The Justice Department on Thursday said the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on corruption charges should "send a message" to other elected officials.

"The former governor was elected to serve the people of Virginia, but his corrupt actions instead betrayed them," said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, who leads the criminal division of the Justice Department. 

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"Today’s convictions should send a message that corruption in any form, at any level of government, will not be tolerated," she added.

McDonnell was convicted on 11 counts, ranging from extortion to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit both. His wife, Maureen McDonnell, was convicted on nine similar charges, including obstruction of justice. 

McDonnell and his wife were indicted in January on 14 counts alleging that he improperly used his office to promote and legitimize the supplement company Star Scientific in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and loans from company's chief executive, Jonnie Williams. 

“Public corruption, particularly among our elected officials, is the FBI’s highest criminal investigative priority,” said FBI agent Adam Lee, who leads the Richmond division. “We will engage and engage vigorously when we receive credible allegations of any federal, state, or local public official illegally using the power of their position to receive a personal benefit."

After the ruling was handed down Thursday, the former governor said: "All I can say is my trust belongs in the Lord," according to reports.  

McDonnell left office in early January when his term expired. Before the indictment, he was often considered a contender for higher office and had served as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

However, the scandal followed McDonnell for much of his final year in Richmond. A little more than a week after leaving the governor's mansion, he was indicted.