RICHMOND — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, once on the short list to be Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate during the 2012 presidential race, was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison for taking bribes to promote a dietary supplement.
A jury in September found McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of public corruption. The couple accepted gifts including a Rolex watch, designer clothing and vacations in exchange for promoting a purported miracle cure made by Star Scientific Inc.
The company’s former CEO, Jonnie Williams, testified under immunity as the prosecution’s star witness in a case that exposed the details of the McDonnells’ shaky finances and troubled marriage.
In a strong but somber voice, McDonnell told the judge before sentencing that he was “a heartbroken and humbled man” and that he holds himself accountable.
“I allowed my life to get way out of balance,” he said.
When U.S. District Judge James Spencer announced the sentence, McDonnell was stoic. He is to report to prison by Feb. 9.
At the trial, the former governor said he began working unnecessarily late, just to avoid his wife’s angry outbursts and begged her to work on their deteriorating marriage. Defense attorneys claimed Maureen McDonnell developed a “crush” on Williams and was largely responsible for the couple’s cozy relationship with Williams.
McDonnell testified in his own defense during the six-week trial, acknowledging that he accepted Williams’ largesse but did nothing for him in return other than extend routine political courtesies. He was convicted of 11 counts.
“I’m 60 years old. Whatever days the Lord allows me, I dedicate anew to the service of others,” said McDonnell, whose lawyers had asked the judge to impose three years of community service. Prosecutors wanted more than 10 years in prison.
“It breaks my heart, but I have a duty I can’t avoid,” the judge said.
Maureen McDonnell, who did not testify, was convicted on eight counts. She will be sentenced Feb. 20.
LARRY O’DELL, Associated Press
ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press