A former publicist for the National Baptist Convention USA was sentenced today to nearly two years in prison for failing to pay taxes on more than $500,000 she received while working for the group.
Bernice Edwards was sentenced to 21 months and must also pay $109,000 to the IRS and serve three years of supervised release.
Edwards was the co-defendant in the trial of the Rev. Henry Lyons, a former director of the large and influential black church denomination now serving a 5 1/2-year sentence for embezzling $4 million from companies doing business with the group.
Edwards, 42, sobbed and asked U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams for leniency because she is a single mother of four children, including an infant.
"I'm very remorseful of the acts that I pleaded to and I take full responsibility for it," Edwards said. "I don't know how we can make it."
Edwards, of Milwaukee, faced up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
The judge ordered that Edwards undergo mental health treatment and not open new bank accounts or have any opened in her name.
Edwards was working as a publicist for the convention when she and Lyons, 57, were accused of purchasing real estate, jewelry and other items with money from the organization.
She was acquitted of racketeering charges but pleaded guilty to tax evasion in March.
CAPTION: Bernice Edwards walks to federal court Monday in Tampa, where she was sentenced for failing to pay taxes.