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Ex-JPA official sentenced for corruption

Tony Nelson to spend 40 months in prison on bribery, fraud convictions

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A federal judge sentenced former Jacksonville Port Authority Vice Chairman Tony Nelson to 40 months in prison Friday on his bribery and fraud convictions.

Nelson's lawyer asked the he be allowed to remain free pending appeal of the conviction and requested that if the appeal is denied, he serve his time at the federal prison in Jesup, Ga.

Outside of the federal courtroom, Nelson maintined his innocence.

"I have done absolutely nothing illegal, and certainly, if I have done something wrong, I have not done something wrong intentionally," Nelson said.

Nelson, 56, was found guilty last May of accepting bribes from contractors doing business with the port. He was convicted of 36 corruption-related charges after a jury was shown evidence that he failed to disclose nearly $150,000 he received from Subaqueous Services (SSI), an Orlando-based dredging company that did work at the Dames Point container terminal.

Nelson's attorney said that as a matter of law, Nelson didn't have to disclose the payment he received, but the jury sided with prosecutors. Motions to throw out the verdict and seeking a new trial were denied.

Nelson was facing up to 12 years in prison and fines of more than $125,000.
His sentencing hearing lasted three days.

He plans to appeal the judge's ruling.

"I will tell you that I am innocent and I have great legal counsel," Nelson said. "I'm just going to continue walking, believing that the truth will always set you free, and I'm hopeful that in that process, my truth will set me free."