Back in 2005, one of the most powerful men in U.S. politics was charged criminally for money laundering. Tom DeLay had been a big player in Congress when he was federally charged with illegally giving money to political candidates.
White collar crimes such as this are serious and can carry severe penalties, especially if being charged federally, if convicted. DeLay was convicted in late November for money laundering and is currently waiting for his sentencing hearing. A conviction for money laundering could result in a life sentence.
DeLay was originally arrested after it was believed that he used his political action committee to fund a political campaign with corporate money. In his state, it is illegal to directly fund campaigns that way. It is with that money that prosecutors believe that Republicans gained more political control.
Though he was convicted, DeLay maintains that he did nothing wrong. His attorney is presenting multiple witness testimony from supporters, some prominent political leaders, to ask the sentencing judge for a more lenient sentence.
DeLay is eligible for probation, which is what his attorneys will be asking for at the sentencing hearing. They reason that the crime DeLay committed did not hurt anyone and was not done maliciously; a lengthy prison sentence would do little to rehabilitate.
Two other men whom prosecutors believed were a part of the money exchange were also charged and are awaiting trial at a future time.
DeLay is no longer in politics after he was criminal charged with money laundering. He had also been investigated for his connection with a lobbyist's laundering and conspiracy scheme, though no charges were pressed.
Source: The Associated Press online, "Sentencing hearing to begin in Tom DeLay trial," 10 January 2011