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By BILL POOVEY
Associated Press Writer

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --

A federal judge sentenced a former sheriff in Tennessee to 14 years in prison on Wednesday for convictions that included shaking down convenience store clerks for protection money and transporting cocaine by the pound.
U.S. District Judge Harry S. Mattice Jr. told former Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long he deserved no special treatment. There is "just a lot of anger, a sense of betrayal in the community," the judge said. "I'm not sure I've seen anything as egregiously venal."
Long asked the court for mercy, saying he takes full responsibility for what he did and asks "God's forgiveness."
The 55-year-old was arrested Feb. 2 on extortion, money laundering and drug charges and later resigned. He pleaded guilty in May.
Court records show the FBI began investigating Long using the Rev. Eugene Overstreet, a Chattanooga mortuary owner who is a convicted felon, as an undercover informant.
Before the sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Humble reminded the judge that Long gave a gun to Overstreet, knowing he was a convicted felon, and told him to throw it away if he used it.
An FBI agent's affidavit says Long told agents he was involved in drug trafficking, and that hours before his arrest he had loaded 10 kilograms - or 22 pounds - of cocaine into the trunk of a car.
Court records said Long also accepted $17,400 from Eastern Indian convenience store owners "to protect their video poker business and other illegal activity" such as products used to make methamphetamine, and threatened at least one for failing to "fulfill his campaign donation promise" to Long.
Another record said Long, who is white, said that during his campaign for sheriff he was introduced to Overstreet, who is black, as a man who could "help him with the African American vote." It says Overstreet also said he could help with the votes of "entrepreneurs from India."

Wire Service
 
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