Prosecutors ask for 18-month sentence for former Virginia first lady

Maureen McConnell, former first lady of Virginia, will be sentenced Feb. 20 in corruption case

A month after former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison on public corruption charges, federal prosecutors asked a judge for an 18-month sentence for his wife and fellow participant in the scheme, Maureen McDonnell.

Prosecutors recommended 18 months because it would keep her sentence in line with her husband's. Under sentencing guidelines, he had been eligible for six and a half to eight years in prison. She is eligible for five to six years under those guidelines. (Prosecutors had originally hoped for a harsher sentence for Bob McDonnell -- 10 to 12 years.)

Maureen McDonnell is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 20.

"Because Mrs. McDonnell was a full participant in a bribery scheme that sold the governor's office in exchange for luxury goods and sweetheart loans, many of which she solicited personally, and because she repeatedly attempted to thwart the investigation through false representations, it would be unjust for her not to serve a period of incarceration for her crimes," prosecutors said in court documents.

Defense attorneys for Maureen McDonnell have asked for a sentence of probation with 4,000 hours of community service. They cited the fact that she was not a public official, that she did not want and was not ready for her role as first lady of Virginia and that she has already endured "devastating consequences" for her actions.

"Mrs. McDonnell has lived the worst nightmare of a public official's spouse: vilified in the media and blamed not only for ruining her husband's political career, but for sending him to prison. For any spouse of a public official, this is more than sufficient to give pause," defense attorneys said in court documents.

The McDonnells were convicted of accepting dozens of expensive gifts and loans from health supplement salesman Jonnie R. Williams, who, in exchange, wanted the governor to publicize and conduct government research on his products.

These gifts included a $25,000 in wedding presents for two of the McDonnells' daughters, and the use of a boat and Ferrari.

The former governor is free on bail pending an appeal.

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