SAVANNAH, Ga. -- A Savannah attorney on Wednesday was sentenced to nine months in federal prison in a counterfeiting scheme then released on bond, but not before he drew a stern admonition from the judge.
Arthur L. Gibson Jr., 63, of Port Wentworth must also serve a three-year supervised release term after completing his incarceration and perform 40 hours of community service, U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. ordered.
Gibson pleaded guilty April 13 to a charge that he delivered eight purported $100 federal reserve notes to an undercover agent Aug. 30 in what the government charged was a scheme to deal in counterfeit obligations.
Gibson, appearing disheveled as he stood before Moore in a striped Bulloch County jail suit, has remained in custody since his arrest Feb. 29. Moore granted a $10,000 own-recognizance bond to allow Gibson’s release until he reports by June 25 to the federal prison camp designated for his incarceration.
“It appears to me you are more a danger to yourself than you are to anyone else in the community,” Moore told the defendant. “You need to get some self respect starting today, ... and quit looking like an old man.”
Moore told Gibson, in unkept graying hair and beard, to get a haircut and shave and some proper clothes and “quit looking like a person I don’t know what.”
His attorney, Bobby Phillips, urged Moore to sentence the defendant to probation, community service, and possible house arrest, given his age and the likelihood he would not re-offend.
The punishment Gibson has already received — including incarceration and action by the State Bar of Georgia to disbar him — has already taken a toll, he argued.
“He’s done good things long before he got involved in these proceedings,” Phillips told the judge.
Phillips characterized Gibson’s crime as that of “stupidity and greed,” adding, “He’s been devastated by this.”
He told Moore the defendant’s actions probably stemmed from drinking, noting that both Gibson’s grandfather and father had alcohol problems.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Newman argued the proper sentence would be the 14 months in prison recommended in the pre-sentencing guidelines. The report recommended a range of between eight and 14 months.
The defendant began the case by passing counterfeit notes which caused the Secret Service to open the investigation to determine his intent.
That probe uncovered “more horrific crimes,” including discussion of hiring someone to murder Gibson’s ex-wife in Louisiana, as well as trying to acquire more counterfeit money, Newman told the court.