Edwards Is Going To Jail

Former Gov. Edwin Edwards, the political charmer who taunted prosecutors through two dozen investigations, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $250,000 on Monday for extorting payoffs from businessmen applying for riverboat casino licenses.

Edwards, 73, showed little emotion as the decision was read. His daughters and wife sobbed behind him. ``A long sentence is effectively a death sentence,'' said Edwards' lawyer Dan Small, who immediately filed notice of appeal. Edwards, a four-term Democratic governor, was found guilty with his son Stephen and three other men in May.

Edwards was convicted of 17 counts of racketeering, extortion, fraud and conspiracy. Former gubernatorial aide Andrew Martin, cattleman Cecil Brown and Baton Rouge businessman Bobby Johnson also were convicted. The younger Edwards was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $60,000. His lawyer, Jim Cole, said it was a case of guilty by association. ``The jury's verdict is largely a product of Stephen Edwards' last name,'' he said. ``He's swept along by whatever they think of his father.''

U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola did not immediately set an imprisonment date. A separate court battle is expected on whether the four can remain free during appeals.