RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Former Governor Bob McDonnell is scheduled to be sentenced today on 11 counts of public corruption. Never before has a Virginia governor been convicted for crimes committed while in office. Federal Prosecutors are asking Judge James Spencer to sentence McDonnell to prison time. However, defense lawyers are asking the judge to let McDonnell serve 6,000 hours of community service with no jail time.
McDonnell’s sentencing begins at 10 a.m. in Richmond.
3:30 p.m. – Former Governor Bob McDonnell and his legal team joined the media outside the federal courthouse in Richmond. McDonnell thanked his supporters.
3 p.m. – Bob McDonnell must turn himself in by 2 p.m. on Feb. 9. He can chose to appeal the 24-month sentence.
2:45 p.m. – Former Governor Bob McDonnell received two-year prison sentence from Judge James Spencer. The judge earlier in the day decided a six-and-a-half to eight year sentence would be fair by sentencing guidelines, however, at sentencing, Spencer said that sentence would be both “unfair” and “ridiculous.”
2:10 p.m. – Prosecutors say “you can’t help but be touched” by the 440 letters of support, but say that does not make McDonnell’s convictions right. They say the former governor took “bribes” and let down 8.3 million Virginians. Prosecutors argue that “trust is the bedrock of a democracy,” and McDonnell violated that trust.
1:55 p.m. – Bob McDonnell’s defense just wrapped up. They read excerpts from the 440 letters of support that were submitted to the judge. The letters come from a wide range of people, from childhood friends to politicians, and are all calling for leniency. They are asking the judge to give McDonnell no jail time and punish the former governor with 6,000 hours of community service. In the letters, McDonnell’s supports call him “genuine,” “kind” and a “dedicated public servant”.
1:30 p.m. – When asked about his observations about Bob McDonnell during the trial and leading up to today’s sentencing, Wilder tells the court, “This has been eating at him. He’s like that mythical creature that has part of his liver eaten everyday … then what’s left? But he was still above the fray, kept functioning … he was an excellent state senator, a very strong attorney general and he always reached across the aisle … He would have been on a short list to be the president … he has been hurt and damaged. He could serve 50 years … you can’t take anything more from him.”
1:25 p.m. – Former Governor Doug Wilder is still on the stand. Prosecutors ask Wilder if it’s appropriate for a public official to accept a bribe, Wilder responds, “No, but you have to look at the person who started the bribe. He walked free.” Wilder is referencing Jonnie Williams, who was granted full immunity in exchange for testifying against McDonnell. The courtroom, as well as the overflow viewing room, applauded in support of Wilder’s comments.
1:15 p.m. – The defense called former Governor Doug Wilder to the stand in support of Bob McDonnell. Wilder served as governor from 1990-94, and has also served as a state senator, lieutenant governor and the mayor of Richmond. Wilder says McDonnell served the public well throughout his career. Wilder, a democrat, had only positive words to say about McDonnell, a republican, while on the stand. “We became respective of each others philosophies,” says Wilder.
12:50 p.m. – Defense lawyers also called on Bob McDonnell’s sister, Nancy McDonnell, to testify in support of her brother. “It’s been an unbelievably terrible experience for my family,” says Nancy McDonnell. “My family is heartbroken, devastated, shocked and in disbelief.” Nancy says that since McDonnell has been convicted on 11 counts of public corruption he has suffered physically and emotionally. She says he, at times, has stopped eating, but says he manages to bounce back and stay positive. On the stand, Nancy tells the court that her brother is the least materialist person she has ever met and that “never in his life has he said something bad about another human being.” She says her brother “came to the job as governor to serve – to improve their lives, make their lives better, to see what their needs are and to address those needs.”
12:40 p.m. – Defense lawyers called Bill Howell, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, to the stand to testify in support of McDonnell. Howell says he has known Mr. McDonnell for 20 years and calls him a “very intense legislator.” Howell says that McDonnell “recognizes there’s some things that perhaps he should not have done”. Howell says that McDonnell has a lot to offer and said directly to Judge James Spencer “I would humbly request mercy … [McDonnell] can not accomplish his goals and offerings from a federal penitentiary”.
Howell also says he’s happy with ethics reform during the 2014 session and he expects there to be continued legislation in the 2015 session, which starts next week. He says new legislation is a direct result of the McDonnell conviction.
12:30 p.m. – Judge James Spencer calls a 15-minute recess after hearing testimony from eight supporters of McDonnell.
11 a.m. – Judge James Spencer just revised the sentencing guidelines from 10-12 years, down to an 6.5 to 8 year punishment for Bob McDonnell. The lesser sentence comes after Judge Spencer dismissed the obstruction charge and decreased the value of gifts received. When it comes to the gifts McDonnell received, the judge said they total at least $97,000, but no more than $121,000. The original number was $177,000. Prosecutors are focused on the shopping spree and Rolex watch, even though McDonnell denies knowing, they say it was reasonably foreseeable.
10 a.m. – Bob McDonnell arrives at federal court with his daughter Cailin Young.
9 a.m. – Andy Fox just spoke with State Sen. Jeff McWaters (R-Virginia Beach) outside federal court in Richmond. McWaters is a good friend of the former governor. McWaters says the McDonnell family, including Maureen, were all together last night for dinner. McWaters says McDonnell is “a man of faith, a man of great hope” and he’s “prayerful” McDonnell will receive 6,000 hours of community service as punishment for 11 counts of corruption.
8 a.m. – It’s still fairly quiet outside the federal courthouse in Richmond. A dozen media outlets from around Virginia have started to line up outside.
You can count on WAVY both online and on-air throughout the day for continued updates on the McDonnell sentencing.10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox, Erin Kelly and Joe Fisher are in Richmond.
You can follow our reporters on Twitter here: