RICHMOND, Va. – The judge who sentenced former Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell to prison for one year for corruption said Friday he struggled with the punishment and ultimately adopted the view of a couple who sent a letter of support describing "two Maureens."
The letter portrayed her as a loving mother and wife once known for kindness and grace who became a first lady who "belittled and terrorized employees" and threw tantrums when she didn't get her way, U.S. District Judge James Spencer said.
"Even with all the information I have, it's difficult to get to the heart of who Mrs. McDonnell is," Spencer said.
The former first lady and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell were convicted in September of accepting $165,000 in bribes from a businessman. He was sentenced last month to two years in prison. The couple are free on bond while they appeal.
It was a remarkable fall for the couple. Maureen McDonnell was a onetime Washington Redskins cheerleader who was known for her work with military families. Her father was a Marine and her husband was in the Army.
Bob McDonnell was a former state attorney general who became chairman of the Republican Governors Association and was once considered a possible Mitt Romney running mate.