An admitted drug dealer who became a major informant for the FBI in a political corruption investigation in Atlantic City was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison on cocaine-trafficking charges.

Terry Jacobs, 42, a contractor from Pleasantville, faced 70 to 87 months in prison under federal sentencing guideline recommendations, but received substantially less time because of his work in the corruption probe.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Eicher, one of the prosecutors in the case, said Jacobs was "the most important cooperator" in an investigation that has already resulted in guilty pleas from three former City Council members in Atlantic City, a former Camden city councilman, and an Atlantic City businessman.

Jacobs and two of those former Atlantic City councilmen were sentenced yesterday in separate hearings before U.S. District Judge Joseph Rodriguez in Camden.

Philadelphia Democratic Party ward leader Carlos Matos, the son-in-law of City Commissioner Margaret Tartaglione, also was scheduled to appear before Rodriguez in connection with the corruption probe in Atlantic City, according to several sources familiar with the case. But that hearing was postponed.

Matos, 57, is serving a 60-day sentence in Bucks County for driving with a suspended license. Authorities declined to comment on the pending case. Matos spent time in Atlantic City doing political work for some individuals who later became government informants in the corruption investigation.

Jacobs began cooperating with the FBI after he was arrested in January 2004 in Gloucester County, where police discovered five kilograms of cocaine in a construction trailer he owned.

For the next two years, he wore a body wire and recorded dozens of conversations for the FBI while paying bribes in exchange for city contracts for his construction company.

Among those recorded by Jacobs, Eicher said yesterday, were Atlantic City Council members Craig Callaway and Ramon Rosario, Camden City Councilman Ali Sloan El, and Atlantic City businessman Edward DiNicolantonio.

Jacobs' cooperation, the prosecutor said, "significantly enhanced the government's investigation of corruption in Atlantic City."

Rodriguez, in meting out the 36-month sentence, said he had to balance Jacobs' cooperation against the seriousness of the drug-dealing charge.

Jacobs' lawyer had asked for a sentence that would not involve prison time, suggesting community service and house arrest. But Eicher said that despite Jacobs' cooperation, the government felt some jail term was warranted.

In a brief statement to the court, Jacobs apologized for his role in the drug deal. He had pleaded guilty to the charge in August.

In separate hearings, Rosario, 48, was sentenced to 10 months, five of which are to be served in prison and five in home confinement, and former Councilman Gibb Jones, 81, was sentenced to five years' probation and six months of home confinement.

Both former councilmen pleaded guilty to accepting bribes, and both cooperated with authorities after being confronted with the evidence against them. Rosario wore a body wire and recorded conversations for the FBI.

Their cooperation led Rodriguez to reduce their potential jail time.

Callaway, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 40 months in prison in March. Sloan El was sentenced to 20 months at a hearing in April.

DiNicolantonio, a local businessman who admitted paying bribes to Jones and Callaway, pleaded guilty on Tuesday and is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

Eicher said after yesterday's hearing that the investigation is "ongoing."

Contact staff writer George Anastasia at 856-779-3846 or ganastasia@phillynews.com.