Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay Gets 3 Years in Prison

The former U.S. House majority leader was convicted for his role in a money-laundering scheme.


BY Bill Hutchinson

"The Hammer" is going to the slammer.

Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was ordered Monday to serve three years in prison for conspiring to commit money laundering.

Judge Pat Priest ordered the sentence in Austin, Texas, after a jury convicted DeLay in November of his involvement in a scheme to funnel corporate money to Texas political candidates illegally in 2002. [Find out which industries donate to your member of Congress.]

DeLay, 63, was also convicted of money laundering, but Priest sentenced the one-time political power broker only on the conspiracy count. DeLay was given 10 years probation on the money-laundering conviction.

He had faced up to life in prison.

Once considered the most powerful and feared Republican in Congress, DeLay argued the charges against him stemmed from a political vendetta by his foes.

"This is an abuse of power. It's a miscarriage of justice, and I still maintain that I am innocent," DeLay told reporters following his conviction.

DeLay's attorneys are appealing his conviction.

DeLay served in the House of Representatives, representing Texas's 22nd congressional district, from 1984 until 2006.

He was elected House majority leader after the 2002 midterm elections. He earned the nickname "The Hammer" for enforcing party discipline and doling out retribution to those who did not go along with President George W. Bush's legislative agenda.