Appeals court upholds Va. lawmaker Phillip Hamilton's convictions

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Local,Virginia,Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A federal appeals court has upheld a former Virginia legislator's bribery and extortion convictions.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled against Phillip A. Hamilton of Newport News on Thursday.

Hamilton was sentenced to more than nine years in prison after becoming the first state lawmaker convicted of public corruption. The Republican was vice chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee in 2007 when he secured $500,000 in taxpayer money to fund a teacher training center at Old Dominion University while negotiating a job as its director.

The appeals court rejected Hamilton's claim that email exchanges with his wife should not have been allowed into evidence because they were protected by a legal doctrine known as "marital privilege."

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