McDonnell Sentencing: Ex-Virginia First Lady Gets One Year And A Day

Maureen McDonnell, the wife of former Governor Bob McDonnell, was sentenced Friday to 12 months and one day in federal prison after being convicted on corruption charges that also resulted in prison time for her husband.

Judge James R. Spencer also ordered two years of supervised probation and allowed the former VA first lady to remain free pending appeal, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

McDonnell’s sentencing comes after she and former VA Governor Bob McDonnell were convicted late last year of conspiring to sell the influence of the governor’s office to businessman Jonnie R. Williams, Sr. in exchange for $170,000 in loans, vacations and gifts. The gifts included approximately $20,000 in designer clothes and accessories and a $6,500 engraved Rolex watch she gave to her husband, all purchased by Williams during a Manhattan shopping spree.

In sentencing McDonnell, the judge called the case “tragic, sad and puzzling.” Judge Spencer spoke of a letter he received before sentencing that referred to the former first lady as both “the good Maureen” and “the other Maureen,” but unfortunately for her, the “other Maureen” was not the “construct of a misinformed media.”

Spencer also said the case had been downright bizarre, alluding to the fact the McDonnells had presented a “Let’s throw momma under the bus defense,” that at Bob McDonnell’s sentencing that morphed into “Let’s throw momma off the train.”

Attorneys for both the former governor and his wife argued that Maureen had a crush on Williams and had worked independently of her husband to seek the businessman’s attention rather than his money, arguing the McDonnell marriage was broken to the point it would be impossible for the couple to have conspired together. At the former governor’s sentencing hearing last month, however, Judge Spencer seemed to reject the idea that Maureen was more culpable than her husband for the pair’s misdeeds.

“While Mrs. McDonnell may have allowed the serpent into the mansion, the governor knowingly let him into his personal and business affairs.”

Defense attorneys for Maureen McDonnell had requested she be sentenced to 4,000 hours of community service and probation. Prosecutors could have asked for the same amount of prison time for Maureen that her husband received, but did not so after conceding the political official involved in a bribery case should face the more severe penalty.

Robert McDonnell is appealing his conviction and the former first lady is expected to follow suit.

[Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]