A judge ordered no prison time Monday for the final defendant in a bribery scheme that allowed "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis to dine on sushi and watch "The Office" and "Family Guy" DVDs while jailed in Nevada on tax charges.
U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks sentenced ex-law officer Mary Boxx to 100 hours community service, three years probation and a $1,680 fine after she pleaded guilty to accepting a gratuity as a public official.
The maximum possible penalty for the crime was two years in prison. Corrections officials had recommended Boxx serve at least four months house arrest.
Boxx tearfully apologized to the judge for the "nightmare" she had put her family through during the past two years.
He agreed to let her move to New York so she can help care for her five grandchildren, including one with autism, because her daughter's husband is about to be deployed to Afghanistan.
Hicks refused a request to waive the fine, saying Boxx was part of a team that embarrassed the jail and "created a black eye on law enforcement."
‘No idea’ why she was being paid
As part of a plea agreement, Boxx, 54, admitted that while working as an inmate classification specialist at the Washoe County jail, she smuggled in special tanning lotion requested by Francis as well as DVDs.
However, the Sparks woman said she never connected that to the $1,680 worth of cash and gifts she received from a Hollywood associate of Francis, the creator of the soft porn empire worth millions.
"I really had no idea. But I know ignorance of the law is no excuse," Boxx said.
The gifts included an airplane ticket to visit her grandchildren in New York, a television and entertainment center and $1,000 in cash the associate, Aaron Weinstein, said she should hold in case Francis needed it.
"He may have been trying to compromise her, but he never said I'm going to give you a TV if you do this. There was no quid pro quo," said lawyer Robert Walker, who represents Boxx.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Rachow said prosecutors never claimed Boxx was a bad person.
"But she made a bad decision," he said "The decision was a crime, and there are consequences for decisions. ... She knew what she was doing was wrong."
‘A very demanding inmate’
A federal judge in Los Angeles sentenced Francis in November to 301 days already served and a year of probation for filing false income tax returns and bribing jail workers in Nevada.
Weinstein also admitted providing ex-Washoe County deputy Ralph Hawkins with $3,200 in cash and four tickets to an Oakland Raiders football game. Hawkins pleaded guilty, was fined $4,000 and sentenced to three years probation.
Francis was a high-profile inmate when he arrived at the Nevada jail in June 2007 and soon transferred into the mental health unit because jail officials feared for his safety. The area features less stringent supervision.
"He was a very demanding inmate," Walker said. "He made a lot of complaints and irritated a lot of people."
Boxx met with Francis several times a week. They walked together in the jail exercise yard and eventually became friends, Walker said.
Boxx brought him tanning lotion he couldn't get in the jail commissary. She said the DVDs were not delivered directly to Francis but instead placed in a secure drawer where other inmates could ask to view them.