BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - No prison time for a former Jefferson County Commissioner who admitted to lying to a federal grand jury.
Mary Buckelew hugged friends outside of the courtroom with tears in her eyes Thursday before the sentencing hearing. Buckelew plead guilty to not telling a federal grand jury that Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount bought her expensive gifts such as shoes, a purse, and a spa treatment, on bond trips to New York.
Thursday, Judge Inge Johnson told Buckelew she was not bothered by the gifts as much as the lies. Still, the judge sentenced the former county commissioner to three years probation, a $20,000 fine, and 200 hours of community service.
"My only comment is justice was served today and I feel blessed," said Buckelew. "Thank you."
Buckelew cooperated with federal investigators in their probe of corruption charges against former county commissioner Larry Langford, Blount, and lobbyist Al LaPierre. After Thursday's sentencing, prosecutors had little to say.
"I just think officials should follow the law like everyone else and they should be punished when they do something wrong," said George Martin, assistant U.S. Attorney.
A dozen or so of Buckelew's friends spoke on her behalf Thursday, asking Judge Johnson not to send her to prison. Many said Buckelew's acceptance of the gifts "a mistake," but they all pointed to Buckelew's years of service on the county school board and county commission as a reason to lesson the penalties.
"She has done so much for children in Jefferson County," said Vi Parramore. "I think that weighed on the heart of the judge."