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article imageVirginia governor and wife 'Guilty' on multiple charges

By Karen Graham     Sep 4, 2014 in Crime
Richmond - Virginia's 71st governor, Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen were convicted today by a federal jury on multiple public corruption charges in U.S. District Court in Richmond. The verdict was reached after three days of deliberations.
Today's verdict brings to a close a gripping tale of public corruption of the office of the governor. The McDonnell's were accused of the unlawful abuse of that office by accepting expensive gifts and cash from a local businessman, Jonnie R. Williams, Sr. This is also the first time in the Commonwealth's history that a governor has been convicted of a felony.
The seven men and five women of the jury sat through weeks of testimony covering the alleged charges of corruption, and acquitted the McDonnell's of a few of them. But the allegations of using the governors office to lend prestige to and advance the business of Williams was perceived as a corruption of the office once held by Thomas Jefferson.
While the verdict was read today, the McDonnell's openly wept, as did family members and supporters. The former governor and his wife face the possibility of decades in prison, although it is possible the actual sentences will be shorter. Sentencing is set for January 6, 2015 at 10 a.m.
McDonnell was a rising star in the Republican party before the last election. At that time, there were rumblings of improprieties stemming from accusations by the former Governors Mansion chef, who had been charged with stealing from the kitchen. After a federal investigation, in January of this year, the pair was indicted on 14 counts of fraud, making false statements and obstruction.
The charges centered around the governor and his wife accepting gifts with a combined value of over $170,000 from Williams in exchange for promoting his nutritional supplement company using the glamour and trappings of the governor's office. From a Rolex watch to vacations, a wardrobe for the first lady and loans, the prosecutors alleged these "gifts" were an exchange for the governor's backing of Williams.
McDonnell consistently denied doing anything wrong. The couple's defense was marred with the public evidence of their crumbling 48-year marriage, with the animosity so open they rarely spoke to each other in court. Defense lawyers argued that Maureen McDonnell, seeking emotional attachment because of her loveless marriage, developed a schoolgirl crush on Williams and loved all the attention and gifts from him.
Sordid at times and always sad, the trial dragged on, airing the state's dirty laundry for all the nation to see. In the end, the jury issued guilty verdicts on 11 counts against McDonnell, clearing him on two others. Maureen McDonnell was convicted on nine counts and cleared on four.
More about Bob McDonnell, Virginia, Governor McDonnell, corruption charges, Businessman
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