The ex-governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell has been sentenced to two years in prison on corruption charges. McDonnell, who was once on the fast track to the White House as a Vice Presidential candidate and Mitt Romeny’s right hand man, has been convicted of taking bribes along with his wife Maureen. Bribes such as jewelry and clothing and lavish vacations were taken by the couple reportedly to promote a get skinny quick pill.
The company which gave the bribes, Star Scientific, had nothing to say, but their former CEO did speak out via the charges, stating that the company took advantage of the couples marital problems and financial issues. The former Star employee stated that he continued to give the bribes in hopes of them promoting a new anti-inflammatory pill as a treatment for ulcers and other ailments. The lists of bribes was extensive and the ex-governor who represented himself in court could not deny the engraved watch he was given. McDonnell took full responsibility in court and said as much to the judge, stating he let things “get out of control.”
CEO Jonnie Williams, formerly with Star Scientific, was not only the star witness for the prosecution, but became a part of the trial in another way. McDonnell claims he begged his wife to work on their marriage and her out of control temper and that when she did not put forth effort he began to stay at the office later and later. This is when, he says, she became infatuated with Williams and thus their spiral into the life of corruption. Although the ex-governor maintains that he did nothing for Williams beyond expected and legal courtesies, he still was convicted on 11 counts of corruption.
Each side wanted drastically different punishments, as in most trials, with the prosecution pushing for ten years in prison while the defense pushed for community service. His wife did not testify and will be sentenced in February on her conviction of 8 counts of corruption. The strain in the marriage was played out during the trial with each arriving and leaving separately and each blaming the other for the acceptance of the bribes. McDonnell and his team were banking on the fact that the state of their marriage was in such disrepair that there was no way he could have conspired with her to take the gifts. The defense however brought out a picture of the couple at the pre-trial proceedings holding hands. McDonnell and his lawyers had a number of character witness’ testify that he was an honest man and federal prison was not warranted in this case, however, sentencing guidelines ran more to 10-15 years in prison, so community service was taken off the table completely.
Williams testified to giving over $40,000 worth of gifts to the couple and even their children, as part of the money spent was used on the McDonnell’s daughters wedding. Golf outings and vacations were had by all, including the couples sons. He even stated that he gave the ex-governor a Rolex watch worth over six thousand dollars and even had it engraved.
by Kristi Cereska