Former Va. Republican Gov. McDonnell And Wife Indicted In Gifts Case
The McDonnells are charged with illegally accepting gifts, luxury vacations and large loans from a wealthy businessman in return for special consideration from state government.
The two were charged in connection with their relationship with dietary supplement executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr.
Authorities alleged McDonnell and his wife received gifts from Williams again and again, lodging near constant requests for money, clothes, trips, golf accessories and private plane rides.
In exchange, they alleged the McDonnells worked in concert to lend the prestige of the governorship to Williams’s struggling company, a small former cigarette manufacturer that now sells dietary supplements.
USA Today follows up with additional details:
The charges against the couple were outlined in a document filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia that details how McDonnell and his wife accepted more than $135,000 in gifts and loans, trips, designer clothing and other items from Jonnie Williams Sr., former CEO of Star Scientific
The 14-count indictment, filed on Tuesday, charges McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, with a wide array of official corruption. Specifically, the McDonnells were charged with wire fraud, conspiracy and obtaining property under the auspices of their official offices.
Maureen McDonnell was also charged with obstructing the government’s investigation.
McDonnell, a Republican, last year repaid more than $120,000 to Williams and apologized for bringing “embarrassment” to the state. In a statement released Tuesday, he insisted he did not break the law and vowed to fight “these false allegations.”
“I deeply regret accepting legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of which have been repaid with interest, and I have apologized for my poor judgment, for which I take full responsibility,” McDonnell said. “However, I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship.”
Prosecutors charged that the gift-giving began even before McDonnell took office in 2010.
In December 2009, Williams offered to buy Maureen McDonnell an expensive Oscar de la Renta dress to wear to her husband’s inauguration. Maureen McDonnell ultimately rejected the dress after one of her husband’s staffers expressed concern about the arrangement. She wrote in an e-mail at the time that the McDonnell’s were “broke and have an unconscionable amount in credit card debt already.”