A federal judge on Thursday afternoon sentenced former Indianapolis City-County Councilor Lincoln Plowman to 40 months in federal prison for attempted extortion and bribery.
A jury found him guilty in September of using his official position to collect $6,000 in exchange for his help in getting zoning approval for a proposed strip club.
Plowman, also a former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department major, faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the attempted extortion conviction and 10 years and a $250,000 fine for the bribery conviction.
He will begin serving the sentence after Jan.1 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute.
U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney imposed no fines because of the financial condition of Plowman's family.
Federal prosecutors had recommended a 6-1/2-year sentence. But friends and family of Plowman earlier in November submitted 56 letters of support to McKinney, pleading for leniency and asking that Plowman receive probation rather than a lengthy jail sentence.
Plowman addressed the court before he received the sentence.
“My actions have caused my family and me a great deal of harm,” Plowman said. “I will never be able to repair the damage I caused. There are no excuses for my arrogance and ignorance. My behavior was inexcusable.”
Plowman pleaded to the judge to consider the impact a prison sentence would have on his wife, who is struggling to save their home from foreclosure, and his two boys. Plowman lost his factory job in Greenwood following his conviction in September.
“While I am concerned about you and your family, I think about the nature and circumstances of the offenses,” McKinney said before sentencing Plowman. “The nature and the circumstances of the events are troublesome for a man of your stature.”
Though prosecutors had asked for a longer sentence, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said he was satisfied with the judge’s decision.
“I think 3-1/2 years in prison is a very powerful message for anyone who holds public office,” he said. “I think the message here today, as sad as it is, would be even sadder if that kind of behavior went undetected and unpunished.”
A grand jury indicted Plowman in September 2010. From August to December of 2009, the indictment said, Plowman solicited an undercover FBI agent to pay him $5,000 in cash and make a $1,000 campaign contribution in exchange for help with strip club zoning.
Plowman declined to comment after the sentencing. His attorneys said they plan to appeal the sentence.
McKinney earlier denied Plowman's request to overturn his convictions.