Former Republican Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Wife Maureen Found Guilty of Corruption, Received $165K to Promote Vitamin Supplement
A Virginia jury has found the former Republican governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, and his wife, Maureen, guilty of corruption, and could face decades in prison.
After three days of deliberation, McDonnell was found guilty of more than 11 counts of corruption, according to CBS DC, and his wife guilty of nine.
McDonnell and his wife were indicted on 13 counts of public corruption each in January for accepting $165,000 in gifts and loans from the CEO of Star Scientific Inc., Joannie Williams. In exchange, McDonnell used his influence to promote the company's vitamin supplement Anatabolic.
McDonnell's defense argued that the former governor was not aware of the extent of the gifts and loans because his wife was the one asking for them, reports CBS News. Saying she had a crush on the businessman, the defense hoped to take advantage of a quirk in the law that would prevent the couple from being convicted. The First Lady position is ceremonial so "the couple could only have been convicted of corruption if the jury believed they conspired together to do it."
The defense's strategy brought to light all the couple's alleged problems.
However, one of the most damning pieces of evidence was a pair of emails sent six minutes apart asking Williams to finalize the paperwork on a $50,000 loan to McDonnell.
In exchange, McDonnell asked an aide to "see me about anatabolic issues" at University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University. However, the former governor denied allegations he gave Williams preferential treatment for money.
"We don't make decisions based on money. No sir," McDonnell said.
He said he was not aware his wife had asked for favors from Williams, including the loans, but decided not to fight with her about it.
According to Politico, the couple's attorneys said they would appeal the ruling.
The governor briefly spoke with reporters after leaving the courthouse, saying: "All I can say is my trust belongs in the Lord."
However, the Department of Justice sees the incident as a big victory for the judicial system.
"In pursuit of a lifestyle that they could ill afford, McDonnell and his wife eagerly accepted luxury items, designer clothes, free vacations and the businessman's offer to pay the costs of their daughter's wedding," said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Cladwell in a statement. "In return, McDonnell put the weight of the governor's mansion behind the businessman's corporate interests. The former governor was elected to serve the people of Virginia, but his corrupt actions instead betrayed them."
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