published Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Federal court says sentence must be changed for convicted sheriff Billy Long

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    Staff File Photo by Dan Henry Former Sheriff Billy Long is led out of the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building and Courthouse after being sentenced to 14 years.

A federal appeals court has ruled that former Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long should receive a new sentence based on an error in his original sentencing.

In May 2008, Long pleaded guilty 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.

Long received 10 years for the drug charge and 14 years for the remaining charges; both to be served together.

The error that may give Long less time is in the drug count. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals released an opinion today which found that U.S. District Judge Harry "Sandy" Mattice should not have allowed a pre-sentencing report attributing more than 26 kilograms of cocaine to Long to be used in calculating his sentence.

The district court now must review and re-sentence Long, and the judge cannot use the large amount of cocaine attributed to Long as part of the sentence.

Long’s attorney, Jerry Summers, filed a notice of appeal two days after his client was sentenced. Mattice sentenced Long on Nov. 24, 2008.

Long has served three years on the sentence. The change in sentencing range will likely reduce his prison time but it is unclear exactly how much.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.

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about Todd South...

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 ...

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