Ex-Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell Sentenced: 5 Legal Questions and Answers

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on January 06, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has been sentenced to two years in prison on corruption charges.

The sentence was imposed today by U.S. District Court Judge James R. Spencer, reports The New York Times. McDonnell was convicted in September of accepting loans and gifts from a businessman in exchange for political favors.

What should you know about McDonnell's sentencing? Here are five legal questions and answers:

  1. What led to the charges against McDonnell? Bob McDonnell was indicted in 2014 after an investigation uncovered a vast array of gifts given to McDonnell and his family by a political donor named Jonnie Williams. These include use of an aircraft, shopping sprees, a Rolex watch, and catering at McDonnell's daughter's wedding. In exchange for these gifts, McDonnell provided Williams access to the governor's office and promoted Williams' nutritional supplement company.
  2. What was McDonnell charged with? McDonnell was charged with 14 counts including fraud and corruption. His wife Maureen was also charged with 14 criminal counts. Bob McDonnell was reportedly offered a plea deal in which he would plead guilty to a single charge and his wife would have walked free. But McDonnell apparently declined the deal, setting the stage for the trial.
  3. How much prison time could McDonnell have faced? McDonnell had initially faced up to 20 years in prison, but the judge later lowered McDonnell's potential sentence to between six-and-a-half to eight years. At his sentencing hearing today, McDonnell's lawyers, members of his family, and members of the community asked for lenience from the judge. This may have influenced the judge's decision to sentence McDonnell to 24 months in prison, well below the recommended sentencing guidelines and significantly less than the 78 months that prosecutors had requested.
  4. When will McDonnell begin serving his sentence? McDonnell was ordered to turn himself in on February 9. He will serve his time in a federal prison, most likely in a minimum security facility similar to the Federal Correctional Institute in Danbury where "The Real Housewives Star of New Jersey" star Teresa Giudice began serving her own 15-month prison sentence yesterday.
  5. Can McDonnell appeal? An individual convicted of a crime generally has the right to appeal his case to a higher court. According to USA Today, McDonnell's lawyer filed a motion yesterday asking that McDonnell remain free on bond pending an appeal of his conviction, which was denied. But now that McDonnell has been sentenced, it is likely that he will appeal his conviction.

Bob McDonnell's prison term was not the only part of his sentence. After prison, McDonnell will be required to serve another two years of supervised release.

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