DALLAS - Former Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway will spend the next 56 months in prison.
Caraway was sentenced on Friday to nearly five years in prison for his role in a fraud and tax evasion case. He pleaded guilty to the crime this past August.
The boisterous former Dallas mayor pro tem who rarely ducked reporter questions arrived at the federal courthouse in silence Friday.
A potential 7-year sentence awaited him as he went inside..
Prosecutors said Caraway admitted to accepting $450,000 in a bribery scheme that led to the shutdown of Dallas County Schools – the largest school bus service provider in North Texas.
In court, Caraway told the judge: "I made a mistake. Those things are erased. The good things. I let the poison come under the door. And it got into my nose."
Caraway was also ordered by the judge to pay more than $500,000 in fines. He was ordered to report to prison on May 5 -- one month from the date of his sentencing. He must serve at least 85% of his sentence in a federal facility.
“The judge gave a fair sentence,” Caraway told reporters as he left the courthouse.
Caraway admitted during sentencing he hurt the city and the people he was elected to represent. He apologized profusely for accepting nearly $500,000 of bribes.
“I apologize to each of you. I let a lot of people down,” Caraway said in court.
Judge Barbara Lynn scolded him harshly for turning into another politician on the take -- accepting bribes in exchange for influential votes.
“I believe you love the City of Dallas. Your whole life shows that. But you betrayed her. She deserved better,” Lynn said in court.
Three people, in addition to Caraway, went before the judge pleading for mercy and leniency for the former councilman.
"He realized he's made a mistake and he's embarrassed and just really remorseful for what he has done," Reverend Donald Parrish said.
“I come from a rough background and he saw me and he said, ‘Hey, I want to help,” and he lended out his hand he’s always been there for me ever since I was 12 years old to when I went to college up until now,” said Khalil Coffield.
Since his August guilty plea, Caraway has stayed mostly out of the spotlight he once basked in.
His annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaways were a hit with constituents.
He frequently made headlines, whether it was over a radio show clash with Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, sn anti-plastic bag campaign, or a fiery clash with his fellow council members arguing for his constituents.
But in court Friday, it was Caraway who faced the fury of a clearly disappointed judge.
Four other defendants in the case had already agreed to plea deals.
Caraway said in court he did not intend to go out of politics this way. But the remorseful man who once held the rank of acting mayor will report to federal prison a convicted felon.
The judge said she was ready to sentence Caraway to prison immediately.
However, she will allow him to report to prison May 5 to take care of personal matters with his late father's will.