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Former Va. first lady Maureen McDonnell sentenced to prison on corruption charges

By Amy R. Connolly
Former Va. first lady Maureen McDonnell sentenced to prison on corruption charges
Maureen McDonnell, the wife of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, was sentenced to one year and one day for her role in a corruption scandal. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Virginia's former first lady Maureen McDonnell was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for her role in a corruption scandal that also ended her husband's political career.

In September, McDonnell and her husband, Republican former Gov. Bob McDonnell, were convicted of taking some $165,000 in loans, gifts and vacations from a vitamin entrepreneur in exchange for favors.

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U.S. District Judge James Spencer told McDonnell she had "a downward spiral in sync with the governor's rise in politics." He also ordered two years supervised probation following her prison time. She will be free on bond pending appeal. Spencer called the situation "tragic, sad and puzzling."

In early January, Robert McDonnell was sentenced to two years in federal prison. He is free on bond pending appeal.

Prosecutors said the couple accepted gifts, including a Rolex watch, from Jonnie Williams, a family friend and previous CEO of Star Scientific, Inc. In exchange, they promoted Star Scientific's products.

At her sentencing hearing, McDonnell thanked the judge for "showing mercy" to her husband.

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"It's hard to imagine anything worse than what I've already been through," she said.

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