Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, convicted by a jury on multiple counts of corruption and accepting what amounted to kickbacks, got an unusually and unexpectedly light sentence of two years in prison and two years probation on Tuesday. Despite that, he still plans to appeal the guilty verdict.
Bob McDonnell pleaded with the court for mercy. In the end, the judge showed him some.
The former Virginia governor was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison, followed by two years of probation, after being convicted of multiple counts of public corruption. The sentence was significantly less than what prosecutors had requested and what most observers had expected, and the Republican’s supporters were visibly shocked and delighted. People who had braced themselves for a prison sentence of closer to 10 years, and had sobbed throughout the proceedings, turned to one another with looks of stunned relief when the decision came down.
But the one-time rising GOP star — who called himself a “humbled man” and even asked Judge James R. Spencer to show mercy on his estranged wife, Maureen, when she is sentenced in the same case next month — made clear afterward that he would appeal the original guilty verdicts.“I want to thank the court and Judge Spencer for the mercy he dispensed to me today,” McDonnell told reporters in a brief statement outside the courthouse. “I also want to say that I disagree with the verdict that was rendered by the jury in this case and we intend to file our appeal to the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
Given how utterly ridiculous their defense strategy was at the trial — he claimed that it was all his wife’s fault and that they hated each other so much that they couldn’t possibly have colluded on corruption — it’s hard to imagine that his lawyers really think they can win an appeal. His wife was convicted as well but has not yet been sentenced.