Former Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell could be sentenced to several years in prison Tuesday, months after he and his wife were convicted on public corruption charges.
McDonnell left court a stricken man after he and his wife, Maureen, were convicted in September on multiple charges involving accepting more than $165,000 in gifts, trips and loans from a wealthy businessman.
Bob McDonnell returned to court Tuesday for his sentencing hearing, which began with his lawyers successfully making their case for why sentencing guidelines issued by prosecutors were incorrectly calculated. Prosecutors have said a 10 to 12 year sentence is appropriate.
Tuesday, the judge ruled in favor of the defense, adjusting the sentencing guidelines down to six to eight years.
McDonnell's attorneys have also asked that he be allowed to perform extensive community service in lieu of prison time.
The judge is expected to hear from from witnesses before issuing a sentence Tuesday.
Fairfax County Del. Dave Albo (R), who considers McDonnell a close friend and mentor, wrote one of the 440 letters to the judge seeking leniency for the once-rising political star.
"I've never seen one of my friends get jail time, and I've never seen someone get jail time who honestly did not believe he did anything wrong," Albo said.
"...[He's] one of the most wonderful guys I know. I mean, I've met a lot of people in my 21 years in the House of Delegates," he said.
But Albo is a defense lawyer himself, and even he concedes that his friend will likely get prison time. He just hopes it's at the lower end of the scale.
"My best reasonable case scenario, the judge lowers it from 10 years to, say, five years, and lets him stay out on appeal," Albo said Monday. "That would be a huge victory tomorrow."
Former prosecutor Chuck James, now a white-collar defense attorney, also believes prison time for McDonnell is nearly inevitable.
"I would say the odds of him not spending a significant period of time in prison is very, very low indeed," he said.
Maureen McDonnell will be sentenced Feb. 20.