March 26, 2014
Attorneys ask judge to try former Va. governor and his wife separately
Former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife want separate trials on the federal corruption charges they both are facing, saying in court filings late Tuesday that a joint proceeding would prevent Maureen McDonnell, in particular, from taking the witness stand to exonerate her husband.
The filings — which came on the same day that the couple’s attorneys asked a judge to toss the charges against them outright — suggest that Maureen McDonnell is willing to testify that her husband was largely in the dark about her interactions with Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., and that the couple could not have engaged in a conspiracy to lend the prestige of the governor’s office to Williams’s struggling dietary supplement company, Star Scientific.
Prosecutors alleged such a conspiracy in January, when the McDonnells were charged in a 14-count indictment that accused them of receiving gifts and loans from Williams totaling at least $165,000. In exchange, prosecutors alleged, Robert McDonnell hosted a product launch for Star’s dietary supplement, Anatabloc; promoted it at public events; arranged meetings between Williams and senior state health officials; and worked with his wife to encourage state researchers to consider conducting trials of the product. The McDonnells have pleaded not guilty and a trial is scheduled to begin in July.