Virginia ex-governor's conviction appeal denied by US court
Former Governor Robert McDonnell (Shutterstock)

A U.S. appeals court denied former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell's appeal of his 2014 corruption conviction on Tuesday, setting the stage for an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a brief opinion that no judge had voted for a rehearing of McDonnell's appeal of his 11 convictions.

A three-judge panel of the court in July had upheld McDonnell's conviction for taking $177,000 in gifts and loans from businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting one of his company’s dietary supplements.

U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer sentenced McDonnell, a one-time rising star in the Republican Party, to two years in prison. He has remained free pending the outcome of his appeal.

One of McDonnell’s attorneys, Henry Asbill, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper that McDonnell would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. McDonnell is the first Virginia governor to be convicted on criminal charges.

McDonnell’s wife Maureen was also convicted in connection with the bribery scheme. She has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison.

She also has remained free pending her appeal, which is scheduled to be heard in October.

McDonnell received more bad news last month when Virginia’s Democratic attorney general, Mark Herring, ruled that the former governor could be stripped of his state pension benefits. He had worked in public service for 28 years.

McDonnell himself had signed the law to take away the retirement benefits of former state employees who were convicted of felonies during the course of their duties.