Former Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Eversole was sentenced Wednesday for lying to a federal investigator.
Eversole pleaded guilty to the charge in October as part of a plea bargain. He was sentenced to three years probation.
He did not speak to reporters after his sentencing.
KPRC Local 2 legal analyst Brian Wice said he was surprised by the sentence.
"He was public official who pled guilty to lying to a federal agent," Wice said. "That combination generally leads to some type of incarceration and not straight probation."
What may have helped Eversole was more than 185 letters from friends and associates, like First Assistant Harris County Attorney Terry O'Rourke, urging probation.
Judge David Hitner said the letter were the best-written and most numerous he had ever received for a sentencing.
Eversole had been charged with conspiracy, accepting a bribe and making false statements on tax returns in 2003 and 2004. All of those charges were dismissed.
"All he pleaded guilty to was being interviewed about six weeks before his friend was going to be indicted by the feds, he was asked about things of value that he had received from Mike Surface," Eversole's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in October. "He told them some, he didn't tell them all of them. What he pled guilty to was misleading the FBI by not telling them certain things about Mike Surface."
Part of the plea deal involved Eversole resigning from the office he had held since January 1991. He submitted that resignation in October and was later replaced by Jack Cagle. He is also not allowed to run for public office for 10 years.
Surface, Harris County's former facilities management director, had been indicted on conspiracy and paying a bribe. In October, he pleaded guilty to filing a false tax statement. He received three-year probated sentence Wednesday and was fined $5,000.
Surface and Eversole have been friends for many years.
The indictment accused Surface of paying more than $150,000 in bribes and Eversole of accepting them in return for five county contracts worth millions.
Court documents alleged that Eversole accepted a variety of payments from Surface, including a $63,000 check for a down payment on a new house, almost $17,000 worth of landscaping, more than $1,000 for a custom suit, five antique firearms and eight paid vacations.
Precinct 4 is the largest in Harris County with more than a million residents and an annual budget of $119 million.