Cherry Hill's former top code inspector, who accepted money to help a Bucks County business executive secure work with the township, was sentenced to 22 months in prison yesterday by a federal judge who cited the need to deter others.

Anthony Saccomanno, 67, appeared in Camden before U.S. District Judge Renee Bumb, who also ordered him to pay a $20,000 fine.

Saccomanno pleaded guilty to mail fraud and theft of services in June. He admitted taking $4,500 over two years to steer contracts to Building Inspection Underwriters Inc., where Russell McLaughlin, of Chalfont, had been president.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Skahill told the judge that Saccomanno had cooperated with the government by wearing a wire for federal investigators who later filed charges against McLaughlin, 56.

Today, Saccomanno's family sat among more than 100 supporters - including Saccomanno's son and two clergy, who each spoke on his behalf. He had been facing 2 1/2 years in prison.

Saccomanno's attorney, Jeffrey Zucker, said he was disappointed that his client, who has serious health problems including lung cancer and diabetes, did not receive probation or house arrest.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Lynch said he thought the sentence was fair. "This is a substantial sentence and we think it sends a message," Lynch said.

Saccomanno, who worked for the township for 31 years, was caught on a federal wiretap in 2007 telling McLaughlin that he had to make a cash payment to ensure the company kept its contract to inspect plumbing, electrical systems, and elevators.

The company had a $240,000 contract in 2008 and performed the work. Despite paying Saccomanno for his influence, the company was not retained in 2009.

McLaughlin pleaded guilty to bribery and is scheduled for sentencing next month.

The township requested Saccomanno pay back two years' salary, which the judge denied. A hearing is scheduled for next month to decide whether Saccomanno will receive his full pension.

Contact staff writer Barbara Boyer at 856-779-3838 or bboyer@phillynews.com.