Son of congressman-elect sentenced to 10 years

November 25, 2010 GMT

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — The 23-year-old son of an incoming Arkansas congressman was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his alleged role in a drug case, but he may get a vastly reduced sentence if he is accepted into a boot camp program.

James Phillip Womack, the son of Republican Rep.-elect Steve Womack, was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, which investigators said involved six grams of methamphetamine.

Steve Womack was elected to the Third District seat earlier this month. He will take over for Republican John Boozman, who mounted a successful campaign for U.S. Senate.

James Womack was originally charged with delivery of a controlled substance, but agreed to plead guilty under an agreement his attorney, Shane Wilkinson, reached with Chief Deputy Prosecutor Stuart Cearley.

Court documents show police recorded a $600 drug transaction between James Womack and a confidential informant.

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Cearley told Circuit Judge David Clinger that James Womack didn’t have a prior criminal history and that the plea was a fair resolution.

Steve Womack and his wife, Terri, released statement expressing support for their son.

“This has been a burden our family has carried for more than a year, and we respect the decision of the court,” the Womacks wrote. “Phillip made a terrible mistake and is accountable for his actions. He has disappointed a lot of people, including himself. We love our son and stand behind him as he works to put this behind him.

“Those families that have encountered issues with their children know the pain we’ve endured throughout all of this. We ask for your continued prayers and understanding.”

Wilkinson said his client was ready to accept the consequences of his actions.

“He’s always been willing to accept responsibility,” Wilkinson said. “He’s doing that today.”

Clinger said he would recommend Womack for boot camp, a 105-day program for non-violent first-time offenders.

If the boot camp doesn’t accept him, Womack must serve at least one-sixth of the 10-year sentence. Clinger ordered Womack to enter a prison drug-treatment program if he isn’t accepted into boot camp.

“He’s a good kid who made a mistake,” Wilkinson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after the plea. “He comes from a great family who has never made any excuses for him.”