Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell found guilty of corruption
Robert McDonnell, the former governor of Virginia from 2010 through earlier this year, was found guilty by jury on Thursday of 11 counts involving corrupt conduct carried out while running the state.
Both the ex-governor and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, were indicted earlier this year on multiple counts each of conspiracy, bribery and extortion stemming from accusations that they improperly accepted $177,000 in gifts and cash while in office from vitamin executive Jonnie Williams.
From a federal courthouse in Richmond, VA early Thursday afternoon, a jury convicted Mr. McDonnell on 11 of the 13 counts he faced; his wife was found guilty of nine counts, and both were acquitted on bank fraud charges.
Eyewitnesses reported from the state capital that the McDonnells sobbed heavily as the verdicts were read. They will both remain free until sentencing, currently scheduled for January 6, 2015, but face decades each in federal prison pending the outcome of that hearing.
Prosecutors argued at trial that the couple accepted lavish gifts, vacations and loans from Williams, the owner of a nutritional supplement company, in exchange for the governor’s endorsement. On his part, however, Mr. McDonnell said while on the stand that he gave Williams “the bare, basic, routine access to government and nothing more,” according to the New York Times.
“The McDonnells were shown to have used Mr. Williams like an ATM,” Times journalist Trip Gabriel reported from Richmond on Thursday. “In May 2012, Mr. McDonnell texted the executive, suggesting, ‘per voice mail, would like to see if you could extend another 20k loan.’ Mr. Williams replied within minutes: ‘Done.’”
The high-profile trial lasted roughly a month and a half, including three days of deliberation that started on Tuesday this week, and made headlines across the state and country during the course of the ordeal as 67 witnesses offered testimony.
Hank Asbill, an attorney for Mr. McDonnell, told the Washington Post after Thursday’s hearing, “I’m obviously very disappointed,” and added, “We will appeal.”
“All I can say is my trust belongs in the Lord,” the former governor said as he left court, the Post reported.