July 11, 2014 10:34:53 AM
HERNANDO -- Former Southaven Mayor Greg Davis was sentenced Thursday to 2 ½ years in state prison for felony convictions of embezzlement and fraud.
DeSoto County Circuit Judge Robert Chamberlin gave Davis a 10-year sentence but suspended 7 ½ years, meaning the maximum prison time would be 2 ½ years, The Commercial Appeal reported. The top sentence would have been 20 years for embezzlement and five years for fraud.
Chamberlin ruled later Thursday that Davis, 48, could be released on $25,000 bond until his appeal is heard. District Attorney John Champion estimated that could take up to two years.
"I still honestly believe that I did not do anything intentionally wrong," Davis said in court Thursday. "I do understand that the jury has found me guilty. Maybe if I could get a chance to go back, I'd do things differently. I am not afraid to accept the responsibility of what I have done. I just hope the court will consider all the circumstances."
Davis' attorney Steve Farese argued that his client did not get a fair trial because of extensive coverage and that the jury pool was tainted. Farese also argued that DeSoto County was so conservative that jurors could not be fair because of the mayor's sexual orientation.
"When we didn't get that change of venue there was no way we could win," Farese told WHBQ-TV. "Absolutely no way we could win. We were already in the coffin when we came to trial. It wouldn't have mattered if we had the Mormon Tabernacle Choir testifying for us."
The embezzlement charge stemmed from prosecutors saying Davis used city gas pumps to fill his personal vehicle while receiving a monthly mileage check from the city.
The fraud charge stemmed from his purchase of a city-leased vehicle without permission. Davis was convicted of falsely claiming he had authority, as a government official, to buy the 2007 Ford Expedition. The vehicle was valued at $46,000, and prosecutors said Davis bought it for $11,000.
Davis served nearly six years in the state House of Representatives before he was elected mayor in 1997.
He was the 2010 Republican nominee for Congress in north Mississippi's 1st District, losing to Democrat Travis Childers. Davis lost a bid for re-election as mayor 2013.
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