updated 5/20/2008 10:44:10 AM ET 2008-05-20T14:44:10

A former Los Angeles police officer who participated in home invasion robberies staged to look like police raids was sentenced Monday to 102 years in prison.

William Ferguson, 35, was convicted of participating in more than 40 phony raids from early 1999 to June 2001 at homes in working-class neighborhoods while he worked at the department's scandal-ridden Rampart Division.

In January, a federal jury convicted him of conspiracy to deprive people of their civil rights, conspiracy to possess marijuana and cocaine, violating the civil rights of others and using a firearm during a violent crime.

Ferguson's sentence was so severe because he was convicted of four firearms charges which carry a mandatory sentence of 82 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Gary Allen Feess said that Congress passed such sentencing laws "because they don't trust people like me."

"It's not a reasonable sentence," he said.

After the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Miller said prosecutors were pleased.

Punishment too harsh?
Ferguson's attorney, Philip Deitch, said it was unfair and violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

"He's going to be 147-years-old when he gets out," Deitch said. "He's probably not going to see his children again."

Deitch said Ferguson was unfairly punished because prosecutors would not give Ferguson a plea agreement unless he testified against his brother Joseph Ferguson, an ex-Long Beach officer. Otherwise, his client would have pleaded guilty long ago, he said.

Joseph Ferguson, 33, was convicted of charges that included conspiring to violate civil rights and conspiring to possess drugs with the intent to distribute them. He was sentenced earlier this month to more than eight years in prison.

Besides the Ferguson brothers, 15 other people have pleaded guilty or were convicted in the case, including lawmen from other departments. Two others who have been indicted are fugitives.

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