MAYS LANDING, N.J. - Calling their crimes "despicable and sleazy," a Superior Court judge yesterday sentenced two political operatives in Atlantic City's "sex tape" case to lengthy state prison terms.
Judge Albert Garofolo capped a two-hour sentencing hearing by lambasting Floyd Tally and Ronald Callaway for their roles in an attempt to force Atlantic City Councilman Eugene Robinson to resign by secretly videotaping him having sex with a prostitute in a seedy motel.
Tally, 39, was sentenced to 12 years with no parole eligibility for six years. Callaway, 53, was sentenced to nine years with no parole for four.
Garofolo pointed to the criminal histories of both defendants - Tally had 23 prior arrests, Callaway 13 - and the fact that both had opted, on the eve of trial, not to pursue plea deals that could have brought about three years in prison.
"That's why a trial is sometimes called rolling the dice," the judge said in response to defense arguments that another defendant who pleaded out had gotten a lesser sentence.
Garofolo said both defendants had "left the streets to go into politics, but they brought the streets with them."
He said calling the sex taping a "political trick" diminished the seriousness of the crime.
"This was a despicable, sleazy, dirty act. . . . This was a street crime," the judge said.
The defendants showed little emotion as the sentences were imposed. Both appeared in court in orange prison jumpsuits and handcuffs. They have been jailed since their convictions in October.
Garofolo said the sex-tape case further damaged the shaky image of Atlantic City.
In his opening statement to the jury, Chief Assistant Atlantic County Prosecutor James McClain had said the plot epitomized "how low-down and dirty" politics in Atlantic City could be.
Prosecutors said the plan had been set in motion after Robinson had a political falling out with then-Council President Craig Callaway, Ronald Callaway's brother.
McClain described the scheme to embarrass Robinson and force him to resign as "payback" for his perceived political disloyalty.
The taping occurred Nov. 13, 2006. A few days later Robinson was shown the tape and told that it would be made public if he did not resign.
Instead of resigning, Robinson went to authorities.
In a videotaped victim-impact statement played during yesterday's hearing, Robinson, 67 and now living in a nursing home in poor health, said the scandal had damaged his reputation and caused him physical and emotional problems.
Robinson, a divorced part-time minister, and the prostitute, Kristyn Haino, 27, testified for the government during the trial.
Months before the trial, Craig Callaway pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, admitting he masterminded the scheme. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
That sentence began running concurrently with a 40-month sentence he was serving for his conviction in an unrelated federal political bribery and extortion case.
Tally, Ronald Callaway, and a third Callaway brother, David, 46, were convicted Oct. 21 of conspiracy, criminal coercion, and invasion of privacy. David Callaway is scheduled to be sentenced next month.
Haino testified that she had been paid about $300 to have sex with Robinson. She said Tally and Ronald Callaway had pointed Robinson out to her one night in Atlantic City.
She said she had approached him in front of a convenience store and asked for a ride to the Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa on the other side of town. Once in his car, she said, she got Robinson to drive her to the Bayview Motel, where Tally and Callaway had gotten her a room.
The two men and three others were in the next room videotaping the encounter, she said.
Haino was unaware Robinson was a councilman, she said, until he gave her his business card as he left the motel room and asked to see her again.
Robinson, who said he had not known Haino was a prostitute, testified that a few days after the encounter, a man he did not know approached him and showed him a video on a laptop commuter.
The video showed Robinson receiving oral sex from Haino, whose face had been digitally blurred.
When Robinson did not resign, the video was given to a local reporter.
Robinson testified that he had not had sex for 17 years and was "excited" that a young woman was interested in him.
Robinson, whose term expires at the end of the year, did not seek reelection.