Of the overall crimes, Wilkins said “they go to the heart of our social compact by violating the commitment to honest public service rightly demanded from our elected and appointed officials. ... These are serious crimes by nature and according to the proof in this case.”
Wilkins also said the penalties and fines for bribery and solicitation of bribes increased in 2009, only months before Degnan’s actions in this case. “Where bribery was once a 3-year felony, the Legislature has now authorized a sentence of up to 10 years. Solicitation is now punishable by 5 years, instead of 2 under the old law,” he said.
He added use of a public position with fraudulent intent was not even a crime before 2009.
Before the convictions, Degnan had no prior criminal record, something his defense attorney and Degnan himself stressed to Wilkins. “The biggest thing in my life is my family and my faith. I’m a good person,” Degnan told Wilkins.
Degnan was convicted of soliciting a bribe with corrupt intent, conspiracy, knowing solicitation of a bribe and unlawful use of an official position. He was cleared of the most serious charge, extortion, which carried a possible 15-year state prison sentence.
During the trial, Degnan did not take the stand in his own defense. He served as Lantigua’s chief of staff from January 2010 until May 2011, when he abruptly resigned. Shortly after, he testified before a grand jury investigating Lantigua and allegations of corruption.
Lantigua was defeated in November by Daniel Rivera. Since leaving office, Lantigua has been under investigation for possibly using taxpayer money to pave city streets and bolster his chances of re-election.
During sentencing yesterday, defense attorney Ted Cranney said Degnan had “divorced” and “removed himself” from Lantigua’s corrupt administration. He also said Degnan never benefited personally or financially from the trash truck donation.
“I would suggest justice is not served by incarcerating Mr. Degnan in state prison,” Cranney said.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.