Former political operative Robert Stears was sentenced to 27 months in prison today for his mail fraud and tax evasion conviction.
In 2006, Stears, a Republican, pleaded guilty to over billing the troubled Burlington County Bridge Commission by as much as $1 million for the work he did as a lobbyist and consultant between 1997 and 2003.
Stears, 53, will apparently have to pay at least some of that money back. A restitution hearing to determine how much is set for May 16th. He will not have to pay a fine, as Judge Jerome B. Simandle ruled that he’ll be unable to pay it given the likely amount of restitution he’ll be forced to hand over.
The sentencing had been postponed several times, presumably because Stears was cooperating with investigators in what the U.S. Attorney’s press release calls an “ongoing investigation.”
Stears will begin serving his sentence on May 23, and will be supervised foro three years after his release.