Trial of former Virginia governor goes to jury

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell arrives at federal court on August 28  in Richmond, Virginia.

Story highlights

  • Former Gov. McDonnell and his wife face charges of influence-peddling
  • Their defense involved a broken marriage with little communication
  • Prosecutors say the McDonnells took gifts in return for helping a businessman
  • Witnesses included some of the couple's children
It had all the elements of a soap opera.
A broken marriage. Alleged influence peddling. Courtroom drama.
Now the trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife has gone to the jury after more than a month of sometimes soul-baring testimony on whether they improperly accepted gifts from a businessman while in office in exchange for promoting his company.
McDonnell, a one-time rising star in the Republican Party with potential presidential ambitions, and his wife, Maureen, arrived and left the courthouse separately throughout the trial in a display at the heart of their defense.
The pair pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of fraud, making false statements, and obstruction. They were indicted in January after McDonnell left office following the lone term allowed under Virginia law.
Prosecutors alleged the McDonnells accepted gifts with a combined value of at least $140,000 from Jonnie Williams, a nutritional supplement executive, in exchange for promoting his company using the power and the trappings of the governor's office.
The gifts included designer clothes, a Rolex watch, golf clubs, iPhones and a painting, according to the indictment and evidence presented at the trial.
Inside the McDonnell gifting scandal
Inside the McDonnell gifting scandal


    Inside the McDonnell gifting scandal


Inside the McDonnell gifting scandal 02:03
Their defense? The 38-year marriage was so broken that the McDonnells barely spoke to each other, let alone conspired to peddle influence in the way alleged by the government.
McDonnell said he didn't commit any crime, though he acknowledged questionable judgment in accepting what he called the "personal generosity and friendship" of Williams.
Defense lawyers argued that Maureen McDonnell, seeking emotional attachment because of her loveless marriage, developed what they described as a kind of schoolgirl crush on Williams and relished the attention and gifts from him.
The question was whether she or her husband reciprocated by promoting Williams' business in government circles.
Witnesses included some of the family's five grown children, former staff members of the governor and others close to the family.
The McDonnells tried to get their cases separated, but lost that bid.