(Watchdog.org) Omaha, NE – Former Nebraska State Sen. Brenda Council was sentenced in federal court Thursday to three years probation and fined $500.
Council, a lawyer, pleaded guilty in September to one count of wire fraud in connection with misusing— gambling— $63,000 in campaign funds.
During sentencing Council told the judge she has accepted full responsibility for her actions.
“What I did is not who I am,” she said.
Council’s plea agreement with federal prosecutors—which called for probation— states that each and every month from March, 2010 through January, 2012 (except November, 2010) she gambled at casinos in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma—the wire fraud charge stemmed from her use of a debit card to access the cash.
Last year, Council pleaded guilty in Lancaster County Court to two misdemeanors and was fined $500 for failing to report to the state just how she spent her campaign cash.
At that time she also agreed to repay any missing money. Council’s attorney, Vince Powers, says all the money has been repaid.
Nebraska Watchdog has examined statistics from the U.S. Sentencing Commission which reveal that between 2008 and 2012 probation in fraud cases was the exception not the rule.
Nationally out of 39,952 individuals convicted of fraud 76 percent (30,624) did prison time, 8 percent (3,355) received probation and some community or home confinement, while 15 percent (5,973) received probation only.
Those sentenced to prison served an average of 30 months.
Nebraska’s six federal judges handled 246 fraud cases: 81 percent (200) were imprisoned, 9 percent (21) received probation and some confinement, while 10 percent (25) received probation only.
On average they served 16 months in prison.
Council is also a former president of the Omaha School Board and former member of the Omaha City Council.
In 1994 and 1997 she ran for mayor of Omaha, losing both times.