The federal agency that will play a pivotal role in guiding the sentence of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell has recommended that the onetime Republican rising star spend at least 10 years and a month in prison, according to several people familiar with the matter.
The guidelines recommended by the U.S. probation office are preliminary, and even if finalized, U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer is not required to follow them. But experts said that Spencer typically heeds the probation office’s advice, and judges in his district have imposed sentences within the recommendations more than 70 percent of the time in recent years.
“It’s of critical importance,” said Scott Fredericksen, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. “The fact is, the vast majority of times, courts follow those recommendations closely.”
The matter is far from settled. The probation office recommended a punishment from 10 years and a month to 12 years and 7 months. Calculating an appropriate range of sentences in the federal system is a complicated, mathematical process that takes into account a variety of factors, including the type of crime, the defendant’s role and the amount of loss. The judge has yet to see the arguments from each side.
This sentencing threat is overkill. The stark reminder is that McDonnell broke no Virginia laws. I will be outraged if he receives a 10 year sentence.
Her decision will not be popular. UVA President Teresa Sullivan has banned fraternities and sororities at UVA until Jan. 9. No one is quite sure what “Ban” means at this point. For now, all we can do is speculate. Since students live in fraternities and sororities, it would be fairly difficult to re-house all of them. However, Sullivan can and should shut down all social activities until January 9.
RICHMOND — More than half of Virginians believe former governor Robert F. McDonnell should go to prison after a jury found him guilty of 11 counts of public corruption, according to a poll released Monday.
The poll, sponsored by the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, found 60 percent of adults said McDonnell (R) should be sentenced to prison time, while 28 percent say he should not and 12 percent weren’t sure or wouldn’t answer.
Are we just blood-thirsty? I think I would vote for long probation rather than prison. Prison is a waste of money because it is expensive. Neither McDonnell is a danger to society. Probation and community service (thousands of hours) helps Virginia. Prison costs Virginians and if federal prison, the rest of the country.
Is prison to punish or is it to remove those who are deemed dangerous from society?
For the record:
75 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of independents and 57 percent of Republicans want to see McDonnell go to prison.
The Supreme Court has refused to hear the challenges to same-sex marriages in 5 states, making it legal for gays in Virginia to marry.
The Supreme Court on Monday decided not to review rulings that cleared the way for same-sex marriage in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin, a surprising decision that shows the court is comfortable with the expansion of such unions throughout the nation.
The court’s decision came without explanation and puts off a decision about the constitutionality of gay marriage that would apply to all 50 states. But it sent a clear signal that a majority of the court did not feel the need to overturn lower court decisions that found state prohibitions were unconstitutional. According to a spokesman for Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring (D), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit will issue an order at 1 p.m. that will allow same-sex marriages to begin. At the same time, the commonwealth will recognize marriages performed in states where they already are legal.
The McDonnell trial is over. They were both found guilty on a majority of the counts. Both could easily go to prison. But is prison the best placement for the McDonnells?
I have gone soft. I admit it. However, let’s review a few points. The McDonnells did not break any Virginia laws. Secondly, I am not sure quid pro quo was clearly established.
For certain the McDonnells were greed, stupid and unethical. However, there really aren’t laws against those negative behaviors. Yes, they should have known better and clearly he can’t pile it all on his somewhat silly adolescent-like almost senior citizen wife.
We do have to ask ourselves though, is prison the smartest place for either of them? They just don’t seem like prison material to me. We also need to dispel the myths that there are “country-club” prisons. There really is no such thing. Even federal prisons are filled with dangerous gangsters and drug dealers, for heaven’s sake.
Prisons cost money. Prison is a billion dollar industry as it is. Why add to the burden with people who have already been broken. How about 1500 hours of community service in a community health center for the poor? I would even like to see teaching English in some school in the low rent district in Richmond for a year–something that humbles, not destroys. (although there are probably people out there who might disagree about destroys.)
I don’t want to see the McDonnells go to prison. I want to see Virginia make some laws that deal with ethics and how people are supposed to act while in public office. Being elected to public office is not a free pass of entitlement. Virginia lawmakers need to learn this lesson fast.
Disclaimer: I did not like 95% of Governor McDonnell’s decision while he was in office. I am certainly not a fan. I just don’t feel they should go to prison.
From the Washington Post:
IN THE end, it didn’t take long. After months of legal wrangling and public spinning; after five weeks of courtroom testimony; after two hours of a judge’s instructions in the legal niceties of the case, the jury in Robert F. and Maureen McDonnell’s trial knew public corruption when it saw it. Scarcely 48 hours after they got the case, the jurors rendered their verdict with no minced words: The McDonnells are guilty.
Until today, too many politicians in Richmond had convinced themselves of the commonwealth’s alleged exceptionalism — the supposed civility and ethical uprightness of the so-called Virginia Way. Convinced of its own abiding rectitude, Virginia’s political class has refused to enact laws with teeth to hold elected officials to decent standards of conduct in carrying out the people’s business. At the least, the McDonnell verdict should disabuse the old boys of their smug self-righteousness and their conviction that the state’s egregious absence of laws on public ethics is somehow all right. At the very least, it should end, once and for all, the common, cosseted view that legislation will not eradicate moral obtuseness. Of course it won’t; but a vacuum of laws will only encourage it.
But the perfectly legal, unlimited-cash culture that has long pervaded Virginia campaign giving has been on display right alongside McDonnell and his wife, Maureen — and it has renewed the question of whether that culture is broken and needs a fix.
Although it enjoyed a reputation for clean government, Virginia had some of the loosest ethics rules in the nation before the McDonnell scandal prompted reforms by the General Assembly this year. Even now, elected officials can accept campaign contributions of any size and unlimited “intangible gifts,” such as vacations and meals.
Some legislators expect the closely watched trial to inspire even tougher standards. Others say the case seems too extraordinary to form the basis for broad policy.
“I don’t think you can write a law that can cure what’s going on in the McDonnell trial,” said state Sen. William M. Stanley Jr. (R-Franklin), expressing a common sentiment among state politicians who point to trial evidence of Maureen McDonnell’s possible mental illness and infatuation with Williams as unique circumstances to this case.
But there’s one thing the case has exposed: how subjective and mutable the rules are for who can give and how much.
For example, the legislature capped gifts at $250 this year. But gifts from “personal friends” remain unlimited. In 2013, McDonnell described Williams as a personal friend.
It doesn’t seem that Virginia really has any ethics rules. What seems even more amazing is the fact that Virginia lawmakers didn’t race in to shore up their loose-knit, obviously problematic non-ethical standards. It appears that current legislators wanted to keep the status quo of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”