A man who used his unwitting children, wife and lovers to victimize his church in a fake hate-mail campaign was sentenced yesterday to two years in prison.

The term imposed against Frantz Cadet, 48, was twice as long as called for under federal sentencing guidelines. U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer said, "This case has been puzzling, to say the least, from the very beginning."

He said the evidence showed Cadet used some of his six children and two women he was having affairs with to unwittingly assist him in his crimes; disrespected his wife; and abused the love and charity shown him by his church.

"It's a long history of selfishness. . . . It's just hard to understand," Spencer said.

Cadet, 48, a political refugee from Haiti, was convicted by a federal jury in June of nine counts of mail fraud and one of lying to a federal agent. Authorities alleged Cadet's intent was to win assistance from the Southside Nazarene Church in Chesterfield County and to keep his job there.

In 2005, more than 100 anonymous letters with derogatory statements about Cadet were mailed to members of his church. At the time, he was in danger of losing his janitorial job for poor performance.

FBI special agent Judy A. Sykes, a member of the church, learned about the letters from the church's pastor, Jerome Hancock, who made an announcement about them before a service.

Sykes started a hate-crime investigation that led back to Cadet as a suspect. Among other things, testing by the FBI and an independent laboratory found the DNA of Cadet or some of his children on all 20 letters randomly selected for testing.

Two women -- who knew nothing of each other-- testified that they had romantic relations with Cadet, who told them his wife was dead. They said they addressed a number of the envelopes used in the scheme after Cadet told them the envelopes were for proper church uses.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for a term behind bars of six to 12 months.

In papers filed earlier in federal court, Cadet's lawyer, Paul G. Gill, concedes that, "the evidence describes facts that are truly stranger than fiction.

"The most unifying theme in this very unusual case is the idea of surprise, bordering on shock."

Gill asked Spencer yesterday to reject imposing a term over the guidelines. He said Hancock, the pastor, said, "the impact to the church, as a whole, was minimal."

But Peter S. Duffey, an assistant U.S. Attorney, complained that "this case is different. . . . The FBI spent years investigating a crime that didn't happen." Duffey asked Spencer to impose a sentence of 30 to 37 months.

Members of Cadet's family and Hancock were in attendance yesterday for the sentencing. Cadet apologized to his family, the church and the court.

After completing his sentence, Cadet will face immigration authorities and could be deported. Spencer allowed Cadet to remain on restricted release until he turns himself in Oct. 29.

Contact Frank Green at (804) 649-6340 or fgreen@timesdispatch.com.

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