A federal appeals court upheld the conviction of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell on public corruption charges, ruling he received a fair trial.
McDonnell, who became the first of Virginia’s 72 governors to be convicted of a crime, could ask for a rehearing before the appeals court’s full panel of judges. He was sentenced in January to two years in prison after being found guilty, along with his wife, of so-called honest-services fraud.
McDonnell said he was disappointed with the court’s decision and maintained his innocence.
“During my nearly 40 years of public service, I have never violated my oath of office nor disregarded the law,” McDonnell said in an e-mailed statement. “I remain highly confident in the justice system and the grace of our God that full vindication will come in time.”
The politician, who was once seen as a potential Republican presidential contender in 2016, was accused of using his public office to help a company executive promote a supplement in exchange for gifts.
After a five-week trial, a jury found McDonnell guilty of 11 counts of corruption and not guilty of two counts of making a false statement. McDonnell appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to justify his conviction and that the court had erred in its instructions to the jury.
He’s been free pending the appeal.
His wife, Maureen, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. She has also appealed.
Dana Boente, the U.S. Attorney in Richmond, applauded the ruling in what he described as a “very challenging case.”
McDonnell failed to show that the government’s evidence was inadequate, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said in its ruling Friday.
The former governor “received a fair trial and was duly convicted by a jury of his fellow Virginians,” the court ruled. “We have no cause to undo what has been done.”
Lawyers for McDonnell said Friday that they would review the opinion carefully and “continue to pursue all legal options,” according to e-mailed statement.
The case is U.S. v. McDonnell, 15-4019, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Richmond).