RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Defense attorneys took aim Friday at a businessman's testimony that his relationship with former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his family was all about business, saying the former CEO texted or called the first lady more than 1,200 times over the course of nearly two years.
Jonnie Williams is a key witness for the prosecution and is testifying under immunity. Attorney William Burck also showed an email the former governor's wife, Maureen McDonnell, sent to Williams the day an earthquake hit Virginia. It said: "I just felt the EARTH MOVE AND I WASN'T HAVING SEX!!!!"
The McDonnells are charged in a 14-count federal indictment with taking more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Williams in exchange for their help promoting his company's products, primarily the dietary supplement Anatabloc. If convicted, they could face decades in prison.
Williams, who is testifying for a third day, has said his relationship with the McDonnells was about benefiting his business, not friendship.
Williams testified Thursday that he did not have a romantic relationship with former Gov. Bob McDonnell's wife, Maureen. A defense attorney had said earlier this week that Maureen McDonnell, her marriage with her frequently absent husband on the rocks, had developed a crush on Williams and that the former Star Scientific Inc. CEO had deceived her into believing he cared for her.
Williams previously detailed a pattern of requests for gifts by Maureen McDonnell and a $20,000 loan former Gov. Bob McDonnell asked for, along with several events to promote Anatabloc the couple attended — including the product's official launch at the governor's mansion. Williams said he handed out eight $25,000 checks to medical researchers at that event "to prime the pump" for what he hoped would be state-sponsored clinical trials of Anatabloc.
He also talked about his discussions with the governor about transferring some Star Scientific stock to McDonnell so he could borrow against it. Williams said he wanted to keep the deal secret because he knew it was wrong, and McDonnell went along.
"It could be violating laws. I don't know that. It could be," he said.
He said he ultimately concluded he could not make the transfer without reporting it to federal regulators, so he just made a $50,000 loan instead.
Among the gifts from Williams was a Rolex watch he said Maureen requested and then gave to her husband for Christmas in 2012.
"It was a bad decision on my part to buy that watch when she asked for it," Williams said. "I shouldn't have had to buy things like that to get the help I needed."
The watch was passed to the jury, where each juror briefly inspected it as a silent courtroom watched.
Maureen McDonnell also admired Williams' Ferrari and asked if anything like that would be available at his lake house, where the McDonnell family was preparing to spend a short vacation. Williams said no.
"She said, 'It would be nice. We never get to do things like this,'" Williams testified.
He said he had the car delivered. The jury was shown photos of Bob McDonnell driving the sports car.