Two key figures in the McMahan brother drug conspiracy received stiff federal prison sentences last Wednesday for their part in what officials called a “decade-long” drug operation conspiracy. That operation was headquartered in a clothing store in the 5900 block of West Chicago Avenue, with its main sales operation in the 100 block of South Waller.

With some two dozen friends and family members present last Wednesday morning, Aug. 31, Federal District Judge Amy St. Eve sentenced 34-year-old Antonio McMahan to 324 months in prison. McMahan is the first of nine men convicted in a trial this past spring in St. Eve’s courtroom to be sentenced.

McMahan’s defense counsel, Steven Saltzman, had argued for a 210-month sentence. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Egan argued that 210 months was not nearly long enough for a person found guilty of three serious felonies and possessing McMahan’s criminal history. St. Eve sided with Egan, castigating McMahan for his lack of remorse despite what she termed compelling evidence and his attorney’s own words. Pointing to McMahan’s leadership in the decade-long drug operation, St. Eve told him that she found the fact that he showed no remorse “quite shocking.”

“For more than a decade, you were putting drugs on the streets of Chicago,” St. Eve told McMahan. “You were feeding addictions and ruining lives.”

It could have been worse?”St. Eve sentenced McMahan to the low end of a 324- to 405-month sentencing guideline. Still, with the requirement that at least 85 percent of a sentence be served before parole, the sentence guarantees that Antonio McMahan will be nearly 60 years old when he’s released from federal prison.

McMahan’s lawyer asked St. Eve to recommend he be sent to the Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wis., a medium security prison located 60 miles north of Madison. St. Eve replied that she would recommend McMahan serve his time near Chicago, but stressed that the final decision was solely up to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Noting that “families always suffer, and your family will suffer,” St. Eve. told McMahan and those in the gallery, “I wish more defendants thought of that [before] they committed these crimes.”

McMahan, dressed in an oversized orange prison jump suit and plain canvas sneakers, was then escorted to a door leading to the holding cells. Turning momentarily, he glanced over at family seated in the gallery, and gave a short wave and a half smile.

Out in the hallway, a young woman struggled with another woman seeking to console her.

“They can’t do this! No! They can’t do this,” she cried out, falling to her knees and sobbing.

Gino McMahan, 29, was to be sentenced next after Antonio, but told the judge that he had not had time to prepare an adequate response to the government’s presentencing report.

“I’m basically lost,” he told St. Eve.

When St. Eve asked if he’d spoken with his brother following Antonio’s sentencing, Gino said he hadn’t. However a U.S. Marshall said that Antonio had been placed in a holding cell with Gino immediately after being sentenced.

Asked by St. Eve how long he’d spoken with his lawyer about the presentencing report, Gino McMahan replied, “About two minutes.” However his lawyer, Turnley Lee Boyd, told the judge he’d conferred with his client for some 30 to 45 minutes.

“I’m fighting for my life here,” McMahan told the judge. “I need to study case law, and everything, to get my arguments set.”

St. Eve then told Boyd to spend all the time McMahan needed over the next two days to understand the ramifications of the presenting report.

“Sit down and go over this with him, line by line,” she told Boyd, and rescheduled McMahan’s sentencing for Sept. 2. The delay didn’t change the outcome much. On Sept. 2, Gino McMahan was sentenced to 26 years in prison.

Later on the morning of Aug. 31, St. Eve sentenced another McMahan conspiracy figure, DeShaun Smith, to 92 months in prison. Noting that she was impressed by Smith’s admission of personal responsibility and remorse for his actions, she told him, “I hope what you have said in this court is accurate. Serve your time and become a better person.”