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Disgraced Ill. ex-sheriff given life term

Associated Press / January 20, 2011

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BENTON, Ill. — A federal judge called a disgraced Illinois sheriff “the worst of humanity’’ yesterday and sentenced him to life in prison for trafficking marijuana on the job and a foiled plot to have potential witnesses killed.

US District Judge J. Phil Gilbert sided with prosecutors in deciding that Raymond Martin should be harshly punished, admonishing the longtime southern Illinois sheriff as “nothing but a common thief and thug who disregarded the very laws that you swore to uphold, defend, protect, and honor.’’

“You could have likely been sheriff until you decided to retire. But, no, you couldn’t stand prosperity, and your arrogance, greed, and power got the best of you,’’ Gilbert scolded Martin, who was fired within days of his conviction last September of all 15 felony counts. “I believe in your mind your only regret is that you got caught.

Gilbert appeared irked by the lack of visible contrition by Martin, who moments before being handed two life terms on weapons charges — and numerous 10- and five-year terms on the other counts — pledged to appeal, claiming more documents and witnesses presented on his behalf at trial could have acquitted him.

“Your Honor, I come before you today not claiming to be no angel but can assure you I’m not the man prosecutors are trying to portray me as,’’ Martin, 48, told Gilbert, denying he ever schemed to have anyone killed.

Martin, a Democrat who had been reelected four times, has been jailed since May 2009, when federal agents hauled him off from his office in Shawneetown on marijuana-dealing charges. Despite that and his subsequent behind-bars plotting to kill witnesses, Martin clung to his job and still got his $40,000-a-year salary until the county fired him after his conviction, ending his nearly 20-year run as sheriff.

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