By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
BIRMINGHAM — The central figure in the Kimberly gambling and public corruption probe has learned his sentence.
Robert Taylor, who reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, was sentenced to six months in prison followed by six months of home confinement, after a long hearing in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. He will also be on probation for two years.
Tracee Plowell, an attorney in the Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section, said that Taylor's hearing — which was "sealed," or closed to the public — lasted nearly the entire day. Five witnesses testified on his behalf, including a pastor, a graduate of a women's shelter and two war veterans, Plowell added.
Taylor's lawyers also presented dozens of letters to support his character, and also brought many supporters to the hearing.
Taylor is one of six defendants in the case, which came about when Craig Harris, who was then mayor of Kimberly, was approached by the group about taking bribes in return for keeping the city's police away from houses where they were operating illegal slot machines. Harris went to police and then to federal authorities, and agreed to wear a "wire," or concealed recording device, to catch the group paying Harris bribe money.
All six defendants have reached plea deals with the government, and Taylor was the fifth to be sentenced. The last, Christopher Adam McGraw, will be sentenced in the next few weeks.