A federal appeals court has upheld the corruption conviction and eight-year prison sentence of former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi.

    The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Court on Wednesday also upheld the conviction and seven-year sentence of DiMasi's co-defendant, former Statehouse lobbyist Richard McDonough.

    DiMasi was convicted by a jury in 2011 of conspiracy, extortion and other charges. He was accused of using his political clout to steer contracts to a software firm in exchange for payments of $65,000.

    DiMasi's lawyers argued that the payments were legal referral fees, not bribes.

    Defense attorneys said the sentence imposed on DiMasi, who has been treated for cancer in prison, was unusually harsh.

    But the appeals court said the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction and that the sentence was reasonable.

    DiMasi's lawyer, Tom Kiley, had no immediate comment.  (Associated Press)

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