A young former aide to city Comptroller John Liu convicted in a campaign finance scheme was sentenced to just 10 months in jail Thursday after a weeping appeal to a federal judge who said he hoped the short sentence would spare her deportation.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan said he believed a sentence of less than 1 year might influence immigration officials to not deport former Liu campaign treasurer Jia "Jenny" Hou, 27, a Chinese citizen who has been in the United States since childhood.

"If it makes a difference to immigration officials and would allow you to stay in the country, I think that would be a good thing," said Sullivan, who indicated he initially intended to sentence Hou to 1 year and 1 day in prison.

Hou, a Queens resident, was convicted in May of participating in a scheme to unlawfully get matching funds from the New York City Campaign Finance Board by using phony "straw" donors, lying to the FBI and withholding documents from a grand jury.

Co-defendant Xing Wu "Oliver" Pan, 47, of Jersey City, a fundraiser who was also convicted in the scheme after an FBI undercover operative cajoled him to find straw donors for a Liu fundraising event, was sentenced to 4 months in prison.

Pan and Hou were both caught up in a federal investigation of onetime mayoral candidate Liu, who was never charged. Prosecutors wanted Sullivan to sentence Hou to 24 to 30 months in prison, and Pan to get 8 to 14 months.

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Hou and her lawyer, Gerald Lefocourt, maintained that she was a naive aide with no campaign skills or experience who was overwhelmed by the job of treasurer, but never understood the scheme unfolding around her. Her father was a Liu donor.

"Throughout these proceedings . . . I have maintained my innocence," Hou told the judge. "With respect for the court I am not changing that position."

"In hindsight, if I did not see the forest for the trees, that is a failing for which I will pay with the rest of my life," she added, bowing to the judge and weeping as she finished.

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Pan apologized for his actions.

"I have now learned that when my intuition tells me it is not right, I should not do it," Pan said.

Lefcourt and Pan's lawyer, Irwin Rochman, both said they planned to appeal the convictions.