McDonnell Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

On Tuesday a federal judge sentenced former governor Bob McDonnell to two years in prison, calling his corruption case “tragic from beginning to end,” reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Family and friends of McDonnell wept in the first row of the courtroom as McDonnell, flanked by his lawyers, quietly stood as Judge James R. Spencer handed down the ruling. The only consolation for McDonnell and his supporters is that the two year sentence is much less than the 10-12 years which were recommended  by federal authorities.

McDonnell pleaded for Spencer to show mercy to his wife Maureen, who was convicted of eight charges, whose sentencing is set for February 20th.

Probation Officers Recommend 10-12 Years for McDonnell

Under federal sentencing guidelines, former governor Bob McDonnell could face a prison sentence anywhere from 10 years and a month to 12 years, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. 

In a report filed Dec. 2 by a source who is familiar with the guidelines confirmed these sentences toThe Washington Post.

After a six-week federal trial a jury found McDonnell guilty of 11 corruption charges and his wife guilty of 9. However, since the end of the trial in September, a judge threw out one of the former first lady’s convictions bringing her total to 8.

As of now they recommendation laid out by the guidelines is still preliminary and is expected to be argued by both sides.

“I think most people were thinking 10 to 12 years when they looked at the guidelines for public corruption,” said Andrew G. McBride, a former federal prosecutor in Virginia and current defense lawyer. “I think there’s also kind of a consensus that that’s extremely high for the conduct involved here.”

The recommendations are determined by a complicated formula that takes into consideration the nature of the crime, the defendant’s background as well as other factors.

McDonnell’s Lawyers Now Tackle Page Counts

Bob McDonnell’s defense lawyers are not fighting for a page count on McDonnell’s sentencing memorandum, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. His lawyers have filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer to be allowed to surpass the 30-page limit on the memorandum.

“The government will likely ask for a very substantial prison sentence for conduct the defense submits is outside the heartland for public corruption cases,” McDonnell’s lawyers wrote.

The lawyers also claim that the extra pages are necessary to completely address “the entire life of the defendant.” They are seeking the ability to be able to file a 50-page memorandum on Dec. 23, the date which all of the parties are required to file their positions on sentencing. The U.S. attorney’s office remains opposed to the request.

“Mr. McDonnell stands before this court convicted of 11 felonies. He should be afforded no greater or lesser consideration from this court than an other defendants. As such, his motion that the court set aside the page limitations…for every other criminal defendant should be denied,” wrote the U.S. attorney’s office. They also argue that more than 30 pages of briefing is unnecessary.

Prosecutors also wrote, “Mr. McDonnell testified on direct examination, without objection from the Government, about the vast majority of his life, including: his parents’ background, times at high school, ROTC scholarship to Notre Dame, military experience, law school experience, prosecutorial experience, experience as a private practice attorney, his children and siblings, his General Assembly experience, his campaigns for  Virginia attorney general and governor, his professional accomplishments as an elected official and his relationship with his wife.”

Prosecutors continue to defend the need for the extension in order to present ” a full analysis of the unusual factors that distinguish this case and this defendant from any other public-corruption case on record.”

McDonnell and his wife Maureen are set to be sentencing on Feb. 20, after they were convicted in September by a federal jury for accepting more than $177,000 in gifts and loans from former StarScientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams, in exchange for promoting the company’s new dietary supplement.

Bob McDonnell Steps Out for Veteran’s Day Event

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell, who was convicted of corruption counts in September and is facing years of prison time, stepped out Tuesday for a Veterans Day ceremony in Richmond, reports The Richmond Times Dispatch.

“I’ve been here for many years. It’s a special day for people who served out country. I just wanted to come and be with fellow veterans to thank them for their service,” remarked McDonnell.

McDonnell is a retired Army Officer and was one of several hundred people in attendance at the Commonwealth Veterans Day Ceremony held at the Virginia War Memorial.

Previously, McDonnell came to the event as an invited dignitary but this year he arrived quietly after the even started and took a place near the back. He was not acknowledged by any of the speakers who included the current Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

McDonnell was approached by several well-wishers during the ceremony and stood conversing with people long after the event was over.

On January 6th Judge James R. Spencer will sentence McDonnell for his conviction of corruption. The former governor would not answer any questions about his case or how he is passing time as he waits for sentencing.

Federal Prosecutors Do Not Feel McDonnell Deserves a New Trial

The Washington Post is reporting that federal prosecutors are speaking out against former governor Bob McDonnell’s claim that he deserves a new trial. McDonnell holds that the federal judge told jurors that many of the defense attorney’s arguments were one the judge had already rejected.

These opinions from the federal prosecutors were not surprising and U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer is very likely to agree with them as he has in the past with similar disputes. These motions still give a preview into the battle that is likely to happen in the federal courts of appeals. They also reveal that the dismissal of a juror on the 12th day of the trial is on reason for the couple’s bid for a new trial.

Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen were convicted last month of lending the prestige of the Governor’s office to StarsScientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in exchange for loans, vacations and luxury goods.

McDonnell Corruption Case Leads to Delay of Selection for U.S. Attorney’s Replacement

One of the many implications caused by the corruption trial of former governor Bob McDonnell is the delay in selecting the replacement for the US attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Kevin Hall a spokesman for Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), whose office is in charge of the search for a replacement said “We put the process on hold due to the U.S. attorney’s role in the case involving former Gov. Bob McDonnell. The U.S. attorney’s office has been well-managed by a highly respected career federal prosecutor. In coming weeks, we will make decisions about moving this process forward.”

The Eastern District of Virginia’s US attorneys office has been one of the most important federal prosecutor shops in the country. It has almost 300 employees working in Alexandria, Richmond, Norfolk and Newport News.

Dana Boente has served as the interim U.S. attorney in the meantime, and her success has landed her as one of the top candidates for the permanent position. She has served in temporary capacities in New Orleans as well. Ultimately the president will appoint the position, but he does take Virginia senators’ recommendations and from there it is up to the Senate to confirm the nominees.

Virginians React to McDonnells’ Guilty Verdict

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting mixed feelings from Virginia’s residents over the guilty verdict in the McDonnell corruption case.

Many residents were sympathetic to the couple’s personal trials and tribulations, including Alex Schrewsberry of Richmond, who felt “that authorities needed to make an example of somebody, but he also believes there are politicians about whom ‘you might be able to find similar circumstances.'”

Others took a much less sympathetic approach, such as Virginia Tech student Emily Bargamin. She expressed that she felt the jury came to the right decision and she was glad to hear that the former governor broke down in tears as the verdict was announced.

The midterm elections are approaching and the government’s approval ratings are exceptionally low, and the case of Bob McDonnell represented to many the corruption and problems that are happening in government today. With McDonnell soiling the office that was once held by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, it is easy to see how the integrity of today’s politicians has changed.

Verdict: McDonnells Found Guilty

Weeks of testimony the trial involving former governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen finally came to a close as the jury’s guilty verdict was announced on Thursday, reports The New York Times.

The case has ruined McDonnell, who was once thought to have a shot at a 2016 presidential run, while exposing deeply personal and embarrassing woes regarding the state of his marriage to the former first lady of Virginia.

On Thursday, the jury announced that they had found McDonnell guilty on eleven counts of conspiracy, bribery and extortion while his wife was convicted of nine counts. The jury, comprised of seven men and five women, took three days to deliberate. The McDonnells both have the potential of facing years of jail time.

The testimony from the McDonnells that their broken marriage lead them to not be able to properly communicate, much less conspire to lend the power of the office of the governor, failed to convince the jury of their innocence.

The sentencing of the McDonnells is set for early January.

Jury in McDonnell Case Will Begin Deliberations on Tuesday

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that after the long Labor Day weekend, the jury in the corruption trial of former governor Bob McDonnell will begin their deliberations on Tuesday.

The jury is made up of seven men and five women with one alternate. They listened to the closing arguments from both the defense and prosecution for seven hours on Friday as the 25th day of the trial came to a close.

Final days of the trial were focused on the McDonnell’s defense working tirelessly to convince jurors that the former governor gave nothing to StarScientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr. in exchange for the $170,000 in loans and gifts. The defense focused on painting a picture the McDonnell’s strained and failing marriage, where the extreme lack of communication would have made it impossible for McDonnell and his wife Maureen to co-conspire, as the prosecution is alleging.

After almost 70 witness testimonies this historic trial is almost coming to an end. The decision of the jury will weigh heavily on the nature of politics in Virginia as the rest of the country eagerly awaits for the decision to be handed down.

McDonnell’s Daughter Recounts Troubled Marriage

The testimony from the McDonnell’s oldest daughter, Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky, solidified the defense’s claim of the former governor’s troubled marriage, reports The Washington Post. 

Zubowsky began her testimony stating that she “loves her mother and father very much”, and then started to divulge the secrets of their rocky marriage. She asserted that the responsibilities of her father’s political career often caused him to neglect parenting duties leaving his wife Maureen to feel “frustration, loneliness and anger at times.” Zubokswy also added that the former first lady turned to drinking, soap operas and long baths in efforts to relieve stress.

Zubowsky remembered that her mother worked as a waitress and a typist to help support McDonnell and put him through law school. When his career took off as he became a prosecutor and state delegate, his wife was isolated at home taking care of their five children. The marital problems only worsened as McDonnell’s career continued to rise.

Jeanine was one of four witnesses who testified for Maureen McDonnell’s defense and after her testimony the case was handed back to the prosecutors.

The eldest McDonnell daughter’s testimony supports the defense’s core claim that the lack of communication in the McDonnell’s failing marriage means that it would have been impossible for them to conspire to accept almost $170,000 from Jonnie R. Williams in exchange for the prestige of the governor’s office.