he should have gotteen more
i knew russo when i lived there. this didn't surprise me at all.
Russo gets 10 years in Orange Beach corruption case
Posted by Brendan Kirby February 23, 2007 17:36PM
Decrying the corrosive effect up public corruption, a federal judge in Mobile this afternoon sentenced former Orange Beach Mayor Steve Russo to 10 years in prison for a wide-ranging conspiracy to enrich himself in exchange for influencing development projects.U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose gave ex-City Attorney Larry Sutley two years and three months but allowed him to remain free while he appeals the case.
Both sentences were less than the minimum called for under advisory sentencing guidelines and far less than the recommendation from prosecutors, who sought the maximum penalties under those guidelines
Russo, who was up first in the 3½-hour hearing, stared stoically as DuBose announced his sentence. Her words promoted audible crying from Russo's mother. In imposing Russo's punishment, which also included three years of supervised release following his prison term and a $75,000 fine, DuBose rejected the ex-mayor's insistence that the allegations against him do not reflect his true character.
"The conduct for which you've been convicted may not define you. But nevertheless it has been sufficiently proven," she said. "It is part of your history. It is now part of who your are."
- Brendan Kirby, posted at 5:41 p.m.
Victor Calhoun, Chief Photographer
Former Orange Beach Mayor Steve Russo arrives at federal court in Mobile Friday Feb. 23, 2007 for sentencing. His wife Crystal Russo is on his right.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Butler, who served as lead prosecutor, described the stakes of DuBose's decision in sweeping terms. "Can you imagine if every public official in the country did what this defendant did? Our republic would go the way of the Roman Empire," he said. "It would implode in the blink of an eye."
DuBose allowed Russo to remain free until the U.S. Bureau of Prisons determines which facility he will serve his sentence. Butler said generally takes about two or three months. At that point, Russo will have to turn himself in.
The guideline range determined by DuBose started at 12 years and seven months and ended at 15 years and eight months. It was so high, in part, because of her finding that Russo's illegal take from various land deals and kickbacks orchestrated by developer Jim Brown amounted to more than $657,000.
Although less than the guideline minimum, Russo's 10-year sentence is among the longest for a public corruption case in southern Alabama in decades. Several officials in the 1970s and 1980s got longer sentences, but that was before the federal government abolished parole, and those defendants served less time.
Like other federal prisoners, Russo will be eligible for a 15 percent reduction in his sentence for good behavior. Barring a successful appeal, though, he will not be eligible for early release.
Butler said the longer sentence for Russo is due in part to stiffer sentencing guidelines, which have been made more severe even since 2004, when former Mobile County Commissioner Freeman Jockisch was sentenced to two years and nine months for lying on tax returns and ethics forms to hide money he made working on public school buildings for a fire sprinkler company.