A former talk show host was sentenced Friday to four years in prison on a drug money laundering charge by a federal judge who chose not to impose the maximum 20-year term after receiving a "remarkable" number of letters of support from the community.
Walter "Eddie" Floyd, 59, had faced a $500,000 fine in addition to prison after pleading guilty to laundering $175,000 in illegal proceeds from a California marijuana farm with a fictional lease in the name of "Earnest Green."
Floyd also had been indicted in February 2006 on charges of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute the drugs with his son,
Josh, and his son's friend, Daren Mabunda.
As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Hunt granted Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Rachow's request to drop those charges.
Floyd is the former owner of U.S. Realty Co. and hosted a public affairs program, "Nevada Matters," at the Reno radio station he owned until his arrest last February. The Federal Communications Commission subsequently withdrew his license for KDBD, 1400-AM.
The indictment said the Floyds arranged for rental cars and drivers - and later purchased a van with U.S. Realty money - to transport hundreds of pounds of pot at a time in numerous trips to Kentucky, where it was sold.
"I am very remorseful," Floyd told the judge during the 25-minute hearing in federal court in Reno. He said he'd let down a number of investors in a number of successful business ventures as a result of his arrest.
"My whole goal has nothing to do with me personally. It is to pay back the people that were involved in the companies when we were - if you will - riding the big wave," he said. "I'd like to make it right, not just for me but for all those people involved."
In imposing a more lenient sentence, Hunt noted the "remarkable number of letters on your behalf" written by dozens of friends, family members, business associates and other community leaders.
"These are people who have a great love, fondness and appreciation for you. It is difficult for the court to make decisions on these sorts of things," the judge said.
"From what I've read about you, the court is not overly concerned about you being involved in further crimes," he said.
Hunt ordered three years probation upon Floyd's release from prison. He agreed to allow him to surrender June 1, and agreed to recommend he be incarcerated at a federal prison in Herlong, Calif.
"It's just punishment," said Scott Edwards, Floyd's lawyer. "It reflects the seriousness of the crime and allows for Mr. Floyd's rehabilitation."
In his plea agreement, Floyd admitted assisting his son and Mabunda in drug trafficking at the property he owned in Doyle, Calif., about 20 miles north of Reno. The indictment said the three disguised the 260 acres known as the "Doyle ski lodge" by creating a lease agreement with the fictional "Earnest Green."
Prosecutors said Eddie Floyd received 11 monthly lease payments
from Mabunda totaling $37,500. They said he gave Mabunda 500,000
shares of "Nevada Matters" stock in exchange for $137,500 in drug
proceeds from December 2003 to February 2004.
Josh Floyd and Mabunda were convicted in Kentucky of conspiracy
to distribute marijuana and sentenced in October 2005 to three months and 10 years in prison, respectively.
"By entering his plea," Edwards said, "we avoided a painful scenario whereby the government would have compelled testimony from his own family, from co-workers and other people in the community."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)