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story.lead_photo.caption In this Jan. 7, 2006 file photo, Rep. Tom DeLay speaks during a news conference after announcing his decision to abandon his bid to remain as House majority leader in Sugar Land, Texas. - Photo by AP / David J. Phillip

A judge has ordered U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to serve three years in prison for his role in a scheme to illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002.

The sentence comes after a jury in November convicted DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. DeLay was once one of the most powerful men in U.S. politics, ascending to the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives.

The former Houston-area congressman had faced up to life in prison. His attorneys asked for probation.

Senior Judge Pat Priest issued his ruling after a brief sentencing hearing on Monday in which former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert testified on DeLay’s behalf.

Priest declined to hear testimony from the state’s only witness.

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