Jury convicts ex-VA governor, wife for corruption, bribery

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Richmond, VA, United States (4E) – A federal grand jury on Thursday convicted former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell (R-Va.) and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, for conspiracy, corruption and bribery.

The 71st governor of Virginia was convicted of 11 of 14 counts while his co-defendant and the former first lady was convicted of nine of 13 counts stemming from more than $177,000 in gifts and loans they received from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the then CEO of Star Scientific, in exchange for promoting the latter’s product, Anatabloc. They were found not guilty of bank fraud charges.

McDonnell became the first governor to be convicted of felony at the end of the five-week trial presided by Judge James R. Spencer at the Eastern District Court of Virginia. He was also the first governor to be indicted for the charge on Jan. 21, days after he left office.

The jury deliberated for three days before reaching the verdict. The judge set the sentencing on Jan. 6 at 10 a.m. The maximum sentence for each corruption charge is 20 years. The McDonnells will appeal the decision.

“All I can say is my trust remains in the Lord,” the former governor told reporters outside the courthouse, according to Richmond Times Dispatch. His wife left the courthouse later.

McDonnell started crying when the clerk of court read the guilty verdicts. His supporters inside the courtroom also cried.

He was found guilty of making a false statement on a personal financial statement he submitted to TowneBank on Oct. 3, 2012 as he did not mention the $50,000 loan from Williams in his liabilities totaling $2.075 million.

McDonnell and his wife were found guilty of making a false statement on a Feb. 1, 2013 loan application to Pentagon Federal Credit Union for not mentioning $120,000 in loans from Williams in their $2.83 million liabilities.

Mrs. McDonnell was found guilty of obstruction of a federal proceeding in March 2013 for writing Williams a letter that falsely claimed she had planned to return certain designer goods. The goods included a $6,000 Rolex watch and golf gear that Williams gave the couple.

Lawyers of McDonnell said the couple did not conspire claiming their marriage was on the rocks and they were no longer in speaking terms. McDonnell also denied that Williams benefitted from his actions.

Prosecutors presented overwhelming evidence such as loan documents, text messages, emails, phone records, calendars and photographs.

Williams took Mrs. McDonnell on a $20,000 shopping spree in New York, paid the $15,000 cost of the ex-governor’s daughter’s wedding reception, gave a $10,000 wedding gift to another daughter, and let the first couple take a vacation at his lake house, including driving his Ferrari.

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