Thursday, April 26, 2007

Former Regional Director of Florida Prison System Gets 2 Year in Prison

JACKSONVILLE, FL (AP) -- A former regional director of Florida's prison system was sentenced Wednesday to two years and seven months in prison for his role in accepting $130,000 in kickbacks from a contractor.

Allen Clark, 41, could have received 10 years in prison, but prosecutors argued for a lenient sentence.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jim Klindt said Clark worked undercover to help agents build a case against his friend and mentor, former Department of Corrections Secretary James Crosby.

After the hearing, however, Klindt said, "31 months is an appropriate punishment."

Clark and Crosby, 54, pleaded guilty in July to a single charge of accepting kickbacks from American Institutional Services, a company that sold snacks and drinks to prison visitors on weekends.

Crosby was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison after U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington said he bore the most responsibility because he was head of the massive Department of Corrections.

Clark's lawyer, Stephen S. Dobson III of Tallahassee, asked for a sentence of 15 to 20 months.

"The judge considered everything in her sentence," Dobson said after the hearing.

As with Crosby's sentencing Tuesday, the judge remained tough on the public corruption aspect of the case.

"I can't get around the breaking of the public trust," she told Clark, a high-school dropout and former Marine.

Clark spoke briefly, telling the judge, "I am sorry. I could go into it, but that's the bottom line."

Clark's older brother, James Clark of Live Oak, spoke for him, pointing out that Clark has three children and asked the judge to be lenient.

"He told me what he had done and what he was going to do to make it right," James Clark said.

"He was going to do whatever the government asked of him. I am proud of him. He has learned is lesson."

Both Crosby and Clark have each been ordered to pay back $130,000, the total amount received illegally.

Prosecutors said Clark would accept kickbacks and deliver part of those payments to Crosby.

The kickbacks totaled as much as $12,000 a month. Clark made $94,300 a year at his job, and Crosby earned about $124,000.

Klindt told the judge that Clark began cooperating after he and agents confronted him at a meeting in Gainesville in February 2006.

"But for Mr. Clark, we may have not gotten to Mr. Crosby. But for Mr. Crosby, there never would have been this case," the prosecutor said.
Associated Press

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