UPDATED 02/03/11 12:47 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) — Former Chicago Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for political hiring abuses..

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Conway reports, Sanchez was convicted in July of last year of being part of a city hall hiring fraud scheme that prosecutors say cost Chicago taxpayers more than $1 million.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Conway reports

The government says Sanchez used his position as Streets and Sanitation chief, and head of the Hispanic Democratic Organization, to reward his political operatives with jobs and promotions.

Sanchez had been a key member of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s inner circle.

Originally convicted of mail fraud charges in 2009, Sanchez faced a two-week retrial after a federal appeals court judge tossed out the original conviction in December of that year, saying prosecutors had failed to disclose the criminal background of a witness at the first trial.

At the retrial, lawyers for Sanchez and his co-defendant, Aaron DelValle — who was also convicted of lying to a grand jury about the alleged scheme — argued that both men acted in good faith, blaming the mayor’s convicted patronage chief, Robert Sorich, for the illegal hiring.

But prosecutors said Sanchez had used his role overseeing 4,000 city jobs to build up the pro- Daley Hispanic Democratic Organization, “pulling the strings” to make the “sham” scheme work, and leaving qualified applicants without political connections no chance of being hired.

Prosecutors wanted a judge to sentence Sanchez to prison perhaps for as long as 12 years. But defense attorneys argued that no prison time was warranted, saying Sanchez provided great services to the city, and that he never benefited personally from any wrongdoing.

The charges against Sanchez arose out of the Hired Truck scandal.

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