Last year, Buckelew pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and admitted that she lied to a grand jury about receiving gifts from Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount while she was a county commissioner.
More than 20 supporters joined Buckelew at the federal courthouse in Birmingham, along with a number of character witnesses including Elwood "Woody" Odom, a former Jefferson County EMA manager, and David Wilkerson, the former director of technical education for the Jefferson County school system. Judge Inge Johnson seemed responsive as Odom, Wilkerson and others told how Buckelew had helped their programs.
Buckelew also addressed the court, and expressed remorse for her crime. "I will have to carry the burden of that," Buckalew said. "I made a huge mistake."
Buckelew said she hoped that God and her constituents could forgive her.
After Buckelew and her character witnesses spoke, Buckelew's attorney requested a downward departure from the six-month sentence the prosecution recommended as part of her plea deal. Buckelew faced up to 20 months in prison for the obstruction charge. Prosecutors then told Judge Johnson that Buckelew made a conscious decision to do wrong, and said that politicians need to fear the consequences of lying under oath.
In her remarks to Buckelew, Judge Johnson stressed the importance of honesty under oath, saying that lying to the grand jury was a worse crime than taking $4,000 in Ferragamo shoes, a handbag and a day at a New York spa from Blount. "You lied," Johnson said. "That's the only way to put it in a judicial proceeding."
Johnson said that Buckelew's character witnesses had made an impression on her and agreed to Buckelew's request for a downward departure.
Buckelew's supporters applauded after the sentencing, while a few family members cried.
Prosecutors declined to comment after the sentencing.