A former U.S. governor in the state of Virginia, Robert McDonnell, has been sentenced to a two-year prison term in a corruption case.
The 60-year-old McDonnell was once a rising star in the Republican Party and was even mentioned as a possible U.S. presidential or vice presidential contender.
But that changed quickly after his tenure as Virginia’s top elected official ended early last year and within days, he was indicted, along with his wife Maureen.
After a lengthy trial, they were convicted in September for their acceptance of about $177,000 in gifts and loans from businessman Jonnie Williams, who was looking to promote the merits of a dietary supplement to state officials.
McDonnell’s lawyers sought to have him perform 6,000 hours of community service, without prison time. McDonnell told federal judge James Spencer Tuesday in the state capital, Richmond, that he was “a heartbroken and humbled man.”
Spencer said he was moved by an outpouring of support for McDonnell and calls for leniency in the sentence, as McDonnell could have faced more than a decade in federal prison.
The judge, however, said, “A price must be paid. Unlike Pontius Pilate, I can’t wash my hands of it all. A meaningful sentence must be imposed.”
He said McDonnell is required to report to prison by February 9, although his lawyers say they plan to appeal the verdict.
The sentence handed McDonnell fell well below U.S. sentencing guidelines for the extent of the corruption for which a 12-member jury had found him guilty.
Maureen McDonnell, who is now estranged from the former governor, is scheduled for sentencing next month.