David Fry was sentenced to five years’ probation Thursday on allegations that he tried to bribe two Augusta Commission members in 2009.
The Augusta lawyer must also write letters of apology to the commissioners and the mayor and perform 250 hours of community service.
An indictment charges Fry, 59, with two counts of bribery after he offered Alvin Mason and Corey Johnson a 3 percent cut of profits from a management company. The profits were to be in exchange for the commissioners voting in favor of the downtown parking deck for the Trade, Exhibit and Event Center on Reynolds Street.
The district attorney’s office has said from the outset that there were evidentiary issues with the case because Fry had no contract to offer. Still, it maintained that in the strictest sense of the law, Fry was trying to influence a vote.
On Thursday, defense attorney Pete Theodocion called it an “indecent proposal” that “certainly crossed the line,” but he maintained no bribe was ever offered.
The dispute over the definition of bribery prompted Superior Court Judge Carl Brown to refuse Fry’s plea in November and order it go to trial. Brown later recused himself when his daughter, Dacara Brown, became Fry’s attorney, but it was Theodocion who represented him Thursday.
Fry entered an Alford plea Thursday, which acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict and is treated as guilty plea for sentencing purposes. Assistant District Attorney Adam King made no recommendation for a sentence Thursday, but agreed to let Fry be sentenced as a first offender.
Blanchard accepted the request, which essentially wipes away a conviction upon successfully completing a sentence, but said the State Bar of Georgia would be notified of the sentence.
Blanchard said the “serious” charges faced by Fry merited prison time, but he chose probation instead after Fry said in court he was taking medication for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. As judge over mental health court, Blanchard said he knew that those mental illnesses can cause strange behavior when someone doesn’t take his medication.