JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Imprisoned former attorney Paul Minor told a federal judge Wednesday that he is a changed man who wants to devote the rest of his life to assisting the poor, aged and others who have no voice in society.
A federal prosecutor countered that Minor failed to take any blame for a corruption scheme that put him and former Harrison County judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield behind bars.
U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate recessed court until mid-afternoon Wednesday, at which time he said he will re-sentence all three. They must be resentenced because a federal appeals court vacated their bribery convictions in 2009.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld other convictions, including honest services fraud against each of the men and racketeering against Minor. Minor has said the loans to the judges were meant to help friends in times of need and that he expected nothing in return. He was sentenced to 11 years.
Teel was sentenced to nearly six years in the case. Whitfield was sentenced to more than nine years. Teel and Whitfield have asked for new sentences equal to the time they have already served, about 3 ½ years each.
Minor's attorneys said he has served about 4 years and 9 months, including time spent in treatment for alcohol abuse - rehabilitation ordered by Wingate.
Prosecutors said Minor orchestrated a complicated scheme in which he guaranteed loans for the judges, then used cash and third parties to pay off the debts. The judges then ruled in his favor in civil cases.
Minor told Wingate that he "deeply, deeply regretted" having let down his family, including his wife, Sylvia, who died in 2009. Minor said his wife had told him to not get involved in politics but he didn't listen.
"I am not the Paul Minor who was before you four years ago. I am a Paul Minor who is still a work in progress," he said Monday.
Minor said he was a victim of alcoholism and egotism, issues he has had to face during what he called "very, very difficult" years in prison.
Minor said if he is released, he knows he can be a caring man who can "help the poor, the aged ... those who don't have a voice and help those who have helped me."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Fulcher said Monday that Minor's comments fell short of contrition.
He said Minor is "not someone who is expressing remorse ... not taking responsibility for this actions."
Fulcher said the consequences of Minor's actions continue to affect the legal system.
"This defendant put the legal system of justice up for sale," Fulcher said.
Prosecutors have asked Wingate for the maximum sentence allowed by law.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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