Admitted "bag man" Charles Love, who became a key cooperating witness in the Tennessee Waltz investigation, was sentenced to one year and a day in prison Thursday.
Love, a member of the Hamilton County (Chattanooga) Board of Education for nine years, began cooperating with the government before the investigation became public in 2005 after he was confronted with taking $28,000, some of which he kept and some of which he gave to elected officials.
The sentence handed down by U.S. district judge Daniel Breen is well below the sentencing guidelines of 30-37 months for the offenses of extortion and theft of government funds with which Love was charged.
Love told Breen he regretted his actions.
"I want to state my remorse," he said. "I want to apologize to the people of Hamilton County and the state of Tennessee."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza told Breen that Love's cooperation was helpful to the government and began within two days of his being told he was a target in the Tennessee Waltz investigation. He recommended that Love get a reduction from the sentencing guidelines of 50 percent.
Attorney Bryan Hoss, who represented Love, said that Love has received anonymous death threats for his cooperation with the government. He told Breen that Love wore a wire 20-25 times during the course of the investigation at great personal cost. He was prepared to testify against powerful senator Ward Crutchfield until Crutchfield pleaded guilty in July.
"He (Love) has effectively been run out of the state," said Hoss.
Love was caught on tape in secret conversations with FBI agents posing as E-Cycle executives. On one tape, he said, "Everyone has their deal." But Hoss said Love had not taken money illegally prior to Tennessee Waltz/
"He embellished when he first met with E-Cycle about doing this before," Hoss said.
Love will remain free on bond. The prison where he will serve his time has not been decided, but Breen will recommend a site close to Chattanooga.