Mathis to serve three years in federal pen -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mathis to serve three years in federal pen

September 7, 2005

Albany-- Convicted Commissioner Henry Mathis broke down in tears when he was sentenced to prison, telling Judge Louis Sands that he was only trying to help his constituents.

He said he accepts the judicial system, but maintained his innocence, reiterating four times he didn't extort or threaten anyone.

Convicted in June of three counts of extortion and one count of giving a misleading statement to law enforcement, Mathis faced as much as six years in federal prison.

Friends and family spoke on Mathis's behalf asking the Judge to hand down a more merciful sentence. Albany Tomorrow President Tommy Chatmon said Mathis was a trustworthy man who "Wouldn't intentionally do anything contrary to the law."

Mathis's wife, Carolyn, told the judge she needed her husband, and worried how she would survive with him in prison.

But after hearing the pleas and overruling several objections by the defense, Judge Sands said a jury found Mathis guilty and he must be punished. He said Mathis lied twice to law enforcement about taking money Joe McDonald and used his political office to get money.

He then sentenced Mathis to three years in federal prison and ordered he pay restitution in the amount of $3,350.

A sentence Mathis's attorney Rick Collum says is fair. "He was actually sentenced to about two years less than what the sentencing guideline range had indicated."

But Collum says Mathis's battle isn't over yet and he will appeal. "There are numerous basis of appeal not only on the underlying case, but also on the sentencing. There are different objections we made, but all we're overruled. That means the court found our objections weren't appropriate, but now it's up to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to determine that issue."

That appeal must come within the next ten days, but an appeal won't stop the long time political leader from starting his time in prison.

Mathis did not go immediately into custody. Once the prison system determines which institution he'll go to, Mathis will start his time. It will likely be about 60 days.

There's no parole in federal prison, but inmates can reduce their sentences by 50 days a year for good behavior. Even if that happens, Mathis will still spend about 2.5 years in prison.