A tearful Anthony Weiner was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl, a sentence prosecutors had sought to end the "tragic cycle" of sexting that not only destroyed his congressional career, but doomed his mayoral aspirations and his marriage.
The 53-year-old Democrat, dressed in a blue suit and wearing his wedding ring, dropped his head into his hand and wept as Judge Denise Cote handed down his sentence. Minutes earlier, he had pleaded with her to spare him prison time, fighting back tears as he read from a written statement on a page he held in front of him in Manhattan federal court.
He said he was "a very sick man for a very long time" and called his crime his "rock bottom." Weiner's behavior in all its lurid detail — including his online alias "Carlos Danger" and a selfie of his bulging underwear — turned him and his last name into an irresistible punchline for late-night comics and mortified his wife, former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, again and again. He also said he failed their 5-year-old son.
"I betrayed his amazing mother," he said. " I was teaching him the wrong things.
The couple are getting divorced. She was not in the courtroom Monday; Weiner's parents were there.
Weiner had faced up to 27 months after pleading guilty to one charge of transferring obscene material to a minor. Prosecutors said he sent a 15-year-old girl porn and got her to take her clothes off and touch herself on Skype.
In sentencing Weiner, the judge said, "This is a serious crime that deserves serious punishment."
Federal guidelines allow for "good time" credit up to 15 percent of the sentence, which means it's possible Weiner could serve 18 months. Weiner must surrender to prison officials by Nov. 6, so it's possible he'd be eligible for release in May 2019. His lawyers asked that he not be sent to maximum security lockup in New York, which means he may serve his sentence out of state. After serving his time, Weiner will also be subject to three years of supervised release, which will include monitoring of his digital life.
Mayor de Blasio called the sentencing "very, very sad" in an unrelated Q&A with media Monday afternoon.
"It's a human tragedy for his family, for him," the mayor said. "It's time for us to stop talking about it. It's over."
The sentencing completed the sordid downfall of the New York Democrat, whose penchant for exchanging lewd messages and photos with young women online destroyed his career in Congress in 2011, doomed his bid for mayor of New York in 2013, wrecked his marriage to Abedin, Hillary Clinton's closest aide, and became entangled in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The FBI was investigating Weiner's contact with the high school student when it came across emails on his laptop between Abedin and Clinton, prompting then-FBI Director James Comey to announce in late October 2016 that he was reopening the probe of Clinton's use of a private computer server.
Two days before Election Day, the FBI announced there was nothing new in the emails. But Clinton has blamed Comey's handling of the episode more than any other factor for her loss to Donald Trump. In a recent NBC interview, she called the FBI director's intervention "the determining factor" in her defeat.
Lawyers for the 53-year-old Weiner had argued for light sentencing, saying in court papers that he was undergoing treatment and was profoundly sorry for subjecting the North Carolina high school student to what his lawyers called his "deep sickness." They also portrayed the girl as an instigator, saying she wanted to generate material for a book and possibly influence the presidential election.
Prosecutors had said the victim's motives should not influence his punishment. They urged the judge to put Weiner's claims of a therapeutic awakening in the context of a man who made similar claims after embarrassing, widely publicized interactions with adult women before encountering the teenager online in January 2016.
The conduct "suggests a dangerous level of denial and lack of self-control," they said.