Judge denies Virginia ex-governor's bid for bond pending appeal

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 13, 2015 12:08 PM

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday rejected former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell's request to remain free on bond pending his appeal of a two-year prison term for corruption convictions.

McDonnell, 60, is due to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Feb. 9. He was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer last week.

The former Republican governor, once mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate, was convicted in September of 11 charges.

McDonnell and his wife Maureen were found guilty of taking $177,000 in loans, gifts and luxury goods from businessman Jonnie Williams Sr. in exchange for promoting his diet supplement company's main product, the anti-inflammatory Anatabloc.

In their request for bond, McDonnell’s lawyers had argued that he was not a danger to society or a flight risk and that there were several issues that could result in a reversal of his convictions.

The main issue was a contention that the former governor never agreed to perform official acts in exchange for the loans and gifts that Williams gave him.

Spencer rejected the argument in his opinion, saying McDonnell performed “official acts" as defined in federal bribery laws.

"This is not a ‘close question’ that justifies release pending appeal,” Spencer wrote.

Maureen McDonnell was convicted on nine counts of corruption, but Spencer dismissed an obstruction of justice count in December. She is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 20.

(Reporting by Gary Robertson; Editing by Ian Simpson and Grant McCool)