FBI agent testifies as prosecutors rest case against Va. Governor, wife

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 14, 2014 10:21 AM

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - An FBI agent will be back on the witness stand on Thursday as federal prosecutors wrap up their corruption and bribery case against former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen.

The couple is charged with accepting gifts and loans totaling more than $165,000 from a businessman in exchange for promoting his dietary supplements company.

Testifying for the prosecution on Wednesday, FBI Special Agent David Hulser gave an analysis of their credit card and telephone records, along with those of the prosecution's star witness, Jonnie Williams, former chief executive of Star Scientific Inc, now Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Hulser showed that the couple used money from Williams to help reduce their credit card debt, which peaked at $90,000, and to pay other bills.

Williams' credit card purchases include more than $19,000 in dresses and accessories for the first lady during a New York shopping spree, and a $6,500 Rolex watch for the Republican governor.

The prosecution is expected to conclude its arguments on Thursday. The defense will likely begin its case next week.

The defense has said the McDonnells could not have been conspiring with Williams because their marriage was crumbling and they were not on speaking terms.

Maureen McDonnell had a "crush" on Williams, and their relationship could be regarded as inappropriate, her attorney has said.

But Hulser's analysis of phone records indicated that the McDonnells exchanged more than 300 telephone calls lasting more than a minute between April 2011 and February 2013.

During the same period, Williams and Maureen McDonnell exchanged about half as many.

The former governor has said that while some of his actions might have been questionable, they were not illegal. His four-year term ended in January.

If the McDonnells are convicted, they could each face prison sentences of 20 years and hefty fines.

(Editing by Ian Simpson and Susan Heavey)