U.S. Senior Judge Larry McKinney on Thursday sentenced former Indianapolis City-County Councilor Lincoln Plowman to 40 months in federal prison for attempted extortion and bribery.
A jury found Plowman guilty in September of using his official position to collect $6,000 in exchange for his help in getting zoning approval for a proposed strip club.
Plowman, also a former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department major, faced up to 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines resulting from both convictions, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana had recommended a 6 ½ year prison sentence.
But after the court received several letters from friends and family asking for leniency – probation rather than a lengthy prison term – the federal judge imposed a 3.3 year prison sentence in a bench ruling. McKinney also ordered that Plowman serve two years of supervised release following his incarceration. McKinney imposed no fines because of the financial condition of Plowman's family. The convicted official will begin his sentence after Jan.1 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute.
A grand jury indicted Plowman in September 2010. From August to December of 2009, the indictment said, Plowman solicited an undercover FBI agent to pay him $5,000 in cash and make a $1,000 campaign contribution in exchange for help with strip club zoning. Evidence at trial showed Plowman had previously accepted bribes from an existing strip club that was part of a national chain, in exchange for votes to influence legislation to ban smoking at Indianapolis clubs.
Though prosecutors had asked for a longer sentence, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said he was satisfied with the judge’s decision.
“(The) sentencing serves as a warning throughout Indianapolis and across Indiana that our public offices are not for sale,” Hogsett said. “Although this tragedy saddens us all, it would be an even greater tragedy if such violations of the public trust went undiscovered and unpunished.”