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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

McDonnell sentencing handed out: two years in federal prison

Governor McDonnell's appeal DENIED.   Story here from NBC Washington.

**Original article **  
 Former governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell talked to the media today after being sentenced to two years in federal prison on charges of accepting more than $170,000 in bribes and gifts from wealthy Star Scientific businessman, Jonnie Williams.


McDonnell, with his two daughters by his side, including mom-to-be Jeanine McDonnell-Zubowsky, walked out of the Richmond, Virginia federal courthouse set on appealing his conviction.   He faced ten years in prison, but presiding U.S. District Judge James Spencer considered the more than 150 letters of support from friends and family, in-court testimonies - including that of former governor Doug Wilder (who gave no comments to the media as he left the courthouse) - and McDonnell's military service in his lenient sentencing that some found appalling, (questioning whether white privilege prevailed), while others found the sentencing to be satisfying.

McDonnell's daughter holds on to her dad's arm as they approach the media after his sentencing.  Photo/CD Brown.

"This case, from the outset, was about dishonesty and corruption", said special agent Adam S. Lee.

FBI special agent to the McDonnell case, Adam S. Lee.  Photo/CD Brown.
 "I think this court's comments at the sentencing illustrated that plainly.  No elected official, irrespective of their popularity, or the power they wield, is above the law."  Continued Adams,"public corruption poses a significant threat to our security, and our way of life - nationally, and here in the commonwealth."  Adams said that "no one wins" citing "there is no victory lap in these types of cases."  When asked about the reduction from ten to two years, Lee said he didn't want to comment but did say "any prison time for an elected official is punishment" and "does send an important message", suggesting again, that no one is above the law.

Bob McDonnell hugs his daughters outside the Richmond federal courthouse after being sentenced to
 two years in prison on corruption charges.  Photo/ CD Brown.

While prosecutors made their remarks, one zealous reporter could be heard shouting, "Why not put all the governors in jail? They're all corrupt!!"

McDonnell becomes the first Virginia governor to be sentenced for wrongdoing.  His sentencing is scheduled for February 9th, but his attorneys vow to appeal.

One supporter outside the courthouse said to McDonnell, "It's okay governor, it's okay." McDonnell responded saying, "Thank you sweetie", then walked to the podium in front of the throngs of awaiting media to say that he "disagrees with the verdict", vowing to file an appeal later today, or tomorrow morning.

McDonnell's daughter, Jeanine McDonnell-Zubowsky looks at the crowd of media. It was reported that the McDonnells' friend Jonnie Williams, of Star Scientific, paid for her wedding.  Photo/CD Brown.

"I'm a fallen human being.  I've made mistakes in my life", McDonnell said. "I've always tried to put the best interest of the people first as governor (this man might disagree), but I have failed at times." He went on to say, "I have never, ever betrayed this sacred office while serving as governor of this great commonwealth." McDonnell didn't take questions from the media, but did thank the many supporters (old and new), his legal team, friends and family, and the love of Jesus Christ.

"That's what has kept me going", he said.

Amid "tears" and "sighs" inside the courtroom today, as told to us by Bishop Courtney McBeth, a supporter of McDonnell, who said he expects that the family is both "relieved" and "grateful" to learn of the light sentencing, but said, "Even two years away from your children is a long time." (Tell that to the scorns of men actually sentenced to ten, or more, years for even lighter charges than political corruption).

McDonnell's wife, Maureen McDonnell, also charged with corruption (accepting expensive gifts), is awaiting her own turn in court, which should take place in February, the same month her husband is scheduled to begin serving time.

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