December 20, 2013
In probe of Va. Gov. McDonnell, prosecutors agreed to delay decision on charges
Federal prosecutors told Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell last week that he and his wife would be charged in connection with a gift scandal, but senior Justice Department officials delayed the decision after the McDonnells’ attorneys made a face-to-face appeal in Washington, according to people familiar with the case.
Dana J. Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, told the McDonnells’ legal teams that he planned to ask a grand jury to return an indictment no later than this past Monday, people familiar with the conversations said.
McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen, would have been charged with working together to illegally promote a struggling dietary-supplement company in exchange for gifts and loans from its chief executive, the people said.
The plan to seek the felony charges this week changed, however, after attorneys for the state’s first couple met with Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole on Dec. 12. The attorneys argued that the governor had done nothing improper to assist businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. In particular, they focused on the credibility of a key witness, said a person familiar with the presentation. They also argued that if prosecutors proceeded with charges, they should wait until after McDonnell left office Jan. 11 to allow a smooth transition of power to Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe (D).