- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell won’t remain free while he appeals his corruption convictions, which means he could begin his two-year prison sentence by Feb. 9, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

McDonnell’s attorneys argued that the appeal could take almost as long as the sentence itself. They also said the appeal would raise substantial questions, including whether the government’s interpretation of an “official act” is correct.

U.S. District Judge James Spencer said it’s not a “close question” that justifies release pending appeal. He also noted that he previously concluded that “substantial evidence supports the jury’s finding of a quid and fairly specific, related quo.” He dismissed arguments raising concerns over the jury selection process and deliberations.

Prosecutors had opposed the bail request.

McDonnell’s attorney, John Brownlee, expressed disappointment with the court’s decision and said the legal team will ask the appeals court to review it.

Last year, a jury found McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of illegally accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from wealthy vitamin entrepreneur Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his products.

A notice to appeal Bob McDonnell’s conviction was filed Tuesday.

Prosecutors originally sought a sentence of more than 10 years for Bob McDonnell, whose lawyers recommended three years of community service. Bob McDonnell’s sentence was much lighter than what prosecutors wanted and likely foreshadows similar treatment for Maureen McDonnell when she is sentenced next month for her role in the bribery scandal, legal experts say.

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Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum

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