Former Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan police chief Willie Lovett will begin serving more than seven years in federal prison on March 10, pending an appeal of the sentence announced Friday afternoon.
Lovett was convicted in June 2014 on charges including extortion, making false statements to the FBI, and protecting an illegal gambling operation for over a decade.
In addition to serving 90 months, he is required to pay $50,000 in fines, and serve three years of supervised release.
The defense suggested that Lovett serve a lesser sentence on the grounds that there is no possibility for Lovett to commit his crimes again, there is no minimum sentence for this case, and the ringleader of the gambling ring, Randall Wayne “Red” Roach was sentenced to only 15 months.
The prosecution, however, suggested Lovett pay a $500,000 fine to offset his pension plan worth $130,000 per year. Prosecutors also argued for a higher sentence, saying Lovett played a leadership role in the gambling ring, and that without his protection the ring could not have existed for so long.
Lovett, 65, smiled and shook hands as he walked into the courtroom and chose not to make any statements at the time of his sentencing. His wife, Elaine Lovett, stood outside the courtroom and said the couple is relying on their faith to get them through the stresses of the trial. She also said they will appeal the decision and added, “my husband would never do anything to jeopardize his position.”
U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. told Lovett, “I don’t know why you chose to dishonor your badge…but you will pay for that decision.”
The defense has 14 days to appeal.