HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A coast contractor linked to a kickback scheme involving the Harrison County Utility Authority will not spend any time in prison. Sean Anthony pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud.
Anthony was sentenced in federal court in Gulfport Tuesday morning to three years probation. He must also spend the first six months under house arrest with electronic monitoring. Anthony was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.
He made no comments to the judge before sentencing and had nothing to say to reporters after the 15 minute sentencing hearing.
Federal Judge Keith Starrett from Hattiesburg imposed the sentence. He said he recognized that probation represents a significant variance from the sentencing guidelines, which allowed for a prison sentence of five years. Five years in prison is what former Harrison County supervisor Kim Savant received for his role in this crime involving the utility authority.
Attorney Joe Sam Owen pointed out that his client has been cooperative the past three years with this ongoing investigation. He said there are facts about this case that have not yet been made public and that he cannot discuss.
"Well, it depends on the, when you say lenient sentence, it has a lot to do with certain matters that are not necessarily reflected on the record," said Owen. "Judge Starrett is a very fair judge, but he's a very stern judge. If Judge Starrett thought that probation was fair, then you can measure out what other factors he considered that would influence him to that extent."
While Starrett may have been lenient with Anthony, he had strong words for the type of activity that sparked this case.
"There has been a system of corruption on the coast," said the judge. "It's tragic." He went on to say, "There are a lot of good people who deserve government officials who are not corrupt." He added that public officials wouldn't have the opportunity to be corrupt without citizens to accept bribes and things of that nature.