Mellow Sentenced

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UPATE: Bob Mellow Sentenced to sixteen months in prison.

SCRANTON -- Former state senator Bob Mellow was in court Friday facing the possibility of prison time for corruption.

Mellow pleaded guilty in May to federal corruption charges as part of a plea agreement.

At Friday's hearing, Judge Joel Slomsky said he read more than 200 character witness letters from people supporting Mellow, including laborers, constituents, even a former governor and former attorney general.

The judge said sentencing guidelines indicate a sentence of 18 to 24 months.

Mellow's lawyers asked the judge to depart from sentencing guidelines, citing his "extensive civic and charitable work." They also said he suffers from health problems that would be aggravated by a long jail sentence.

His attorneys also said that a prison sentence would have dire consequences for his daughter's health. The judge said that the effect on his daughter should be considered and that it meets the legal standard of "extraordinary."

The judge eventually denied motions for lesser sentences, keeping the 18 to 24 months guidelines in place, but those guidelines are not mandatory.

Attorney Sal Cognetti said the charges against Mellow are not corruption because they do not involve bribery or kickbacks. Cognetti also cited character witnesses, including former Governor Ed Rendell and noted that Mellow is responsible for $2.4 billion brought to northeastern Pennsylvania.

Cognetti, citing the movie "Lincoln," said that the president also violated political rules but "society moved on."

Mellow was accused of using state facilities and staffers to work on his reelection campaigns, a violation of federal election laws. Prosecutors believe that cost taxpayers about $100,000.

Mellow, from Peckville, served four decades in Harrisburg and had a huge influence in Lackawanna County and in Harrisburg. He was once one of the most powerful politicians in Pennsylvania.