Corruption trial of Virginia governor, wife, enters third week

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 11, 2014 10:21 AM

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - The corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen enters its third week on Monday after testimony that centered on the former first lady's behavior.

McDonnell, a Republican, and his wife face 14 counts of corruption and bribery for allegedly accepting $165,000 in gifts and loans from businessman Jonnie Williams Sr. in exchange for supporting his former company Star Scientific, a dietary supplements maker.

Testimony during the trial's second week centered on Maureen McDonnell's behavior, with former staffers portraying a volatile first lady who yelled at aides.

Matt Conrad, McDonnell's deputy chief of staff, said under questioning by prosecutors on Friday that aides were worried that if some of the gifts hidden by Maureen McDonnell were also intended for the governor they needed to be recorded on financial disclosure forms.

Paul Perito, the former chairman and chief operating officer of Star Scientific, now known as Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals Inc, testified that he had no idea of Williams' largesse toward the McDonnells.

To win a conviction, prosecutors must convince the jury that the governor took official acts to help Williams. Attorneys for the couple have argued that accepting the gifts and money was unseemly but not illegal.

The trial is expected to last five weeks. 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.

(Reporting by Gary Robertson; Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Will Dunham)