Former GOP leader guilty of laundering party funds
AUSTIN, Texas – Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay vowed Monday to fight a three-year prison sentence for money laundering, calling himself the victim of “malicious prosecution” by Democrats.
“I can’t be remorseful for something I don’t think I did,” DeLay said, standing before the Texas judge who sentenced him.
DeLay was led out of the courtroom by marshals and taken to the county jail, where he posted bond. He will remain free pending appeal of his conviction related to a 2002 scheme to illegally funnel corporate money into Texas political races.
The money helped Republicans take control of the Texas House and redraw congressional districts to enhance DeLay’s influence in Washington.
DeLay, once one of the nation’s most powerful political figures, was sentenced to three years in state prison and several more years of probation.
“Justice was served,” said Travis County Assistant District Attorney Gary Cobb, the lead prosecutor.
DeLay’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, predicted that the verdict would be overturned on appeal. “This will not stand,” he said.
The sentencing capped a daylong hearing in Travis County district court in which DeGuerin pleaded for lenient treatment, saying his client’s precipitous fall from the No. 2 job in Congress had left him “a man who is unemployed and is unemployable.”
DeLay was unrepentant as he addressed the judge before sentencing. He declared he had done nothing wrong and was being persecuted for his conservative views.
“They don’t agree with my politics,” he said.
Judge Pat Priest rejected DeLay’s claims of a partisan prosecution. He said the former Republican leader had abused the public trust.
“Before there were Republicans and Democrats there was America,” the judge said. “And what America is about is the rule of law.”
The judge imposed a three-year sentence on a conspiracy conviction. On a separate money-laundering charge, he sentenced DeLay to five years in prison, but that was probated for 10 years.
That means that if DeLay loses his appeals, he would serve three years in prison and seven years on probation.