|Tom DeLay denied any wrongdoing saying the Democrats had trumped up the charges [GALLO/GETTY]
Tom DeLay, a Republican legislator, has been sentenced to a three-year prison term after a jury convicted him for money laundering and conspiracy.
Senior judge Pat Priest sentenced DeLay, the former majority leader in the House of Representatives, to five years for money laundering and three years for conspiracy in a scheme for a political campaign.
"Before there were Republicans and Democrats there were Americans," said the judge, adding that America is "about the rule of law".
"Judge, I can't be remorseful for something I don't think I did. I fought the fight, ran the race and kept the faith"
Tom DeLay, former House majority leader
Priest, in handing down the sentence on Monday, allowed DeLay to serve 10 years probation in lieu of the five-year term, but ordered him to serve the three-year term with no probation.
The ruling was issued after a brief sentencing hearing in which Dennis Hastert, the former US House Speaker, testified on DeLay's behalf.
DeLay was immediately taken into custody, but the judge granted a request from his lawyers that he be released on a $10,000 bond, pending appeal once he is processed at the county jail.
Dick DeGuerin, DeLay's lawyer, said he plans to appeal the conviction and the sentence, adding: "This will not stand".
DeLay was found guilty on November 24 of conspiring to illegally funnel $190,000 in corporate campaign donations to Republican candidates for the Texas legislature in 2002 elections.
"Judge, I can't be remorseful for something I don't think I did," DeLay said at the hearing before the sentencing. "I fought the fight, ran the race and kept the faith."
DeLay, a former Houston-area congressman, said the campaign contributions were legal and that the charges were trumped up by Democrats.
Prosecutors said DeLay's sentence was appropriate.
"Corporate contributions are illegal in Texas, and you can't give them to candidates directly and you can't give them to candidates indirectly," said Rosemary Lehmberg, the Travis County district attorney.
DeLay, a former owner of a pest control company, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1984 and rose eventually to the position of deputy speaker, earning a reputation as a master vote-counter and prolific fundraiser.
In 1994, he was part of a "Republican Revolution" that won control of the House for the first time in 40 years.
DeLay resigned from the House in 2006 after links to Jack Abramoff, a former Republican lobbyist snared in a federal investigation of influence peddling on Capitol Hill, became public.
Two of DeLay's ex-aides pleaded guilty to corruption. Delay denied any wrongdoing.