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Ex-Gadsden councilmen, 2 others sentenced to prison for corruption

GADSDEN (AP) — Four people, including two former city council members, were sentenced Thursday afternoon for their roles in a public corruption case in Gadsden.

U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler sentenced former Councilman Fred Huff to 30 months in prison and former Councilman Jim Armstrong to 18 months in prison for accepting bribes and wire fraud, The Gadsden Times reported Thursday evening on its Web site.

Consultant Larry Thompson was sentenced to 50 months in prison for bribing the officials and wire fraud. Former Gadsden Commercial Development Director Cathy Back got 22 months in prison. Back had also pleaded guilty to bribery and wire fraud.

The four will be placed on two years of supervised release once they finish their prison terms.

They were each ordered to pay $100 in special court costs.

Huff also has to pay a $6,000 fine. Coogler cited the fact that Huff took five bribes and two times as much money as Armstrong.

They are to report to prison by Sept. 13 if space is free.

Coogler said the two council members violated public trust, the Times reported. He said it was "obvious" that Thompson had intended to bribe them in connection with the development of Lafferty's Landing on Rainbow Drive.

Coogler said Back's part in the conspiracy was small but "not what I would call minimal."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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