Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife could be facing lengthy federal prison terms if they are convicted of some of the felonies with which they are accused in today’s indictment. The crime of making false statements on a loan application to a federal credit union carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000. Some of the other allegations, such as wire fraud, carry lesser penalties.
The best yardstick may well be former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who is serving a fourteen-year term in federal prison for his attempt to sell the Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama in 2008. Blagojevich’s sentence was seen by some as unusually harsh, especially after the jury failed to convict him on all but one charge in his first trial, but courts are sometimes tempted to punish political leaders more.