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Former Gov. Bob McDonnell's corruption convictions upheld in appeals court

Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell (2nd L) arrives at U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia with his daughter Cailin Young (3rd L) and his son-in-law Chris Young (L) for his corruption trial sentencing January 6, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.

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RICHMOND, Va. -- A federal appeals court upheld former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's public corruption convictions Friday.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was unanimous.

"Appellant received a fair trial and was duly convicted by a jury of his fellow Virginians," Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote in the 89-page opinion. "We have no cause to undo what has been done."

A jury in September found McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of doing favors for former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans. Williams was seeking state-backed research for his company's nutritional supplements.

The former governor, once widely considered a possible running mate to former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was sentenced in January to two years in prison. His wife was sentenced in February to one year and one day in prison. Both are free on bond while they pursue appeals.

McDonnell could appeal the panel's ruling to the full appeals court or to the U.S. Supreme Court. His attorneys declined to comment, saying they were working on a statement.

The appeals court has not yet scheduled oral arguments in Maureen McDonnell's case.

McDonnell claimed in his appeal that his convictions on 11 counts were based on an overly broad definition of what amounts to an "official act" under federal bribery law. His lawyers argued that McDonnell provided only routine "ingratiation and access" that courts have upheld as legal.

Federal prosecutors described the case as one of clear-cut bribery.