Rob McCord, the disgraced former Pennsylvania treasurer who became a wire-wearing FBI informant, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for his involvement in an expansive pay-to-play political scandal that resulted in the downfall of several state officials.
McCord, treasurer from 2009 to 2015, pleaded guilty in February 2016 to extortion charges related to his attempts to secure campaign money for his failed 2014 gubernatorial bid. By entering into a plea deal with the government—which involved wearing a wire in order to catch other corrupt politicians targeted in a sweeping FBI probe—McCord sought to improve his situation.
However, things went differently than expected when McCord, 59, apparently contradicted his agreement to cooperate with authorities when he testified during Chester County businessman Richard Ireland’s bribery trial that, at the time of Ireland’s alleged illegal campaign contributions in 2008, he did not believe he and Ireland were engaged in a bribery conspiracy.
According to media reports, prosecutors, seeking a 37- to 46-month prison term for McCord, argued at Tuesday’s hearing that he ”minimized” his own “corrupt action” during his testimony at Ireland’s trial.
McCord’s lawyer, Robert Welsh, maintains that his client upheld his plea agreement.
Ireland was indicted in July 2016 for allegedly making $500,000 in “secret campaign contributions” to McCord in 2008. Prosecutors alleged that Ireland promised to put McCord on his “payroll” in exchange for McCord’s decision to invest millions in state money into businesses affiliated with Ireland. Prosecutors claimed that Ireland and those businesses made $10 million over the seven-year course of the alleged scheme.
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III of the Middle District of Pennsylvania—who is also handling McCord’s case—made the rare move of granting Ireland’s acquittal request, calling McCord’s testimony “clearly deficient” and finding that “a reasonable jury could not find beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of an explicit quid pro quo relative to Mr. Ireland’s campaign contributions to Mr. McCord,” according to a court transcript.
On Tuesday, in addition to the 30-month prison term, Jones sentenced McCord to one year of supervised release and was ordered to pay a $5,200 fine.
Reached Tuesday, Welsh said Jones seemed to take into account the “dichotomy of McCord’s character” when fashioning the sentence.
“I think the judge was very impressed with his remorse and his dedication to service,” Welsh said, adding that the sentence was “not what I hoped for but less than it could have been.”
David Freed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said Tuesday that McCord’s actions directly impacted the citizens of Pennsylvania.
“McCord’s official actions to benefit his friends and punish his foes compromised the integrity of the Treasury and directly damaged the citizens of Pennsylvania. Although public corruption investigations are lengthy, difficult and complex, they have been and will remain a priority of our office,” Freed said. “Our oaths demand it and the public deserves it. I commend the outstanding work of the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigations and the Pennsylvania State Police and thank them for their continued commitment to rooting out corruption in Pennsylvania.”