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article imageBob McDonnell receives 2-year prison term for corruption

By Karen Graham     Jan 6, 2015 in Politics
Richmond - Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was sentenced to serve two years in prison today, after being found guilty on 11 charges of corruption in September 2014. He must surrender before 2 p.m. on February 9 to start serving his sentence.
In sentencing the former governor, U.S. Federal Judge James Spencer told the courtroom the historic corruption case "breaks my heart." But he added, "A price must be paid." Looking broken and beaten, the former rising star of the Republican Party stood before the judge with downcast eyes, quiet and obviously shaken.
In a packed federal courtroom in downtown Richmond, Virginia, McDonnell faced many in the local and national news media who had courted him in when he was being considered to give the rebuttal to President Barack Obama's 2010 State of the Union address. But now, to his shame, he will be known as the first Virginia governor to be convicted of public corruption.
Bob McDonnell might consider himself lucky in some respects. Prosecutors had asked that he be given a 10-year prison sentence while the defense had asked for 6,000 hours community service. The sentencing took place after a lengthy parade of character witnesses were heard and some technical questions were mulled over between the attorneys and the court over sentencing guidelines.
McDonnell could have received 10 1/2 years to 12 years based on federal sentencing guidelines. The judge reduced the sentence to 6 1/2 to eight years. Judge Spencer said he had taken into account the hundreds of letters and testimony supporting McDonnell as a military veteran, lawyer, ex-legislator, former attorney general and ex-state chief executive, acknowledging he "was a generous, decent man who has done a lot of good."
But Judge Spencer also noted that the defendant had received good and consistent advice and counsel from people who knew Jonnie Williams Sr. "and it went unheeded." Williams, the Governor and First Lady's wealthy benefactor turned out to be the government's leading witness. The immunity that Williams received is still being talked about today. "A price must be paid... "It breaks my heart. I have a duty and a responsibility I cannot avoid," Spencer said.
The Governor and First Lady were convicted of accepting $165,000 in gifts and loans, including a Rolex watch, designer clothing and vacations in exchange for promoting Star Scientific, a vitamin firm, and doing favours for its chief executive, Jonnie Williams Sr. According to the BBC, Mrs. McDonnell also had a crush on Williams.
Even though McDonnell told reporters he planned to appeal the sentence, where it stands now, after serving his two years in a minimum security facility in nearby Petersburg, Va., he will be on two years supervised probation. Additionally he must repay $1,100, or $100 for each charge, and he is not allowed to open credit charges or open new lines of credit during the two years he is on probation, unless he receives permission from his probation officer.
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