A former Grovetown city councilman convicted of federal bribery charges in April was sentenced Monday morning.
A federal jury convicted Leland J. “Sonny” McDowell of two counts of bribery after a three-day trial in Montgomery, Ala.
Federal Judge Mark E. Fuller sentenced McDowell to 60 months on probation and 500 hours of community service, according to U.S. Attorney Clark Morris, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle Alabama District.
“It’s as good as it could have come out today,” McDowell said after the sentencing in Montgomery. “And it’s over.
“I’m coming home. ... I just get to come home and live my life as normal as I can.”
McDowell was elected to the Grovetown City Council in 2009, but resigned in April after the conviction. Lee Briggs was appointed in August to fill the remainder of McDowell’s term, which expires at the end of the year.
McDowell, who pled not guilty to the charges in June 2012, was accused of offering a kickback to a former Alabama Department of Public Safety employee in 2007.
McDowell and James E. Potts, of Montgomery, Ala., faced a four-count indictment alleging bribery related to a program receiving federal funds.
Potts pled guilty to bribery as part of a negotiated plea agreement and testified against McDowell, Morris said.
Part of Potts’ public safety job in July 2007 was helping the Alabama Department of Human Resources solicit bids for an electronic fingerprint system. At that time, McDowell owned Southern Detention Technologies, which sold fingerprint machines. He is now the owner of Grayco Detention Equipment.
McDowell said he sold the department a machine to be used for fingerprint-based background checks on people who were going to work with children, the elderly and otherwise vulnerable people.
The federal grand jury’s June indictment accused him of offering, and Potts accepting, a $1,700 check and $1 for every fingerprint scan related to the DHR, according to the statement.
McDowell faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge, Morris said.
“It’s a relief,” McDowell said. “At least the wondering what’s going to happen is over.”
McDowell closed his business, Grayco Detention Equipment at the end of May as a result of the charges, but said he’ll be looking to join the workforce again soon.