CHICAGO (STMW) — Eugene Mullins — Todd Stroger’s onetime chief media spokesman and best friend since childhood — was sentenced Friday to more than four years in prison on seven counts of bribery and wire fraud.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve said the 51-month sentence “will send a message to the public that corruption does not pay and that there are significant consequences,”

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Evidence at his weeklong trial showed Mullins, a 49-year-old South Sider and former Chicago cop, pocketed nearly $35,000 in kickbacks in return for steering four $25,000 county contracts to unqualified pals who never planned to do the work taxpayers were paying them for back in 2010.

“Mr. Mullins, you were a public official. … You should have acted in the public’s interest, but you didn’t,” St. Eve said.

Brunell Donald-Kyai, one of Mullins’ lawyers, has said Mullins was innocent and was being punished for refusing to turn on and provide false testimony against Stroger, the former Cook County Board president who Mullins says was the feds’ real target.

“This case was always about Todd Stroger — I’ve said that from the beginning,” Donald-Kyai said after Mullins was convicted.

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“This isn’t any different from Roman times when people went through trials for political reasons,” she said then.

Stroger, who was not charged in the case, has denied any wrongdoing.

The feds said the charges stemmed from a joint investigation with state officials that previously led to the indictment of Stroger’s one-time deputy chief of staff, Carla Oglesby, charged in 2010 with steering no-bid, no-work contracts to her own firm and that of her pals.

She was found guilty of theft and money laundering charges and is awaiting sentencing April 8.

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(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)