Andrea Sneiderman listens as the jury is polled on the verdict, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, in Decatur, Ga. Sneiderman, accused of lying to investigators about the death of her husband, was convicted of perjury and several other counts on Monday. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson)
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 4:13 pm
Ga. widow gets prison for lies during death probe
By KATE BRUMBACKAssociated Press
The judge handed down a five-year sentence for Andrea Sneiderman on Tuesday. However, the judge said Sneiderman will get credit for time she's served in custody and under house arrest, which means she'll spend about four years behind bars.
Prosecutors had asked for a 20-year sentence after Sneiderman was convicted of perjury, making false statements and other counts. In the end, the judge gave Sneiderman several five-year sentences, but ordered them to run concurrently.
Sneiderman's defense attorneys said she plans to appeal on multiple grounds.
"We are confident and hopeful that Andrea will win," defense attorney Doug Chalmers said. "We are also hopeful that in the very near future she will be reunited with her children and will be able to start rebuilding a life that was shattered because Hemy Neuman would not take no for an answer."
Another defense attorney, J. Tom Morgan, said he'd already been in touch with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles and said he hoped Sneiderman would be released soon.
Sneiderman's former boss, Hemy Neuman, was convicted of fatally shooting her husband outside a preschool in suburban Atlanta. She was initially charged with murder, but prosecutors dropped the murder charges on the eve of jury selection and instead went forward with the other counts.
Sneiderman had said through tears earlier in the day that she hoped for a lenient sentence for the sake of her children.
"One of my greatest regrets will always be allowing this predator into my life," Sneiderman said of Neuman.
"Mr. Neuman changed my children's lives forever by killing their father," she added. "Please don't make them live without their mother."
A string of Andrea Sneiderman's friends also took the stand to ask the judge for leniency. Many told him she is a wonderful mother and said her children needed her.
A friend who said he was closer to Rusty Sneiderman testified on her behalf.
"I still believe Rusty would want Andrea to be with their children," said Paul Sims, adding that he hadn't seen Andrea Sneiderman in more than a year. "I don't believe that Andrea going to jail will help the children."
But Rusty Sneiderman's brother, Steven, called her a common criminal and a liar. She should not be allowed to use her children as "human shields" in an attempt to get a lighter sentence, he said.
"A very special man is gone because of her actions and all she can do is lie about it again and again," he added. "Self-preservation is the only thing on her mind."
In a news conference after Sneiderman was sentenced, DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said the system worked.
"She spoke today and she never took responsibility or accountability for (lying to police and a court)," James said. "It's difficult for me to feel sympathy when someone asks for mercy but they're not willing to admit their faults."
Jurors had found her guilty of nine of the 13 counts in the indictment, including making false statements to police investigating her husband's killing and lying under oath during Neuman's trial.
She was found guilty of hindering the apprehension of a criminal, concealment of material facts, three counts of giving false statements and four counts of perjury. She was found not guilty of three counts of perjury and one count of giving a false statement.
James reminded the judge that the prosecution had tried to reach a plea agreement with Sneiderman before trial but that she rejected the deal. Both sides declined to discuss the terms of that proposed deal.
Prosecutors maintained that Andrea Sneiderman was having a romantic relationship with Neuman and that she repeatedly lied about the relationship, which they said hindered the investigation into her husband's death. Sneiderman and her defense team repeatedly denied that there was a romantic relationship and said that police bungled the investigation by not focusing on Neuman even after she mentioned him to them.
She testified Tuesday that she saw Neuman as a mentor and began a friendship with him, and "the line of appropriate conduct clearly blurred."
"In hindsight I should have told Rusty about his advances," she said. "I should have quit my job, filed a report with HR and hid from Mr. Neuman."
She said she regrets sharing personal feelings with Neuman, but denied having a sexual relationship with him.
Sneiderman's defense has said prosecutors had a weak case, but were desperate to convict her of something.