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Conviction upheld: Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell loses legal battle to stay out of prison

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Bob McDonnell's conviction on corruption charges was upheld by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. McDonnell can now appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Barring a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court or the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, McDonnell would likely be ordered to report to federal prison later this year.

"I am greatly disappointed with the Court’s decision today. During my nearly 40 years of public service, I have never violated my oath of office nor disregarded the law. I remain highly confident in the justice system and the grace of our God that full vindication will come in time. I remain very blessed to have the unwavering support of my family and great friends which continues to sustain me," McDonell said in a statement.

"We are disappointed with the Court’s decision affirming Governor McDonnell’s convictions," McDonnell's legal team added. "We will review the opinion carefully and continue to pursue all legal options. The fight for justice for our client is far from over."

“We are pleased with today’s ruling affirming the conviction of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell," U.S. Attorney Dana Boente wrote in a statement. "I would like to thank the appellate team for their efforts on this very challenging case... I would also like to thank special agents with the FBI’s Richmond Division, the Virginia State Police, and IRS-Criminal Investigations for their hard work and commitment to this case.”

The Appeal

During his appeal hearing in May, McDonnell’s legal team and government prosecutors spent 30 minutes presenting arguments to a panel of three judges. The panel also challenged each side’s arguments throughout the hearing. Both sides entered hundreds of pages of legal briefs to the appeals court. One of the main disputes raised by both parties in the briefs was over what constitutes an “official act” by a politician and how the court defined that term to jury members during McDonnell’s trial last year.

McDonnell’s lawyers argued their client never promised anything tangible to political donor Jonnie Williams in exchange for the gifts and loans he gave the McDonnell family. Therefore, they argued, McDonnell never gave Williams any special treatment. Government prosecutors disagree with that argument. They countered Governor McDonnell never denied accepting gifts from Williams and the jury obviously saw a corrupt “quid pro quo” since they convicted McDonnell of the majority of the corruption charges he faced.

In January, Bob McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison after he was convicted on 11 counts of public corruption.

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