Former state Sen. Tommy Robertson was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison, with two years to serve, for embezzling $379,594 of a $484,000 construction loan that he was handling for a couple through Singing River Federal Credit Union.
Special Judge Richard McKenzie also ordered Robertson to serve eight years under post-release supervision, fined him $1,000 and ordered him to pay $60,000 in restitution.
District Attorney Tony Lawrence pointed out the restitution was less than expected because the bank received insurance money to cover a portion of the loss. In addition, he said, Robertson had also already paid about $16,000 of what was owed.
As an attorney who respected Robertson's legal career and later his public service, Lawrence said it was a difficult case to prosecute.
Robertson's relatives attended the sentencing hearing Monday to show their support. His daughters wept for their father, who served in the state Senate from 1992 to 2008.
Though Robertson pleaded guilty to one count, Lawrence said he had access to the entire $484,000 involved.
“All I can tell you is my client and friend is just about as much of a broken man as you can have,” Robertson's attorney, James Heidelberg, said prior to sentencing. “He has filed bankruptcy. He's lost his house. He's lost his assets. He's lost friends and his reputation.”
The judge said he had received more letters of support for Robertson than any other case he’s had handled in 36 years. The letters, he said, came from public officials, friends and family.
A Jackson County grand jury indicted Robertson on five counts of embezzlement, but the state dismissed four of the charges in a plea deal with the former senator. He pleaded guilty to the embezzlement charge in December.
The crime occurred between April 12-18, 2013, according to Lawrence. As an agent of the credit union, Robertson secured the construction loan for a couple who was building a home.
Robertson no longer has a license to practice law.
When he entered his plea, Heidelberg said Robertson was working in Texas for an industrial contracting company, P.G. Floore. The company has offices in Pascagoula and Texas.
Heidelberg said Robertson’s wages have been garnished to pay back the money the embezzled.
Robertson faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Department, the Jackson County District Attorney's Office and the State Auditor's Office investigated the case.