tampabay.com

Former SOCom colonel gets 15 months

A jury found retired Army Col. Tom Spellisy guilty of one count of conspiracy, two counts of bribery and two counts of wire fraud.  

By CARRIE WEIMAR
Published August 14, 2006


TAMPA  -- Tom Spellissy must serve 15 months in prison for a conspiracy involving government contracts at Special Operations Command, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge James Whittemore, who last month threw out the bulk of the case against Spellissy, appeared to struggle with the decision. He weighed his options for more than an hour and frequently noted Spellissy's sterling character and 29-year military career.  

Whittemore also noted Spellissy's wife was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and he has two young children.  

But in the end, Whittemore said he had no choice but to sentence Spellissy to prison.  

"Probation is simply not appropriate for this kind of offense."  

Spellissy was accused by prosecutors last year of paying $4,500 in bribes to William Burke, a private contractor at SOCom, which has its headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base.

A jury found Spellissy guilty of one count of conspiracy, two counts of bribery and two counts of wire fraud.  

In July, Whittemore dismissed the charges of bribery and ordered a new trial on the wire fraud charges.  

Spellissy faced a maximum penalty of two years in prison for the conspiracy charge.  

At the urging of his lawyer, Pat Doherty, Spellissy will not have to begin his prison sentence until an appeal is completed.