HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Former Harrison County supervisor, Kim Savant, was sentenced Thursday to five years in federal prison, and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine after pleading guilty earlier in a bribery case involving the Harrison County utility authority.
Judge Sul Ozerden pointed to the serious nature of the offense, saying this type of public corruption crime, threatens the very fabric of society.
Ozerden noted that the stiff sentence represents not only punishment, but should also serve as a deterrent to others.
Kim Savant had no comment when leaving the courthouse with his attorneys and family.
During the 20 minute sentencing hearing, Judge Ozerden acknowledged the defendant had no previous criminal record and had served his community over the years, but the offense breached the public's trust.
"Quite frankly, I think any time you have a public official and a breach of the public trust, the courts normally look at those, you know, pretty heavy," said attorney, William Kirksey, who represented the defendant.
Among the supporters of Kim Savant, was longtime friend, John Rester.
"I was just here to support Kim," said Rester, "I think he's handled it very well. Obviously a lot of anticipation and you know, it's unfortunate, but he now can go on with the rest of his life."
Given the chance to address the court before he was sentenced, Savant apologized to Harrison County citizens and friends for he decisions.
Jim Walker was more than an interested observer. His family battled the utility authority for years, over a land dispute.
"Only regret I have is my late father couldn't be here today to see this. Savant is now a convicted felon and he's no longer on the Harrison County utility authority. I think the judge sent a strong message today...." said Walker.
The ongoing investigation includes the IRS, which is "following the money", according to its agent.
"This is a straight forward bribery and kickback scheme case where, in fact, someone receives payment, monetary payment, in exchange for favor. In this case, awarding of contracts," said special agent, Jerome McDuffie with the IRS criminal investigation division.
The judge said Kim Savant's crime involved a "pattern of conduct" over two years; the time period the defendant admitted to receiving monthly payments of $1500 from contractor, S.H. Anthony, who did business with the utility authority.