White-Collar Crime

Ex-governor of Virginia, a former state AG, is indicted with his wife in corruption case


In office as Virginia’s governor until earlier this month, Robert F. “Bob” McDonnell, a former state attorney general once considered a prospect for the White House, is now federally indicted along with his wife, Maureen, on corruption charges.

The two are accused of accepting loans, gifts, vacations and the use of a private plane from the CEO of a Virginia-based dietary supplement company, in exchange for favorable treatment, according to the New York Times (reg. req.), the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), the Washington Times and WWBT.

The couple face charges including honest-services wire fraud, obtaining property under color of official right and making false statements to a financial institution in loan applications. The Times provides a copy of the Tuesday indictment (PDF), which seeks forfeiture of not less than $140,805.46, as well forfeiture of a long list of gifts, including two iPhones, an engraved Rolex men’s watch and designer shoes, sweaters and dresses.

The McDonnells are expected to appear in federal court in Richmond on Friday to respond to the indictment, TPM reports.

Meanwhile, McDonnell has insisted he and his wife did not violate the law in their dealings with Jonnie Williams Sr. of Star Scientific, and he reiterated that position in a Tuesday written statement provided to the Wall Street Journal.

“I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship. I never promised—and Mr. Williams and his company never received—any government benefit of any kind from me or my administration,” wrote McDonnell.

“I deeply regret accepting legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of which have been repaid with interest, and I have apologized for my poor judgment for which I take full responsibility.”

The 59-year-old former governor vowed “to use every available resource and advocate” to “fight these false allegations, and to prevail against this unjust overreach of the federal government,” the Washington Post (reg. req.) reports.

Attorney William Burck represents Maureen McDonnell. He, too, said the Department of Justice had “overreached” in bringing the case. “Thankfully, however, the Department is not the sole arbiter in our justice system, which ultimately is not ruled by the unfounded suspicions of prosecutors but rather the law and the facts as decided by the judge and the jury,” Burck told the newspaper.

The Post says McDonnell is the first former Virginia governor ever to face criminal charges concerning his work in office.

A law graduate of Regent University, McDonnell served as the state’s attorney general prior to becoming governor, noted a news release published in 2009 on the Regent University website. He worked as a prosecutor in Virginia Beach after graduating from law school in 1989, Time magazine said in a biography published the same year.

ABC News discusses Maureen McDonnell’s background in a 2012 article.

See also:

Politico: “Bob McDonnell and wife indicted in gift scandal”

Richmond Times-Dispatch (2013): “Scandal alters first lady Maureen McDonnell’s image”

Slate (2013): “Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Asked to Resign Over Scandal”

Washingon Post (2013, reg. req.): “Virginia governor’s wife was paid $36,000 as consultant to coal philanthropy”

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