Jamaican News

Ex Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell looks to avoid prison at sentencing for corruption

By Larry O’Dell And Alan Suderman


(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. _ Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, once a top Republican prospect for national office, faces sentencing Tuesday for selling the influence of his office to the CEO of a dietary supplements company.

Prosecutors have recommended a prison term of at least 10 years for McDonnell, who was convicted of 11 counts of public corruption. Defence attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge James Spencer to order three years of community service, arguing that the federal investigation that destroyed his career and exposed details of his rocky marriage and shaky finances was punishment enough.

More than 400 people have written letters asking the judge to spare McDonnell from prison.

Several charities have offered McDonnell volunteer positions, including religious broadcaster Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing, which had jobs managing a hunger relief program in Appalachia and another working at an orphanage and fish farm in Haiti.

A jury in September found McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of accepting more than $165,000 in loans and gifts _ including a Rolex watch and designer clothing _ in exchange for promoting a nutritional supplement marketed as a miracle cure by Star Scientific Inc. The company’s former CEO, Jonnie Williams, testified under immunity as the prosecution’s star witness.

McDonnell acknowledged accepting Williams’ largesse but claimed he did nothing in return other than extend routine political courtesies.

Maureen McDonnell, who did not testify, will be sentenced Feb. 20 on eight counts.

At trial, the McDonnells’ defence strategy depended in large part on convincing the jury that their marriage was so strained they could not have conspired to squeeze bribes out of Williams. They arrived at and left the courthouse separately every day and rarely even glanced at each other.

The Associated Press

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