Former Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) and his wife Maureen have been found guilty on corruption charges by a federal jury in Richmond, Virginia. During McDonnell’s 2010-2014 term in the governor’s mansion, the family received over $165,000 in gifts and loans from Johnnie Williams Sr., then-CEO of dietary supplement company Star Scientific. Governor McDonnell claimed that the gifts were not politically motivated, and that he considered Williams a friend. He also claimed that his wife Maureen arranged for many of the gifts and loans behind his back.
The controversy arose in 2013 as it became clear that the McDonnells had received gifts from Williams and had not reported them in financial disclosure reports. At the time, family members of Virginia elected officials were not required to disclose gifts that they had received. The Federal Bureau of Investigation began their own investigation, and the McDonnells were indicted on fourteen federal charges in January 2014, making Governor McDonnell the first Virginia governor to be charged with [and now convicted of] a crime while in office.
It initially appeared that the McDonnells were attempting to hide the gifts by receiving them in Maureen’s name, but evidence at trial suggested that Maureen was the driving force behind the scandal, and it remains unclear when the governor became fully aware of what was going on. Despite this, the federal jury found both Bob and Maureen guilty on most of the charges brought against them.
The McDonnells, as a couple, were charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right, six counts of obtaining property under color of official right, and making false statements to a financial institution. The governor was also charged with an additional count of making false statements to a financial institution, and Maureen was charged with one count of obstruction of justice.
Bob McDonnell was found guilty of eleven of the thirteen charges against him—each count of conspiracy, wire fraud, and obtaining property under color of official right. He was acquitted of two charges of making false statements to a financial institution. Maureen McDonnell was found guilty on nine of the thirteen charges against her—each count of conspiracy, two of the three counts of wire fraud, four of the six counts of obtaining property under color of official right, and obstruction of justice. She was acquitted of one charge of wire fraud, two charges of obtaining property under color of official right, and the charge of making false statements to a financial institution.
A sentencing hearing has been set for January 2015, and the McDonnells could face years or even decades in federal prison.