Former state Rep. Sailor sentenced to 5 years in prison

ATLANTA - Disgraced former state Rep. Ron Sailor was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison on charges of money laundering and wire fraud, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Sailor, 33, of Norcross, was sentenced to 5 years, 3 months in federal prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to perform 240 hours of community service and must forfeit all of the property involved and traceable to his crimes, valued to be more than $181,000. Sailor had faced a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,250,000, Justice Department spokesman Patrick Crosby said.

Sailor, who served parts of DeKalb and Rockdale counties in the General Assembly, had pleaded guilty to laundering $375,000 in drug money with an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a drug dealer. But soon after, the government learned Sailor devised a scheme to obtain a $250,000 loan from the church he pastored for his personal use, United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said.

Tuesday's sentencing was "well-deserved," Nahmias said.

"Former State Representative Ron Sailor ends a sordid chapter in the life of someone who appeared to offer much promise for his constituents and his congregation," he said.

On March 18, Sailor entered a guilty plea in federal court to one count of drug money laundering. The plea was the result of a series of meetings between Sailor and an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a drug dealer who was seeking to launder proceeds generated from the sale and distribution of cocaine, Crosby said.

Yet between January and March - while he was cooperating with the government in the money laundering investigation - federal officials said Sailor followed through with the loan scheme that ultimately defrauded his church, officials said.

Sailor offered property owned by the Greater New Light Missionary Baptist Church to Georgia Business Capital Bank as collateral for the loan, but did not have permission from the church. To obtain the money, Sailor changed the church's corporation registration to reflect that he was its chief executive officer, forged the signature of a church officer and created false church bylaws.

Just a week before he pleaded guilty in the corruption probe, Sailor deposited the loan - $217,584.48 after closing costs - into Capitol City Bank & Trust in the church's name and used $141,386.72 to pay personal expenses. He said he had knowingly participated in the illicit acts to get out of debt.

Sailor had been a pastor at Christ the King Baptist Church in Dacula, where he served with his father, Ron Sailor Sr., a once popular television reporter and radio host. The younger Sailor was elected to the state House in 2001, but was mostly a low-profile figure when Republicans took control of the chamber in 2005.

Outside the House chamber, though, Sailor had high-profile money problems.

He was arrested in August 2007 on a felony fraud charge by Gwinnett County authorities, who said he bounced a $1,111 check he wrote to the city of Buford that was supposed to pay utilities on a house there. He was also charged with driving with a suspended license and failure to appear in court.