RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell has been sentenced to 1 year and one day behind bars with two years of supervised release on federal corruption convictions.
Maureen McDonnell’s defense attorneys said that they plan to appeal the sentence. The former first lady will be allowed out on bond pending an appeal.
8News legal analyst Russ Stone says that at this point, it’s hard to tell what Maureen will actually serve. However, the sentence of 12 months and one day could be a shorter sentence than a 12 month sentence alone.
The judge did show leniency in the sentencing. Federal prosecutors had recommended an 18-month prison term — six months less than former Gov. Bob McDonnell got when he was convicted on 11 counts last month.
After the sentencing, McDonnell’s defense team approached the podium to make a statement. Her attorney William Burke thanked Judge James Spencer for showing great mercy in the sentencing. Still, Burke said that the team along with Maureen were “disappointed” that the sentence included a term of incarceration.
Maureen’s attorneys had asked Judge Spencer for probation and 4,000 hours of community service instead of incarceration.
Before Maureen was sentenced, character witnesses took the stand, including the former first lady herself, her daughter Rachel, her niece and former staffers. Several testified that Maureen had great anxiety over her role as first lady, but still had her heart in the right place.
When Maureen McDonnell took the podium, she thanked the judge for “showing mercy to my husband.” Maureen said that “the venom from that snake has positioned my marriage … my family …. the Commonwealth that I love.”
A friend of Maureen’s for over 40 years said she always wanted to be a mother and a wife. She also said she let the serpent into the mansion, in reference to the bribes from Star Scientific CEO Johnny Williams.
“I think she’s lost her life’s work.”
A psychologist from VCU hired to help Maureen manage her workload said she didn’t always think clearly because of a fear of disappointing people.
Rachel McDonnell took the stand before a 15 minute break was called.
“I love my mom,” Rachel said. “I don’t know how much more she can take.”
Rachel went on to tell the judge that she’s happy that he was able to see good in her dad.
“I hope you’re able to see that good in my mom as well.”
Before Bob McDonnell’s sentencing in December, the former governor’s daughters wrote a letter to Judge James Spencer (who is residing over their cases,) begging to keep their father out of prison and blaming their mother, Maureen, for his downfall.
McDonnell’s oldest daughter Jeanine not only supported her father in a letter to the judge but blamed Maureen, saying her mom “has always been concerned about getting discounts and freebies.” She goes on to say that “sadly, my opinion is that my mom has had mental health issues for many years.”
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.
8News reporters Parker Slaybaugh and Mark Tenia are both downtown covering this developing story. Watch 8News at 5, 5:30 and 6 for more.