A lengthy document submitted by the defense says Patrick Ho "deeply regrets" what he did and will atone for his crimes for the rest of his life.
Ho's lawyers submitted the 35-page document to Judge Loretta Preska, asking her to release Ho based on the time served for his charges.
That essentially means sentencing him to imprisonment equivalent to the time he has been in custody so that he can be released after the sentence has been handed down.
The lawyers said Ho has been detained for 16 months - since November 2017 - and during that time he tutored several other prisoners at the Metropolitan Correctional Center and taught classes on topics such as geography and personal finance.
Attorney Edward Kim wrote that many individuals in Ho's situation would have reacted with bitterness and self-pity.
"But it is ingrained in Patrick to serve no matter the circumstances," Kim wrote. "In good times and bad, he considers it his duty to leverage his talents and the good fortune he has enjoyed in his life to better the lives of those around him."
Ho helped take care of suicide-prone inmates and played the violin during graduation ceremonies and festivals held in the prison, he added.
Ho's family, together with some of his fellow inmates and former and incumbent Hong Kong officials and legislators, wrote mitigation letters.
One of the inmates wrote that he once dropped his eyeglasses into the toilet and Ho picked them up without hesitation and handed them back to him after cleaning them.
This depicted that Ho was humble and patient, the inmate added.
Another inmate, who spent a year with Ho in prison, wrote that he often consulted Ho when he felt unwell and also introduced other prisoners to him as he cared for others and showed compassion.
Ho's daughter Audrey wrote that her father loved her unconditionally and that he is her best friend and role model.
She added that she will be going to university in two years' time and will need her father to guide her down the correct path.
"I need him so much and he is really important to me. Our family needs him," she wrote.
Politicians writing mitigation letters included legislators Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan and Leung Che-cheung, former lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing, National People's Congress Hong Kong deputy Ip Kwok-him and former secretary for home affairs Tsang Tak-sing.
However, former chief executives Tung Chee-hwa, who recommended that Ho become secretary for home affairs, and Leung Chun-ying, who was the Executive Council convener when Ho was home affairs secretary, were not among the 149 people that wrote.