RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A former Virginia finance secretary is going to prison. John Forbes II was sentenced today on a charge stemming from his time in office.
Forbes was given ten years in prison -starting immediately- for a scheme that landed him $4 million in taxpayer money, beginning while he was in office.
In 2001, John Forbes was Secretary of Finance under then-Governor Jim Gilmore...making him the commonwealth's top budget writer and money manager. But it was during his seven and a half months on the job, that Forbes was able to wire himself $4 million in taxpayer money.
According to his plea agreement, the scheme began in 2001. Forbes sat on the board of the Tobacco Commission with a goal to promote economic growth using funds from a national settlement. At his request, the commission approved a $5 million grant to a foundation Forbes created. But the so-called recipients of that money did not exist and the money instead was used for Forbes's personal benefit.
Attorneys said Forbes bought a huge house, and made six-figure investments...a scheme that did not unravel until earlier this year.
In court, Forbes said, "I was cocky, I was arrogant, I thought I knew better than others." adding that he was, "extremely sorry for those who were hurt."
Forbes requested to be released until the holidays were over, a request that was denied. Judge Henry Hudson told him, "You betrayed that trust" of the people. "I do not trust you to self-surrender."
In an extraordinary admission, Forbes told the judge that as the finance secretary, he knew his actions were immoral, but he "didn't honestly think they were illegal."
John Forbes will be 64-years-old when he's released from prison. After that, he must find a way to pay back $4 million to the Tobacco Commission.