Phipps, the former state Ag Commissioner, admits she accepted thousands of dollars in illegal cash payments, doctored campaign finance reports to cover it up and extorted money from carnival operators with the promise of state fair contracts.
After her trial on state charges in November, Phipps offered her first public apology.
"I just want to say that I'm truly sorry that I have brought this sadness and this grief to my family, but also the people of North Carolina, which I consider my family," Phipps said.
The 57-month sentence is just a recommendation by prosecutors. The judge in the case has the final word. Phipps' sentencing is scheduled for next week.