Former Gov. Bob McDonnell was sentenced to 24 months in prison Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer. McDonnell, who was also sentenced to two years of supervision upon release from prison, was found guilty of several corruption charges in September stemming from an improper relationship with family friend Jonnie Williams, the CEO of nutrition supplement company Star Scientific.
U.S. prosecutors originally sought 10 to 12 years of prison for McDonnell, but later called for as few as six and a half years. The defense called for a sentence of 6,000 hours of community service and no prison time.
According to the Washington Post, Spencer called the prosecutor’s request, which complied with federal sentencing guidelines, “ridiculous,” but ultimately decided that “a meaningful sentence must be imposed.”
McDonnell and his attorneys have promised to appeal the conviction, and it is unclear whether he will be required to remain in prison during the appeals process. He is slated to enter a federal facility by early February.
McDonnell was found guilty of 11 charges of corruption in September when a jury found that he and his wife had accepted nearly $170,000 in benefits in exchange for promoting one of Williams’ products.
McDonnell’s wife, Maureen, will be sentenced in February.
“Today’s sentencing brings an end to one of the most difficult periods in the history of Virginia state government,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. “Like many Virginians, I am saddened by the effect this trial has had on our Commonwealth’s reputation for clean, effective government. As we put this period behind us, I look forward to working with Virginia leaders on both sides of the aisle to restore public trust in our government."
The Virginia legislature has passed several measures to strengthen ethics laws in Virginia, though McAuliffe vetoed one bipartisan bill in May. In September, McAuliffe signed an executive order to create the Governor’s Commission to Ensure Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government. The Commission has already released some of its recommendations.