In April, Slack installed a keystroke logger on his then-wife's work computer in magistrate court. Once installed, keystroke devices can intercept everything typed on a keyboard, including email and information transmitted to Internet sites.
Slack left the device in place for two weeks, until a technician discovered it.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby had asked the judge to sentence Slack at the top of the guidelines, to set an example for officials who break the public's trust. Ruby also noted the importance of maintaining confidential information on courthouse computers.
Slack "sought out the public's trust and had been granted that trust," Ruby said. The prosecutor also said that even if it wasn't Slack's intention to see privileged information, it was unavoidable.
Slack worked for the sheriff's department for about 16 years before he was elected sheriff. He took office in January.
He easily defeated two opponents in last year's Democratic primary, and ran unopposed in the general election. During his first months in office, he focused on expanding evening patrols and securing funding for a new home-confinement officer.
After reviewing 16 applications, Clay County commissioners on Sept. 25 appointed Home-Confinement Officer Garrett Samples to replace Slack.
Copenhaver said he received about 700 signatures on a petition asking for Slack to be granted leniency.
"The court recognizes you come here with a lifetime record that is good and wholesome," the judge said.
Bill Murray, Slack's attorney, described his client's activities as being emotionally charged and said the private information stored on the computer played no part in Slack's decision to hack the computer.
"I do realize the seriousness of my actions," Slack told Copenhaver. "If I could take them back I would. I really made a mistake. I'm very sorry that I did that, sir."
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.