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Former Governor Bob McDonnell and wife indicted on federal charges

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Posted at 3:33 PM, Jan 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-21 23:47:47-05

(CNN) -- Former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, once a rising star in the Republican Party who was considered potential presidential material, has been indicted along with his wife on federal charges of accepting illegal gifts.

The 14-count indictment, culminating a lengthy investigation of their relationship with a Virginia business executive, alleges honest services fraud, false statements, obstruction.

Gifts valued at a minimum of $140,000 in total included designer clothes, a Rolex watch, golf clubs, iPhones and a painting, according to a list of items included in the indictment.

McDonnell, who in a statement denied any illegal conduct and called the charges federal government overreach, was elected in 2009 and left office earlier this month after serving one term, which is the limit in Virginia.

The federal probe involved the relationship between the governor and his wife, Maureen, with Jonnie Williams, the chief executive of a troubled nutritional supplement company, Star Scientific.

Authorities allege that Williams gave gifts and loans to the first family of Virginia, and that they promoted his company.

In his statement, McDonnell admitted to poor judgment.

"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," he 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," he added.

McDonnell added that he "never promised - and Mr. Williams and his company never received" any "government benefit" from him or his administration.

"We did not violate the law," he said.

McDonnell's successor, Terry McAuliffe, issued his own statement after the charges were filed.

"As this case progresses, it is my sincerest hope that justice will be served and that Virginians get the answers to which they are entitled," he said. "As Governor, I will remain focused on leading this Commonwealth in a way that restores Virginians' trust in government and honors their expectation of transparency and accountability."

Click here to read the entire indictment.
Click here to watch McDonnell's full statement from a press conference on Tuesday evening

Investigators say McDonnell lied. The indictment charges the McDonnell's with 14 counts and claims that they accepted more than $135,000 in loans and gifts from Williams and also lied on loan applications and other documents.

Also in the indictment are emails from Maureen McDonnell that show she believed she could have Williams buy her a designer dress for the inauguration.

According to the indictment, a McDonnell staffer referred to only as "J.E." said that would not be proper. McDonnell then became angry with "J.E." and sent the following email:

Maureen McDonnell emailBoth Bob McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud, three counts of honest-services wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right, six counts of obtaining property under color of official right, and one count of making false statements to a federal credit union.

Bob McDonnell is also charged with an additional count of making a false statement to a financial institution, and Maureen McDonnell is charged with one count of obstruction of an official proceeding.

Their initial appearance and arraignment will be held this Friday in Richmond.

McDonnell released the following statement on Tuesday afternoon regarding the indictment:

"My fellow Virginians, earlier today federal prosecutors notified my attorneys that they have filed criminal charges against me and my wife Maureen, alleging that we violated federal law by accepting gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of Star Scientific. 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. However, I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship.  I never promised - and Mr. Williams and his company never received - any government benefit of any kind from me or my Administration. We did not violate the law, and I will use every available resource and advocate I have for as long as it takes to fight these false allegations, and to prevail against this unjust overreach of the federal government."