Will former Metro Chief Willie Lovett do prison time?

Published: Feb. 5, 2015 at 10:56 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2015 at 10:56 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Former Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Willie Lovett will be sentenced in federal court on extortion and gambling charges on Friday.

But will he serve prison time?

WTOC took the question to Savannah Attorney Tom Withers, a former prosecutor who oversaw the prosecution of another high profile police corruption case, "the Savannah 11," a case against 11 corrupt officers in the 1990's that ended with the officers behind bars.

"I think that given what I would think is a fairly serious abuse of his position, and that some of this conduct occurred while he was police chief, that he's going to be looking at a prison sentence," Withers said.

A sentencing memo Lovett's attorneys filed in federal court Wednesday hints at the results of a pre-sentencing investigation in Lovett's case.

The results of that investigation appear to be a recommended sentence of 10 to 12 years. The former chief would get extra time for taking the stand in his own defense, which is seen as lying now that he's been convicted. He'd get more time for serving as a ringleader of the crime and a longer sentence for making more than $5,000 in bribes.

"Mr. Lovett is the former police chief," Withers said. "There is a serious abuse of his position of trust."

Lovett is 65 years old. His attorneys are asking the judge to sentence him to 33 to 41 months, writing in the pre-sentencing memo that there is no proof Lovett received more than $5,000.

A shorter sentence could put Lovett in a lower-security dormitory-style prison camp, like the one in Estill, SC. A longer sentence could land him in a high-security cell, like the federal prison in Atlanta.

Lovett is not likely to go to prison immediately after sentencing, since judges typically let defendants report to prison, about a month after they are sentenced, in non-violent crimes.

WTOC will be at the federal courthouse Friday to bring you the Lovett sentence as soon as it is announced. Depend on us for complete coverage of the sentencing hearing.

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