Ex-sheriff Billy Long will now spend less time in prison

Former Sheriff Billy Long is led out of the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building after being sentenced to prison.

Billy Long, the former Hamilton County sheriff who extorted small-business owners through an illegal campaign contribution scheme, could be leaving federal prison sooner than expected.

U.S. Judge Harry "Sandy" Mattice on Wednesday reduced Long's sentence from 135 months to 120 months, the lowest punishment under the country's mandatory sentencing minimums, his lawyers said.

"I'm not sure what the end result will be," said his attorney, Jerry Summers, "but we're glad to provide him more relief."

As a result, Long could be transitioned into a halfway house in Chattanooga by the end of summer or early fall, his attorneys said. Before the reduction, his expected release date was Nov. 20, 2017, from a federal facility in Oxford, Wis., records show.

The order, which reduces his sentence to 10 years, should move that release date sooner, co-attorney Marya Schalk said.