"I respect the judge's decision," says Siegelman - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

"I respect the judge's decision," says Siegelman

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MONTGOMERY - AL -

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman will spend the next 69 months of his life in federal prison, beginning Sept. 11.

After Judge Mark Fuller passed the sentence, Friday, Siegelman told media outside the courthouse that he apologizes to the state of Alabama, his friends, family and the judge for the heartache that has been going on for the past decade.

"My family and I are strong and bonded," Siegelman said. "We will go home tonight and hold hands, say a prayer and be even closer."

Siegelman says had he known that his political career would have ended in this manner, he would have never accepted what he calls "campaign contributions" from former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Siegelman claims he did nothing illegal.

Siegelman's attorney, Susan James, says believe it or not, what happened Friday in court is a small victory.

"It's mixed feelings," she said. "We're grateful we had this day, had a chance to revisit the issue. We're grateful that the judge did modify the sentence, we're grateful that he's allowing Gov. Siegelman to go home and get his affairs in order before he reports to prison."

Before Judge Fuller slammed the gavel down to adjourn the court, he told Siegelman "It's been a long road, Gov. Siegelman. Good luck to you, sir."

Siegelman is restricted to the Northern and Southern districts of the state and must report back to authorities Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.

He also has to pay $500,000 in fines.