Knoxville (WVLT) - A federal judge has sentenced a prime mover in Downtown Knoxville's Market Square renaissance, to more than six years in prison, for what prosecutors call a prime role in a multi-million dollar scheme to sell marijuana for more than a decade.
Scott west is the first of four family members sentenced after pleading guilty to conspiracy and money laundering.
First offense and cooperation, that is what kept west from receiving a much harsher sentence.
In jail garb, ankle irons, and cuffs, Scott West choked up apologized, and admitted his guilt to his family, and the community.
But he and prosecutors admit, what prompted such a quick deal, his desire to keep his market square holdings in the family, and the feds wish, to keep them viable.
Dozens of family members, friends, co-workers join Scott West's wife Bernadette for support during his sentencing.
Neither she nor they say a word upon leaving.
"We're happy that this is behind us. We're happy that the judges recognized that his cooperation was worth more than the government recommended," says Don Bosch, West's attorney.
Scott West and his attorneys admit he spent two million dollars earned from dealing marijuana to rebuild and build up for businesses in Market Square.
Properties now worth $4.5 million, when forfeited to the feds.
As part of his long apology west tells the court: "I let my strong drive to be a driving force in Downtown Knoxville's renaissance cloud my judgement and confuse it. I regret any hardship I have caused and will never make a mistake like this ever again."
Prosecutors though, say that Market Square was more than a dream, it was the laundry. The only way to keep the drug conspiracy going as long as it did.
"Scott made a logical and good assessment of things and he did the right thing," says Bosch.
The right thing, prosecutors argued, still should have meant seven years in prison. Rewarding scott for cooperation, but ensuring he was justly punished for criminal conduct.
"If you're asking did he get into this because this is the only place he could go to for money, that is not the case. He had many banks offering to lend him money to operate the businesses," says Bosch.
Businesses still open, which various relatives of Scott West now own and run, with a chance to recoup their investments or losses.
Businesses Scott West could return to, when his sentence is through.
A sentence, that with time off for good behavior and treatment for substance abuse, could be finished in as few as four years, with four years probation.
Scott West blames his brother Mike for much of the marijuana dealing.
Mike, his wife, and Scott's wife still face sentencing for their roles.