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Some Members Of Meg Scott Phipps' Staff May Face Reduced Sentences

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Last November, former state Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps pleaded guilty to her role in a campaign finance scandal, which included accepting cash illegally and submitting false campaign finance reports.

In motions filed Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office, prosecutors will recommend a judge sentence Phipps to five years of active prison time. Her proposed sentence could be more prison time than the three aides who testified against Phipps could get.

The government said the testimony of Linda Saunders, who was Phipps' campaign treasurer, was "critical" in solving the high level of corruption. Prosecutors suggest a sentence of 15 months -- half in prison and half under house arrest -- for Saunders.

Prosecutors said Bobby McLamb, who the government calls a key participant in the fraud and extortion committed by the Phipps camp, was not "completely truthful" and should only have his sentence reduced by 25 percent. The government's recommendation for his sentence is 18 months in prison.

Mike Blanton, who was second-in-command at the Ag Department, had said he was not involved in the corruption, but he was implicated in the cover-up, including lying to a grand jury. The government wants to reduce his sentence by 40 percent to 13 months -- half in prison and half under house arrest.

The judge in these cases can go along with the prosecution's request or come up with his own sentence. Phipps and her three aides will learn their sentences in March.

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