RICHMOND, Va. — Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is likely headed to prison after a federal appeals court turned down his request to remain free while he appeals his federal corruption conviction to the Supreme Court.
"The “Motion to clarify order granting release pending appeal or, in the alternative, to stay the mandate pending resolution of a petition for certiorari” is DENIED. That is, the motion to clarify that our Order of January 26, 2015 will remain in force pending the disposition of a timely certiorari petition is DENIED," the 4th Circuit Court Court of Appeals order stated. "The alternative motion to stay the mandate is also DENIED. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 41(b), the mandate will issue seven days from the date of the entry of this Order."
According to lawyers, McDonnell could be forced to prison as early as Aug. 27. However, legal experts think a date in September is more likley unless the High Court intervenes.
McDonnell's attorneys have petitioned the Supreme Court to allow the former governor to remain free on bond.
"I am saddened by the Court's decision today to deny me freedom while I pursue vindication in the U.S. Supreme Court," McDonnell wrote in a statement released Thursday afternoon. "I am innocent of these charges and will petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a grant of bond. I ask my exceptional friends across the nation to continue to support and pray for me and my family during this agonizing time. I thank God for His abundant grace and strength as I continue this difficult journey."
Earlier this month, the 4th Circuit Court unanimously rejected's McDonnell's second request to consider an appeal.
McDonnell was found guilty of corruption charges and sentenced in January to two years in federal prison. Since then McDonnell has been trying to get his guilty verdicts thrown out.
As a result, McDonnell’s lawyer Henry Asbill said his team would appeal the conviction to the Supreme Court.
McDonnell's Final Appeal
However, legal experts have said the chances are slim the Supreme Court will hear the case.
Carl Tobias, a Supreme Court expert at the University of Richmond, says SCOTUS only hears a fraction of the cases that request a Supreme Court hearing. Four justices are needed to hear the case.
"We will see what the Supreme Court does,” said Tobias, who predicted McDonnell attorneys will ask the 4th Circuit as well as the Supreme Court for a stay in his sentence, allowing him to stay out of prison until the Supreme Court decides. Tobias also said it is likely the High Court would be interested in hearing the case, since questions surrounding what exactly is bribery have been brought up as a result.
“Less so because he was an ex governor, more so because of whether or not this was really bribery,” Tobias added. Tobias says in all likelihood McDonnell will receive a date within the next seven days to report to prison and start serving his 2 year sentence. That “report date” will likely be in September.
Former federal inmate Justin Paperny told WTVR CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George last week that McDonnell should mentally prepare for prison.
“If I were him, I would not be speaking negatively about his authority that tends to look a little arrogant,” Paperny says.
Paperny, who spent over a year in low security prison for security fraud and now runs a company called Etika which helps defendants prepare for life behind bars, said he should begin thinking about what jobs he will do in prison, he would advice McDonnell to go the teaching route.
“With his experience and background it should include teaching and tutoring,” Paperny said.
Paperny emphasizes that if McDonnell goes to the low security camp in Petersburg, which he has requested, it is still a prison and not a country club like some think. “I was a member of a Country Club before I went to prison and my country club did not have men defecating in the shower and they didn’t tell me when I had to go to bed,” Paperny said.
One of the main reasons McDonnell continues to fight for his innocence, other than believing he is not guilty, is his state pension. Under Virginia law, signed into law by McDonnell, a person cannot keep their state pension if convicted of a felony.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office released this statement earlier this month per spokesman Christina Nuckols.
“The Governor requested an opinion from the Attorney General’s office to ensure that legal requirements are met. Once the Governor received the opinion, he wrote the former governor to notify him of its conclusions and to inform him of the process for compliance.”
McDonnell Asked to Serve Sentence in Petersburg
McDonnell, who could serve his two-year sentence at one of several federal prisons located within a 500-mile radius of Richmond, requested in January to serve his time at FCI Petersburg in Hopewell. However, Judge James Spencer and the Federal Bureau of Prisons will ultimately decide the location.
If McDonnell does end up at FCI Petersburg, WTVR CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said he’ll most likely be placed in the adjacent minimum security satellite camp where 309 inmates live.
According to the prison’s 58-page orientation handbook, inmates are required to wear a green shirt and pants during the day, they can only have visitors on certain days, and they are required to work for the prison, doing jobs like cooking food or mowing grass.
Inmates there are also allowed to play a variety of sports, like tennis and bocce ball, and participate in activities like painting and crochet.