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Convicted Sheriff Gets Three Years

June 2, 1990

ATLANTA (AP) _ A judge sentenced a county sheriff to three years in prison for extortion and tax evasion.

Richard B. Lankford, who has been suspended as Fulton County’s sheriff, maintained his innocence as U.S. District Judge Richard C. Freeman sentenced him Friday.

Lankford apologized ″for not being better able to prove my innocence.″

Lankford must serve 27 months behind bars. He was fined $6,000. He could have gotten up to 46 years and a $1 million fine.

Lankford, Georgia’s first elected black sheriff, was convicted in March of two counts of extortion and two counts of tax evasion. He was acquitted on one count of attempted extortion and the jury deadlocked on 21 other counts.

Prosecutors said he demanded payoffs from a jail caterer and failing to report the money on his tax returns.

Lankford must surrender to federal authorities July 9 if he isn’t allowed to remain free on bond during appeal.

An acting sheriff was appointed to replace Lankford after his indictment. He lost his $56,000 salary upon conviction, but he retains the title of sheriff until his appeals are exhausted or his term in office ends.