The sentencing hearing for convicted ex-first lady of Virginia Maureen McDonnell was scheduled for Friday. The woman was convicted of accepting bribes during her husband's term in office. Federal prosecutors want the woman to spend 18 months in prison, but her defense attorneys are seeking community service in lieu of a prison sentence.
Ex-governor of Virginia Robert McDonnell was also convicted of bribery crimes along with his currently estranged wife. During his term of office he accepted $177,000 in expensive gifts and loans from a business entrepreneur. In exchange for the gifts and loans, the governor promoted an anti-inflammatory supplement that the entrepreneur was selling.
Defense Counsel Arguing for Community Service
During the ex-first lady's court proceedings, prosecutors argued that a prison term of 18 months would be sufficient deterrent to ensure that she does not illegally influence an elected official ever again. Prosecutors also argued that punishing the woman with time in prison will prevent others in similar positions from breaking the law.
Nevertheless, Maureen McDonnell's defense attorneys argued that the ex-first lady has suffered enough after she endured a difficult trial where people accused her of being driven by greed and said that she was unstable. The defense has asked that the woman be permitted to receive a community service sentence of 4,000 hours. Alternatively, if she is sentenced to prison, they want it to be nine months divided between jail and home confinement.
Governor Already Received 2 Year Sentence
The woman's husband, Robert McDonnell, was already sentenced and will serve two years in prison rather than a maximum of 12 years that prosecutors originally wanted. However, the ex-governor has yet to begin his jail sentence and is currently appealing the matter.
The gifts that the first couple received included a Rolex watch, golf outings and other presents. They also received a $15,000 gift of cash and a $50,000 personal loan. A $70,000 loan was also provided to a business owned by the former governor and his sister.
During criminal defense proceedings, even if a conviction is likely to occur, much can be done to argue for a reduced punishment and/or reduced jail sentence. For example, in the case of the convicted ex-governor, his defense attorneys are currently appealing his two-year jail sentence to get it reduced. Similarly, in the case of the ex-first lady, her defense attorneys may appeal her sentencing, if they feel that it is inappropriately harsh for her crimes.
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