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Former Virginia governor found guilty in influence-peddling case

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Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell (2nd R) leaves U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia with family members, including his son Bobby (R), after he was found guilty in his corruption trial. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(CNN) — A former rising star in the Republican Party, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was red-faced and sobbing Thursday after a jury convicted him and his wife on multiple counts related to influence-peddling while he was in office.

After more than a month of sometimes soul-baring testimony, the federal jury issued guilty verdicts on 11 counts against McDonnell, while clearing him on two others. His wife, Maureen, was convicted on nine while cleared on four.

The charges involved gifts the couple received from a businessman, including a Rolex watch, a $15,000 check for their daughter’s wedding and other items that are legal under Virginia law. Prosecutors had to prove such gifts were accepted with corrupt intent.

Courtroom tears

As the guilty verdicts came in, the former first couple wept openly in the Richmond courtroom.

McDonnell, whose name came up as a possible running mate to GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, now faces the likelihood of prison time.

Both McDonnells were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the citizens of Virginia, wire fraud, conspiracy and influence peddling. Mrs. McDonnell also was convicted on one count of obstruction.

The jury cleared them both of false statement charges, and cleared Mrs. McDonnell on one of the wire fraud counts and two of the influence peddling counts.

Judgment day

Sentencing was set for January 6.

“This is a difficult, disappointing day for the Commonwealth,” said U.S. Attorney Dana Boente, whose office led the prosecution. “When public officials turn to financial gain for official actions, we have little choice but to prosecute the case.”

Lawyers for the McDonnells indicated they intend to appeal.

While the charges carry potential sentences of years in prison, legal experts said they don’t expect the maximum penalties to be applied. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said he expected McDonnell to get about a year in prison, while his wife could get probation.

Jury deliberations began Tuesday and lasted more than 17 hours over three days in the case that had all the elements of a soap opera: a broken marriage, alleged influence peddling and courtroom drama.

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