Fullwood sentenced to time served, 3 years of probation

Former state representative pleaded guilty last year to federal fraud charges

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After an emotional day in federal court, former state Rep. Reggie Fullwood, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges last year, got his wish Tuesday when he was sentenced to time served and probation.

Fullwood, who could technically have faced up to 20 years in prison, was given three years of supervised released and ordered to serve 180 days of home detention. He must also complete 450 hours of community service, pay $100,000 and undergo substance abuse and mental health programs. 

He must complete 150 community service hours a year for three years. Fullwood must also cooperate with the IRS on his outstanding taxes.

Last week, Fullwood's attorney filed a sentencing memorandum, asking for probation. According to the presentencing report, prosecutors wanted 15 to 21 months in prison.

The defense called four character witnesses on Tuesday, including a state senator, a real estate developer, Fullwood's father-in-law and someone Fullwood had mentored.

Fullwood became so emotional before he gave his statement to the court that the judge called a 15-minute recess to allow him to compose himself.

Fullwood was in tears as he stood before the judge to hear his fate. His wife also was overcome with emotion and his sister walked out of the courtroom at one point, when it appeared Fullwood might be sentenced to prison time.

Fullwood agreed last year to the forfeiture of $60,552.80 as part of his plea agreement, which was entered in September. He was sentenced Tuesday to pay another $40,000 in restitution.

The initial forfeiture amount matched the amount transferred from Fullwood's campaign account to the account of Rhino Harbor, LLC -- an account that is only under Fullwood's name.

Fullwood was indicted in April on 14 counts, including wire fraud and tax evasion, mostly related to diverting contributions to his re-election campaign for his own personal use, including purchases of jewelry, alcohol and flowers.

Prosecutors argued Fullwood had violated public trust and needed prison time to send a message. But the judge found Fullwood had violated private trust and suffered a lapse in judgment.

The judge also took into account Fullwood's 20 years in public service and clean criminal history, something Fullwood's sister said was an answered prayer.

"I'm just glad he's going home. He's a remarkable person and a great father, great brother, great friend whose done a lot for the community," Crystal Webb said. "I know how great of a person my brother is. A prison sentence he did not deserve. He's done more than enough for this community and this family that his character should speak for itself. We all make mistakes. No one is perfect."

In the memo requesting probation last week, Fullwood’s attorney acknowledged that Fullwood is going through a divorce, in part because of the fraud case.

He’s living with Webb, and working as an associate editor for the Jacksonville Free Press.

The lawyer also revealed that Fullwood is an alcoholic and has been attending AA meetings since 2014 and getting mental health counseling.

U.S. Attorney Mark Devereaux pushed for leniency, but still wanted 15 months of hard time for Fullwood, but Fullwood's attorney, Bob Willis, said his client lost his job, his marriage and his good name and felt the sentence was fair.

"I'm disturbed that prison was somehow necessary to send some message," Willis said. "Mr. Fullwood's life will never be the same. He's paid a hell of a price."

Fullwood narrowly won a six-way Democratic primary in August for a fourth term representing District 13 and was scheduled to face Republican Mark Griffin in the general election, but he resigned after entering the guilty plea in September.

The conviction likely means Fullwood will never hold public office again.

Prosecutors have two weeks to appeal the sentence.

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