RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell addressed a large crowd of reporters and passersby, who gathered after he was sentenced to 24 months in prison on Tuesday.
McDonnell first thanked Judge James Spencer for the "mercy he dispensed." He strongly maintained his innocence, and says he disagrees with the jury's verdict.
"I am a fallen human being," he told dozens of reporters Tuesday afternoon. "I've made mistakes in my life. I always tried to put the best interests of the people first as governor, but I have failed sometimes in some of the judgments I have made. I have hurt myself, my family and my beloved people of Virginia, and for that I am deeply, deeply sorry. But I would also say to the great people of Virginia that I have never ever betrayed my sacred oath of office."
McDonnell specifically mentioned his wife, Maureen, when thanking his family. The former first lady will not be sentenced until February 20. Many politicos and legal analysts were surprised Mrs. McDonnell showed up at court because of the strained state of the couple's marriage, brought out in testimony during the trial.
The other Maureen in the former governor's life, his sister, came to his defense after the hearing.
"I just appreciated the great deviation from the guidelines," Maureen McDonnell said. "Certainly, we came in today thinking we could face a whole lot worse, but through prayer and support and just believing that justice does prevail ultimately we were very happy."
McDonnell's sister Nancy took the stand as a character witness for the governor Tuesday.
"You know, I was nervous, but it was something I really wanted to do," she said after the hearing. "I love Bob. I believe in Bob. I know he's innocent and I was anxious to tell Virginia."
As Bob McDonnell reiterated his claims of innocence, he told reporters his legal team will be appealing the verdict. He is hoping to be able to stay out of prison while that process takes place.