McDonnell family hopes former governor is out in 20 months

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jan 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-07 20:02:36-05

RICHMOND, VA -- "We expected the worst."

That is how former Governor Bob McDonnell's sister Maureen said the family prepared going into Tuesday's sentencing.

McDonnell was sentenced to 24 months in prison and an additional two years probation for what the judge, in the end, estimated to be at least $97,000 worth of gifts and loans the family accepted from businessmen Jonnie Williams.

Maureen McDonnell said the family was "grateful" for Judge James Spencer's sentence. Going into court McDonnell did not know if the prosecution's original request that he be sentenced to ten years or more in prison would be granted. He also did not know if he would have to go into custody that same day.

Instead, McDonnell was told to report by 2 p.m. on February 9. Lawyers have requested he serve his time at a facility in Petersburg.

"Bob's first grandchild will be born on Monday, and to be close to family where we can drive to visit is just imperative," his sister Maureen McDonnell said.

Since the sentence, McDonnell's sister says her brother has been spending time at the rectory at St. Patrick's Church in Church Hill.

"We had some very close friends and immediate family at the rectory," Maureen McDonnell said.

Maureen said her brother is catching up on sleep, preparing for his appeal, and preparing to be a grandfather.

"It is all about him just relaxing and spending time with kids."

McDonnell is still hopeful to avoid jail time all together with a motion filed in federal court to be out on bail pending appeal.

Maureen McDonnell said an intent to appeal will be filed as soon as the paperwork is processed and allowed at the appellate court in Richmond.

McDonnell said the family is also hopeful her brother will be allowed out of prison after "around twenty months" on good behavior. In the federal system, at least 85 percent of the sentence must be served. Under that calculation McDonnell could be out before the 2016 presidential election.

But not everyone is pleased with the McDonnell sentence.

Robin Trujillo, who was a juror in the case, said she was very disappointed the former governor did not spend more time behind bars.

"What's the point of six long weeks and eight hours a day?" Trujillo asked.

"To me it doesn't send the right message."