McDonnell must report to prison on Feb. 9.
Prosecutors had demanded that McDonnell be sentenced to at least ten years behind bars.
But U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer determined that McDonnell, 60, did not obstruct justice during trial testimony, adding that much of the testimony was his “subjective view.” The potential sentence was reduced earlier Tuesday to six and a half to eight years
The judge received almost 450 letters attesting to McDonnell's integrity and asking for mercy before sentencing.
"I stand before you a heartbroken and humbled man," McDonnell said in court.
In a hearing last September, a federal jury convicted the former governor of 11 corruption-related counts and found his wife Maureen McDonnell guilty of eight corruption counts in addition to obstruction of justice.
Although McDonnell was acquitted of lying on loan documents, and the first lady was acquitted of falsifying bank records, the panel believed the couple had sold the office once occupied by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson to a Richmond businessman for golf outings, lavish vacations and $120,000 in sweetheart loans, reports the Washington Post.
After listening to testimony from 67 witnesses, the jury determined the couple was also formulating a scheme to get rich by abusing the prestige of the governor’s status, wherein Mrs. McDonnell accepted expensive shopping trips and vacations for her and her family from Star Scientific Inc. CEO and founder Jonnie R. Williams Sr., in exchange for promoting a nutritional supplement he was trying to sell.
While the McDonnells’ marriage dissolved amid allegations about the lavish lifestyle supplied by Williams, Mrs. McDonnell’s defense attorneys denied such claims, stressing “she was a woman in a broken marriage who craved attention.”
Photos of McDonnell flashing a Rolex watch and riding in a Ferrari, mortgage applications and telephone records were presented in court to convince jurors that the governor and his wife conspired to take around $177,000 from Williams in bribes.
Acts of bribery also included meetings McDonnell arranged for Williams with state officials, a luncheon Williams was allowed to throw at the governor’s mansion to help launch a product, and a guest list Williams was allowed to shape at another mansion reception meant for health-care leaders.
This verdict makes Robert McDonnell the first of Virginia’s governors to be convicted of a crime. He and his wife face decades in federal prison.
Defense attorney Henry “Hank” Asbill assured reporters that the former governor would appeal. “I’m obviously very disappointed,” he said.
Maureen McDonnell’s attorney William Burck also said that the former first lady, too, would appeal.
In December, the governor’s attorneys requested that McDonnell not serve any prison time, completing instead 6,000 community service hours as punishment.
In a court filing that pronounced him politically “dead” and claiming that his marriage had “fallen apart,” they urged U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer to consider sending McDonnell to tutor students in Haiti or help manage a food distribution facility in rural Bristol, Va.
Maureen McDonnell’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20.