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SAN DIEGO — An aide to former California congressional candidate Carl DeMaio was sentenced Monday to five years' probation for lying to federal investigators about a threatening email he wrote but said might have come from DeMaio, one of several allegations that rocked one of last year's most closely watched congressional races.

Todd Bosnich, 30, apologized in court and said in a brief statement that he took full responsibility for his actions. His attorney said Bosnich fabricated the email in an effort to bolster sexual harassment claims against DeMaio.

Bosnich claimed during the campaign he was offered $50,000 to keep quiet about the harassment claims against DeMaio, while DeMaio said he suspected Bonsich of a campaign office burglary. DeMaio, an openly gay Republican, lost his bid to unseat Democrat Scott Peters by 3.2 percentage points in a campaign that was dominated by the back-and-forth accusations during its final month.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns accepted the prosecution's recommendation for five years' probation, saying Bosnich's decision to share the bogus email with Peters' campaign was a "vindictive" gesture that may have cost DeMaio and damaged the democratic process. The judge also said Bosnich didn't deserve jail time, noting the blemish of a felony conviction for obstruction of justice and acceptance of responsibility.

"Whatever his grievance was, I don't think he handled it the correct way," Burns said.

DeMaio fired Bosnich as his policy director six months before the election for reasons that remain in dispute. Bosnich says he was let go after complaining about harassment to DeMaio and other staff, while DeMaio contends he was fired for plagiarism.

Frank Vecchione, Bosnich's attorney, called his client's email "an inexplicable, uncharacteristic episode." He recommended three years' probation.

"His dream of working in politics and government has essentially ended," Vecchione wrote the judge. "He has caused great humiliation to himself and his family; his reputation in the community has been greatly impacted."

Bosnich sent the email to himself from a Yahoo account he created under a pseudonym and shared it with Peters' campaign manager. Prosecutors haven't released its contents but a plea agreement reached in June calls it "particularly ugly and threatening." It says Bosnich would never work in politics again if he continued to make allegations against DeMaio.

DeMaio, 41, is a former San Diego city councilman and mayoral candidate who is leading a campaign for a statewide ballot initiative to curb public pensions.