Former Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long is scheduled for a new sentencing hearing in federal court on drug charges that were part of what sent him to prison for 14 years in 2008.
Long won't be in court today; he'll participate through video-conferencing from the Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wis.
But his attorney, Jerry Summers, will argue that Long should receive less time than he received in his original sentence. Summers has argued that, because Long didn't fight the charges and cooperated with investigators early in the process, he should get a further reduction, according to court documents.
Long pleaded guilty in May 2008 to 19 counts of extortion, six counts of money laundering, one count of providing a firearm to a felon and one count of cocaine possession.
He was sentenced to 10 years for the drug charge and 14 years for the remaining charges, both sentences to be served at the same time.
FBI agents started an investigation into Long's activities after learning from local pastor and funeral home owner Eugene Overstreet about his involvement with Long in an illegal campaign contribution scheme.
Summers sought a psychological examination of Overstreet and requested the government to reveal how much money it paid him as an informant. Both requests were denied, and those decisions held with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judges at the appeals court ruled in January that Long should be resentenced on the prison time he received because of drug amounts cited in his court documents.
The appeals court's opinion stated that the pre-sentencing report used to calculate Long's prison time range "erroneously attributed" 26 kilograms of cocaine to the former sheriff. That amount pushed Long's sentence into a higher range.
It's likely that the hearing today could reduce Long's time behind bars, but how much is uncertain. He already has served three years on the 14-year sentence.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...