News Column

Judge denies McDonnells' motions for acquittal

August 15, 2014

By Bill Sizemore, The Virginian-Pilot



The judge in the federal corruption trial of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, refused today to throw out any of the 14 charges in the case.

After prosecutors finished presenting their evidence Thursday, the McDonnells' attorneys submitted motions for an immediate acquittal, arguing that the government had failed to prove its case.

After hearing arguments from both sides this morning, U.S. District Judge James Spencer denied the defense motions.

That means the trial will proceed as scheduled, with the McDonnells' defense teams putting on their case beginning Monday. The former governor's attorneys have said he will testify.

The McDonnells are charged with soliciting more than $177,000 in off-the-books loans, lavish gifts and luxury vacations from businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his diet supplement business from the governor's mansion.

In addition to the corruption charges, both McDonnells are charged with making false statements on bank loan papers and Maureen McDonnell is charged with obstructing the police investigation into the couple's activities.

Ryan Newman, one of the former governor's attorneys, argued today that when McDonnell helped Williams gain access by arranging meetings for him with state officials and hosting a luncheon at the governor's mansion where Williams' product was prominently featured, he was not performing "official" acts for which he could be convicted.

If every such act by an elected official were prosecuted, Newman said, "it would revolutionize American politics."

Newman also argued that in the end, Williams didn't get much for his money. The clinical trials he was seeking for his product at state medical schools never happened.

Prosecutor Ryan Faulconer responded that Williams failed to achieve his objective only because lower-level state officials who received no favors from the businessman refused to cooperate with him.


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