COVINGTON, Ky. – A judge sent the wrong message when he cut five years off Robert Due's sentence for embezzling nearly $800,000 from the city of Covington, the prosecutor said Thursday.
The message: Public officials get off easy.
The former finance director got a 10-year prison sentence from Judge Gregory M. Bartlett. The prosecutor, Rob Sanders, wanted him to get 15 years.
Attorney Tim Schneider said Due used the money he stole to send his five children to private school and to pay medical bills and nursing home bills for relatives.
"Obviously it's not any excuse, but it's certainly different than 'I stole a lot of money from the city to go on extravagant vacations, or to go to casinos and so forth,' " the judge said.
Due's attorney praised the judge's decision.
"I think in balancing type of person Bob Due is with the crime I think it was absolutely the right sentence and I'm thrilled he made that decision," Schneider said.
Due had nothing on his record but a speeding ticket.
But Sanders disagreed.
"It's problematic, I think, because I think there is a stereotype, for lack of a better term, that public officials aren't held to the same standard as the average person when it comes to the punishment they receive if they commit a crime," Sanders said.
"This sentence isn't certainly going to do anything to change that stereotype."
Due, who served as finance director from 1999 until his indictment last year, apologized for his crimes.
"The fact that I breached the trust that was placed in me is something I can't apologize enough for," he said.
Due agreed to restitution in the plea agreement. With his pension, bond and insurance plans, he will eventually repay close to $300.000.
Due is eligible for parole in about a year since he has already spent about a year behind bars.
Prosecutors say he attempted suicide twice during that time.
Even if Due is released, he will still be on parole until he pays the money back.