A judge for the 331st Criminal District Court [official website] of Texas sentenced former US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) [JURIST news archive] to three years in prison and ten years of probation Monday following DeLay's November conviction [JURIST report] on money laundering and conspiracy charges. Judge Pat Priest sentenced DeLay to prison [WP report] on the conspiracy charge and gave DeLay probation in lieu of a five-year prison sentence for money laundering. The charges stemmed from $190,000 donated by corporate interests to DeLay's political action committee (PAC) during the 2002 midterm election, which was allegedly funneled through the Republican National Committee (RNC) [party website] for use in state elections. The RNC then distributed the money to seven legislative candidates at DeLay's direction in order to circumvent a state election law [Tex. Elec. Code § 253.094] forbidding corporate contributions to political campaigns, according to prosecutors. DeLay, who denies wrongdoing and claims his prosecution was politically motivated, secured his release by posting a $10,000 bond and plans to appeal [Austin American-Statesman report] his conviction.
In August, DeLay's lawyer confirmed that a US Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal probe into DeLay's association with lobbyist Jack Abramoff [JURIST news archive] had been dismissed without charges being filed [JURIST report]. The investigation lasted six years and included grand jury testimony from former aides as well as a review of more than 1,000 documents and e-mails from DeLay's office. In August 2008, a Texas appeals court allowed the money laundering indictment [JURIST report] against DeLay's associates to stand. In 2007, a Texas appeals court ruled against reinstating a charge of conspiracy to violate the state's election law against DeLay and his two associates. After he was indicted, DeLay stepped down as House majority leader and later resigned from Congress [JURIST reports].