An Alexandria Circuit Court Judge yesterday upheld the sentence of two years in prison and a $15,000 fine imposed by a jury last November on convicted bingo operator George Leonard Berry.
Judge Wiley Wright affirmed the sentence after the attorney for Berry expressed fears tht his client would not survive if he went to prison.
"He is overweight, he has high blood pressure and a bad leg. I don't think if he goes to prison that he will come out alive," said the lawyer, James I. Burkhardt.
Burkhardt argued that Berry had received "punishment enough" because of publicity and embarrassment since his trial and said imprisonment would serve no useful purpose.
Wilma Berry, the defendant's wife, testified yesterday that one of their children suffers from leukemia, and that the child's ability to fight the effects of the disease next week in a hospital would be lessened if, she experienced stress resulting from the jailing of her father.
Wright did not comment as he affirmed the sentence.
Berry was convicted Nov. 2 of illegal gambling in connection with bingo games he ran on behalf of various Alexandria charities. The jury that convicted him after, five hours of deliberation could have sentenced him to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Under Virginia law Judge Wright could have reduced the sentence but could not have increased it.