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Trial of former Virginia Gov. McDonnell heads to jury next week

By Greg Clary, CNN
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
Closing arguments have concluded in the trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen.
Closing arguments have concluded in the trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was a rising star in the Republican Party
  • He and his wife are on trial on federal charges
  • They are accused of accepting loans and gifts from a businessman
  • Closing arguments in the trial concluded Friday; the case will go to the jury next week

Richmond (CNN) -- Closing arguments concluded Friday in the trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen. The two are accused of conspiring to commit corruption after accepting money loans from a person hoping to gain the governor's influential support for a business product.

Prosecutors argued during their closing that McDonnell, while seemingly taking responsibility for his actions, blamed others at every turn.

McDonnell's defense rides on the claim that he did not know his wife Maureen had accepted loans from Jonnie Williams, who was seeking support from the governor for a product from his nutritional supplement company. Nor did he know that she had accepted designer dresses or a Rolex watch as a gift from Williams, defense lawyers said.

During the trial, salacious details about the couple's marriage came out, detailing that purportedly they barely spoke after 38 years of marriage and thus, said the defense, could not have conspired to corrupt.

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Prosecutors said the two didn't need to like each other to conspire.

"He was a strong governor. He was a weak husband," prosecutor Michael Dry said of the one-time rising star in the Republican Party who had potential presidential ambitions.

McDonnell, wife plead not guilty to gift charges

Prosecutors alleged that once Maureen McDonnell became aware of the investigation about the corruption, she returned the designer dresses that she received from Williams. She wrote a note to Williams saying that she hoped his daughters could wear the dresses after she received them on loan, or that even they could be auctioned for a worthy charity.

The prosecution pointed out that Williams' daughters are smaller in size than Maureen McConnell

If the dresses were in fact on loan, that would not be a crime. The governor's wife waited two years to return them, however.

The defense also argued that there is no direct effect of those loans or other gifts given to the McDonnells that caused the governor use official actions to help Williams and his business,

Prosecutors said they don't need to prove there was a direct action based on the alleged bribes but did note Williams was able to have his business featured during an event at the executive mansion, and the governor pitched his product during a meeting with state workers.

Defense lawyers also contended Williams was only out for himself, selling out the governor to gain immunity from alleged crimes. They also argued that Williams made up a lot of his story to give the government a bigger prize in the former governor.

Jurors will return after the Labor Day weekend to receive instructions from the judge and then head to deliberations.

The former governor was once rumored to be a potential vice presidential candidate with Mitt Romney.

"It's sad for the McDonald family and sad for the state of Virginia. Regardless of the verdict, there will be no winners," prosecutor Dry said.

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