"It is not surprising to me that even at this late hour that he's willing to cooperate," says former federal prosecutor Geoffrey Mearns. "The questions now becomes, how much value does he really have at this point?"
Mearns, who helped prosecute Terry Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing cases when he served as federal prosecutor, now serves as Provost at Cleveland State University.
"It was a week or two ago that a judge denied his request to attend a family wedding. That may have been the first time, even in a small way, that Mr. Russo began to understand the consequences of his conduct."
"Whatever little leverage Mr. Russo had twelve months ago, he has even less today," Mearns says. "It's unclear how much he can get for his cooperation."
Mearns says the punishment that awaits Russo is stiffer than similar cases he's seen before.
"Frankly, twenty-two years in prison for a white collar offense like this, even as pervasive at the corruption was, is a very stiff punishment."
Whether or not that sentence of twenty-two years is reduced will hinge on what kind of information Russo is able to provide. He's scheduled to report for his sentence in May of 2011, in the meantime he will spend the holidays at home. Is that kind of luxury afforded to most convicted felons? Mearns says yes.
"It is quite common that defendants are allowed to remain free, out on bail, between the time they plead guilty and the time they are incarcerated."