Former governor faces two years in prison

Matt Leonard
Online Content Editor

Photo by Michael Melkonian

The former governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, will begin a two-year prison sentence on Feb. 9.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, were found guilty of corruption charges in September. They had been using the influence of the governor’s mansion to acquire gifts and favors from former Star Scientific, Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams.

The company announced Williams would resign from his position after his Dec. 27 shareholder meeting.

The Tuesday sentencing began with Judge James R. Spencer lowering the sentencing guidelines to between six and eight years. Before, the guidelines originally suggested more than 10 years for the governor, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. The judge decided a lesser sentence than what the guidelines suggested was appropriate.

The judge heard from witnesses about the character of the former governor. The 11th witness was former governor and VCU professor Douglas L. Wilder, who spoke positively of McDonnell.

“He’d be on the short list for president, without question,” Wilder said.

Supporters of McDonnell sent Judge Spencer over 443 letters of support before the sentencing. The letters included one from Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky, the former governor’s daughter. Within her letter Zubowsky blamed the circumstances on her mother who “has always been concerned about getting discounts or freebies.”

Maureen McDonnell was in the courthouse for the sentencing. The trial made the relationship of the married couple a public spectacle as it played an important part in the testimonies. The former governor has been living with a priest during this period.

McDonnell had 10 days to appeal, according to Charles E. James, a Richmond lawyer at Williams Mullen.

Maureen McDonnell will have a separate sentencing on Feb. 20.

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