Former Arizona Gov. Fife Symington, his once-promising political career in ruins, was sentenced Monday to 2i 1/2 years in prison and five years' probation for his conviction on federal charges that he defrauded his lenders as a commercial real estate developer in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"It's sometimes hard to believe that, from such stupid mistakes, a nightmare was born and flourished," Symington told a hushed courtroom during the sentencing here Monday afternoon, his voice sometimes cracking as family members cried quietly in the front rows behind him and he described the five-year criminal investigation and trial as "the most brutal experience of my life."U.S. District Court Judge Roger Strand read his sentence solemnly from papers on the bench, seldom looking at Symington, a great-grandson of robber baron Henry Clay Frick who as recently as five years ago was considered among the national Republican Party's rising stars.
Strand reduced the sentence from the 10 years in prison that prosecutors had sought on the ground that the losses Symington caused his lenders by submitting false financial statements overstated the seriousness of his crime, and on the ground that his status as a former public official might subject him to physical harm in prison.
Symington was forced to resign after six years in office last September when he was convicted on seven felony counts of defrauding his lenders by falsely inflating his net worth to obtain new loans to salvage failing projects, then falsely deflating it in an effort to have loans forgiven.