By Gary Robertson
RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - The federal corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife ends its second week on Friday after a senior state official said he referred to the businessman at the center of the case as "Tic Tac man."
Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. William Hazel testified on Thursday that he was highly skeptical of the health claims made about a dietary supplement product that the businessman, Jonnie Williams Sr., was promoting.
“They were unbelievable to me. To say I was skeptical was an understatement,” said Hazel, who met with Williams to discuss his product.
Hazel told jurors in U.S. District Court that Williams was dubbed “Tic Tac man” because he was constantly giving away samples of the supplement, Anatabloc, which resembled the candy.
Hazel said he was aware of a proposal by Williams to test Anatabloc on state employees but that he never considered it.
McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, face 14 counts of corruption and bribery for allegedly accepting the gifts and loans from Williams in exchange for supporting his former company, a dietary supplement maker now known as Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Hazel’s testimony reinforced prosecutors' assertion that as governor, McDonnell played an active role in helping Williams.
In other testimony on Thursday, Sarah Scarbrough, the former director of the governor's mansion, said McDonnell and his wife had a loving relationship and there was no trouble between them.
The relationship is critical to the corruption case because defense attorneys have said their marriage was crumbling and that they could not have been involved in a conspiracy because they never talked to each other.
Attorneys for the couple have argued that accepting the gifts from Williams was unseemly but not illegal.
If convicted, the McDonnells could face more than 20 years in prison and a large fine. McDonnell's four-year term as governor ended in January.
(Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Bill Trott)