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updated: 8/2/2011 11:16 AM

Ill. lawyer imprisoned for taking drugs to inmate

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Associated Press

A southern Illinois defense attorney who once served as a judge has been ordered to spend a year and four months in federal prison after he admitted in court that he tried to sneak heroin to a former client serving a life sentence in a federal lockup in Indiana.

Robert Drew, 69, told a judge he was "sincerely remorseful" before being sentenced Monday in Terre Haute, Ind., where he pleaded guilty to attempting to provide a prohibited object to an inmate at the federal prison in that city.

Prosecutors say he tried to smuggle a drug-filled condom a year ago to inmate Benjamin Kramer, who Drew had represented in a drug-conspiracy case that resulted in Kramer getting a life sentence.

During Monday's sentencing hearing, Drew's wife, Joyce Drew, testified that her husband blamed himself for what she called the "harsh" sentence and thought getting heroin to the inmate was one way to make it up to him.

A federal prosecutor, James Warden, called that absurd, telling a judge "the government has heard no remorse, just excuses" for trying to smuggle into the prison enough heroin that Warden said amount to dozens of doses.

While on bond in January, Drew was found shot outside a Harrah's casino in the southern Illinois city of Metropolis. Metropolis police have refused to discuss the shooting involving Drew, though his attorney said in a court filing that the shooting was a suicide attempt.

Court documents say Drew lost an eye in the shooting. He wore a black patch over his right eye in court Monday.

"I brought shame and disgrace on my family," Drew told the judge. The former prosecutor served as a judge in southern Illinois' First Judicial Circuit in the 1990s. "I'm sincerely remorseful, I have been and I'm going to be no matter what Your Honor does. I would prefer not to die in jail but that's a distinct possibility in my case. I sincerely regret having done what I did."

Prosecutors had sought a prison term of up four years and nine months to roughly six years in prison for Drew, who court documents show surrendered his law license after his arrest.

The judge ordered Drew to report to a halfway house in Evansville, Ind., where he was to stay until he reports to prison at an unspecified time.