OCALA – Dr. James Scott Pendergraft IV, who owns two Orlando abortion clinics, conceded in federal court Tuesday that he impeded justice by supporting a business associate he knew was lying.
He pleaded guilty to one count of accessory after the fact to making a false statement, drawing to an end a four-year fight with prosecutors who once accused him of extorting from Marion County.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary R. Jones accepted Pendergraft’s plea and recommended that U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan approve the agreement. The plea deal calls for Pendergraft to be sentenced to a prison term of zero to six months.
He may not have to spend any more time behind bars — he already has served seven months.
His lawyer, Robert Buonauro of Orlando, said Wednesday he is satisfied with the plea agreement but would not comment further.
Pendergraft was convicted in February 2001 after he and his real-estate adviser filed a federal lawsuit against Marion County, saying his Ocala clinic was not given adequate protection against abortion protesters.
County officials contended the lawsuit was part of an extortion plot that would require them to pay the two to close the clinic, published reports show.
Pendergraft was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison. He had been incarcerated seven months when the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in July 2002.