Mary McCarty leaves Texas prison, enters local halfway houseby George Bennett | March 25th, 2011
The former county commissioner, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to a federal felony count of honest services fraud, left a Texas prison Thursday and checked into a West Palm Beach-area halfway house to serve the remaining six months of her sentence, her husband confirmed Thursday night.
“She looks great and is in terrific spirits,” Kevin McCarty said.
Mary McCarty was the third county commissioner in a period of less than three years to resign, plead guilty to corruption charges and go to prison. Former colleagues Tony Masilotti and Warren Newell have already completed their sentences — and are both seeking to have their honest services fraud convictions thrown out and their forfeited assets returned.
Republican McCarty admitted when she entered her plea in 2009 that she had enriched herself by using her office to boost business for her husband’s bond underwriting firms. She also admitted accepting free or deeply discounted luxury hotel stays from a business that won a county contract to build a convention center hotel in West Palm Beach.
She was sentenced to 3½ years in prison. With time off for good behavior, the federal Bureau of Prisons projects she will complete her sentence in September.
Kevin McCarty said that as his wife, 56, completes her sentence she will live in a halfway house and work in the office of attorney Reeve Bright, a longtime friend of the McCartys.
Kevin McCarty pleaded guilty in 2009 and was sentenced to eight months for “misprision of a felony” for failing to report his wife’s misdeeds.
The McCartys were ordered to forfeit $272,000 in ill-gotten gains and fined $105,000.
After the three commissioners went to prison, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the scope of the honest services fraud law in a 2010 ruling that said there must be evidence of a bribe or kickback for a prosecution to stand.
Masilotti and Newell want their convictions overturned. A federal judge ruled against Masilotti this month, but his attorney has held out the possibility of an appeal. Newell’s appeal is pending.
McCarty, in a January prison interview with The Palm Beach Post , was asked if she plans to appeal her conviction.
“I don’t think so, but I don’t know. I’ve kind of left it alone,” McCarty said at the time. “It’s something I’m not really interested in pursuing…I did what I did. I’m paying the price for it. I’ve chosen to take responsibility and hope that people will forgive me.”