According to CBS News on Thursday, Former Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va., and his wife, Maureen, have been found guilty on multiple counts of corruption. The trial had 24 days of testimonies, and the jury, consisting of seven men and five women, took only 18 hours over a three-day period since Labor Day to come back with a verdict.
The McDonnells were indicted on 14 counts of public corruption in January and charged with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from wealthy businessman Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Star Scientific Inc., in exchange for promoting Williams' anti-inflammatory vitamin supplement called Anatabloc. McDonnell testified in his own defense saying that he never gave Williams special treatment in exchange for gifts and money. The gifts included trips, a Rolex watch, designer clothes, and paying for wedding for daughter.
The New York Daily News reported that the McDonnells were not found guilty on all of the 14 charges. However, the former governor was found guilty on 11 different counts relating to the conspiracy charges. The former first lady of Virginia was found guilty on eight of the 11 conspiracy charges as well as one charge of obstruction of official proceeding that occurred during the grand jury investigation.
According to reporters in the courtroom, the McDonnells and others began sobbing as the verdict was read which took about ten minutes. However, a Richmond reporter pointed out that the McDonnells didn't attempt to comfort each other. Throughout the trial, the McDonnells' lawyers used "a broken marriage" as a defense. The former governor claimed he was not aware of some of the transactions his wife made with Williams.
Defense lawyers for both Bob and Maureen McDonnell have tried to portray the former first lady as the one promoting Anatabloc in exchange for Williams' favors. Because her position was purely ceremonial, the couple could only have been convicted of corruption if the jury believed they conspired together to do it.
The McDonnells, prosecutors had claimed, were in deep debt and were in no position to refuse the gifts, given to them by Williams. Throughout the case, the McDonnells, who were tried together but hired separate attorneys, did not deny receiving cash and gifts from Williams, but repeatedly contended that they did not do anything in exchange for them.
The former governor testified in his own defense, but the former first lady did not testify in her own defense. This is the first time a governor in Virginia has been indicted on charges. People are saying, "It's a sad day for the Commonwealth." Many are shocked by the verdict. They never thought the verdict would be this drastic.
McDonnell, a prominent former Republican governor and his wife Maureen could now face up to decades in federal prison. Their sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 6 at 10:00 a.m. At that time the McDonnells plan to appeal today's decision. When McDonnell left the court house, he merely said his faith will see him through this.