Bob McDonnell, the former governor of Virginia, has been sentenced to
two years in prison for taking nearly US$170,000 ($219,000) in money
and gifts in exchange for promoting a dietary supplement while he was in
McDonnell, a rising star of the Republican Party who was
once on the short list to be Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running
mate in 2012, was sentenced after being convicted of 11 counts of
Bob McDonnell hugs daughters Cailin Young (left) and Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky outside the court. Photo / AP
The relatively light sentence surprised many after
prosecutors recommended a sentence of at least 10 years in prison,
requesting the judge to send a clear signal to government officials that
corruption would not pay.
McDonnell received a two-year
custodial sentence and two years’ probation from a US District Judge
sitting in Richmond. Defence lawyers for the former governor had asked
the judge to order three years of community service.
“No one wants to see the governor of Virginia in this kind of
trouble,” the judge, James Spencer, said before imposing sentence. “It
breaks my heart, but a meaningful sentence must be imposed.”
former governor and his wife, Maureen, were found guilty in September.
She was convicted of eight counts and will be sentenced next month.
McDonnell said he planned to appeal against the sentence. The six-week
jury trial exposed details of the former first couple’s strained
marriage and shaky finances.
McDonnell and his wife were charged
with receiving US$177,000 in loans and gifts from Jonnie Williams, a
dietary supplement entrepreneur, in exchange for promoting his company’s
main product, the anti-inflammatory Anatabloc.
Sixty per cent of
Virginia adults believed McDonnell should go to prison, according to a
poll in October bythe University of Mary Washington’s Centre for
Leadership and Media Studies.
Trial prosecutors contended
McDonnell and his wife conspired to use the governor’s office to boost
Williams’ company, Star Scientific and Anatabloc.
the hearing, McDonnell, who has a month to report to prison, thanked the
judge for “the mercy he showed me today”, but continued to deny any
“I am a fallen human being. I have made mistakes in
my life … But I have never betrayed my sacred oath of office while I
served the commonwealth.”