Gov. McDonnell sentenced to 2 years in prison

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A federal judge sentenced former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to two years in prison on Tuesday.

Gov. McDonnell faced between 78 to 97 months on the 11 corruption counts under the reduced sentencing guidelines revised by Judge James R. Spencer earlier in the hearing.

Despite hundreds of letters and hours of testimony from family members, and colleagues from charitable, military and political aspects of the former Republican star's life, the federal judge ultimately decided against the defense team's request to have McDonnell avoid prison time and conduct community service instead.

Spencer sentenced McDonnell to two years on each count to run concurrently, as well as two years probation. He has until February 9 to surrender himself to the Bureau of Prisons.

Spencer revised the guidelines based on defense objections made shortly after court began at 10 a.m. McDonnell's lawyers argued the total of all gifts received by the former governor should be $69,000, down from $177,000. Spencer weighed the arguments and also removed an enhancement from an obstruction of justice charge, then lowered the guidelines from 10 to 12 years down to 78 to 97 months.

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Defense attorneys called Ret. Col. Gary Nelson as the first character witness. Col. Nelson was McDonnell's commander for five years and called him compassionate and merciful, saying :people are drawn to him because of his very persona."

William Horan of Operation Blessing International next took the stand to ask Spencer to "please have mercy" on the former Republican political star. He requested McDonnell go to Haiti and perform charitable work on the foundation's behalf instead of heading to prison.

The former governor's younger sister, Nancy, also took the stand, as did former Governor Doug Wilder, Speaker William Howell, NFL veteran Bruce Smith, Monseigneur Timothy Keeney, Radio One personality Clovia Lawrence, former Cabinet Secretary Terrie Suit, former Commonwealth Secretary Janet Kelly, head of Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Michael Zajur, and law colleague Albert Poole.

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