The lawyer who hopes to be Broward County's next top prosecutor is trying to get former County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion released from federal prison as soon as possible.
Chris Mancini, a former federal prosecutor turned defense attorney, is challenging longtime incumbent and fellow Democrat, State Attorney Mike Satz, in November's general election.
Mancini filed court documents Tuesday seeking to enforce what he says were the original terms of Eggelletion's prison sentences and free him from federal prison before July 18 -- the date the U.S. Bureau of Prisons says the former commissioner is eligible for release.
While most candidates seeking election to law enforcement positions tend to emphasize their "tough-on-crime" credentials, Mancini said he's not worried about public perception.
"Well, in Joe's case, it's just enforcing the plea bargain that was originally made. …There's no one being tough on crime or being soft on crime, it's just like thousands of other cases where agreements are made," Mancini said.
Eggelletion, 62, had hoped to be set free on Feb. 27 but was disappointed when prison officials re-calculated his release date. He reported to prison in Jesup, Ga., in May 2010.
The former politician was sentenced to 2 1/2 years on federal convictions for money-laundering conspiracy and filing a false tax return, and 2 1/2 years on a state conviction for taking a $3,200 golf club membership and $25,000 in bribes from developers Bruce and Shawn Chait.
Under his plea agreement with state prosecutors, Eggelletion is serving both prison terms at the same time in the federal system and both sentences were to end at the same time.
Mancini wrote that he believes Eggelletion has been eligible for release to a halfway house since Jan. 18 under federal guidelines but is being kept in prison because federal officials are "misinterpreting" the terms of his state punishment.
Eggelletion has completed a residential drug and alcohol abuse treatment program in prison that could shave as much as nine months off his punishment, according to Mancini. The former commissioner first announced he had an alcohol abuse problem when he pleaded guilty to the federal charges.
On top of that, inmates in both the federal and state prison systems generally serve about 85 percent of their sentences, with standard time off for good behavior. Eggelletion has also qualified for that full benefit, according to prison records.
Eggelletion's trial attorney, Johnny McCray, said last month that he planned to file the court documents seeking clarification of the sentence. McCray could not be reached for comment but Mancini said he joined the legal team at the request of Eggelletion's wife and because of his prior work as an assistant U.S. attorney and his familiarity with federal prison sentencing rules.
Mancini has been attending political events in recent weeks, accompanied by Judy Stern, the prominent lobbyist and political consultant who was also a close supporter of Eggelletion.
Federal prison officials don't comment on individual inmates but said that a state sentence should not affect a federal inmate's release date.
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