When former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell walked into the federal courthouse January 7, he was looking at 10 to 12 years behind bars for corruption, as recommended by the probation office.
McDonnell will spend two years in federal prison on corruption charges starting in February, but the ex-Governor of Virginia voiced his strong faith in Jesus Christ despite the sentencing on Tuesday, reports the Christian Post.
Judge James R. Spencer of Federal District Court delivered the sentence to McDonnell, after the 60-year-old sought mercy on his public corruption convictions.
“I stand before you as a heartbroken and humbled man,” he stated in the courtroom before receiving his sentence.
McDonnell, in his final plea to the judge, said, “I acknowledge that I am a sinner with many, many human frailties.”
He said at the end he trusted in “the providence and protection of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The former governor was found guilty on September 4 on 11 of 13 charges filed against him for trading access to the power of the governor’s office for more than $165,000 in loans and high-end gifts. Spencer’s lenience surprised practically everyone, because the judge had seemed hostile to McDonnell and his attorneys during the trial, according to the Washington Post.
McDonnell referenced his faith while making a statement about the sentencing.
“I know the Lord Jesus Christ will be by me, His love never fails never gives up and never runs out on me,” McDonnell shared with reporters outside of the courthouse on Tuesday.
Nearly 450 people appealed to Judge Spencer, by letter, for leniency ahead of the hearing, citing McDonnell’s dedication to the Roman Catholic Church. The judge said he was impressed with the letters he received from McDonnell supporters. They described a man with an upstanding record before his sleazy dealings with businessman Jonnie Williams Sr.
“The overall view that I got from these letters: That he is a good and decent man, has done a lot of good during his time in the public arena,” Spencer said.
Spencer, who has a Master of Divinity degree from Howard University, seemed receptive to religious appeals from McDonnell and his supporters.
Spencer appeared especially impressed by a letter from Janet Kelly, who served in McDonnell’s cabinet as secretary of the commonwealth, reports the Washington Post. Kelly’s letter stressed that McDonnell, as governor, was working 18 to 20 hours a day, so he did not have “the luxury of pre-meditation of intentionally thinking through much of anything related to his personal life.”
Kelly also wrote that even after 38 years of marriage, McDonnell “has a deep-seated inability to adequately know how to handle his wife’s behavior.”
Spencer also appeared to reward McDonnell for his 15 years of active military service. The judge, who served as an Army captain for three years, said he had “great respect” for veterans, adding, “Anybody who knows me knows that’s one of my weak spots.”
Despite their efforts, many of McDonnell’s supporters were left in tears on Tuesday. McDonnell’s daughter has blamed her mother for her father’s legal woes, as reported earlier in the Inquisitr.
McDonnell’s legal team will appeal his sentencing.
[Image via CBS News]