Tom DeLay Sentenced To Prison

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) has been sentenced to three years in prison, the AP and the Austin-American Statesman are reporting.

Texas Judge Pat Priest handed down the sentence this afternoon in an Austin courtroom.

DeLay was convicted in November on money laundering and conspiracy charges. His lawyers asked for the minimum sentence, probation. Prosecutors asked for at least 10 years in prison.According to the Statesman, Priest sentenced DeLay to three years on the conspiracy charge. He was sentenced to 10 years probation on the straight money laundering charge, allowing him to avoid another five years in prison, according to the AP.

He is expected to appeal. Although DeLay has been taken into custody, Priest set bond at $10,000, meaning DeLay will likely be a free man until his appeal is complete.

The charges stem from the 2002 Texas state house elections, when DeLay’s state PAC collected $190,000 in corporate donations and sent the money to the Republican National Committee. The RNC then sent a total of $190,000 to seven Republican state house candidates hand-picked by DeLay’s PAC.

Under Texas law, it is illegal for candidates to use corporate money — raised directly or indirectly — for their campaigns.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: DeLay On ‘Dancing With The Stars’]

The money helped Republicans take the state house, which led to a pro-Republican redistricting plan orchestrated by DeLay, which sent more Texan GOP-ers to the U.S. House.

At the sentencing hearing, DeLay addressed the court for the first time. He was unrepentant, saying he had done nothing wrong, and argued that a long sentence would be a dangerous criminalization of politics.

His lawyers had former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R) testify on his behalf, and submitted dozens of letters to the court from friends including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Justice Department, which was investigating DeLay and his ties to lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff, cleared him of potential federal charges in August.

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