January 24, 2014
Judge sets July trial for former Va. governor McDonnell
The Washington Post reports: RICHMOND — Former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, entered not guilty pleas Friday to charges that they engaged in conspiracy and fraud, trading on his office to provide assistance to a businessman in exchange for luxury gifts and loans.
The couple entered U.S. District Court about 9:15 a.m., holding hands as they walked past reporters and others waiting to watch the proceedings. Robert McDonnell hugged a priest who was in line. After a brief first appearance, the couple again held hands as they entered a second courtroom for an arraignment.
A federal judge set a trial date of July 28. The couple can remain free pending the trial.
Authorities allege that for nearly two years, the McDonnells repeatedly asked Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. for loans and gifts of money, clothes, golf fees and equipment, trips and private plane rides. The gifts and loans totaled at least $165,000. In exchange, authorities allege, the McDonnells worked in concert to lend the prestige of the governor’s office to Williams’s struggling company, Star Scientific, a former small cigarette manufacturer that now sells dietary supplements.