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Policy: Law

Former Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell, wife found guilty on corruption counts

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Politics,Virginia,Watchdog,Governor,PennAve,Kelly Cohen,Follow the Money,Bob McDonnell,Law

The soap-opera-like trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, came to an end Thursday, with both McDonnells being found guilty of multiple corruption charges.

The verdicts — he was found guilty on 11 corruption counts, she was found guilty on eight — brought to an end the political career of a man who was once talked-about as a possible presidential contender.

It also ended an ugly, personal, public inspection of the McDonnells' private life that had riveted Virginians during the five-week trial.

The McDonnells were accused of accepting nearly $200,000 worth of various gifts and trips from the former CEO of a dietary supplement company in exchange for promoting the firm's anti-inflammatory product.

Out of the trial, held in federal court in Richmond, spilled intimate details of the governor's office and private quarters: Both defenses tried to portray the couple's marriage as falling apart. Witnesses suggested a lonely Maureen McDonnell had been showered with attention from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, a relationship that led to the illegal transactions. Meanwhile, some witnesses seemed to suggest Maureen McDonnell was mentally unstable and drove the governor's staff crazy with her controlling manner.

Bob McDonnell testified in his own defense, but his wife did not.

The former governor, who served from 2010-13 and who was indicted with his wife in January, had earlier rejected an offer by prosecutors to plead guilty to one felony fraud charge. Maureen McDonnell would have not been charged in the plea deal.

More than 65 witnesses and 3.5 million of pages of documents were presented during the five-week trial. The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for three days before making its decision.

Williams testified under immunity from the prosecution.

In addition to the corruption counts, Maureen McDonnell was also found guilty on one count of obstruction of justice.

Bob McDonnell was found not guilty on the most serious count he faced, that of making false statements to a bank.

The McDonnells are slated to be sentenced Jan. 6.

"If there was somehow still any doubt," Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement following the verdicts Thursday, "it should be crystal clear that the people of Virginia deserve real ethics reform that will turn off the spigot of gifts, tickets, and trips that opens the door to abuse and undermines public confidence in our government."

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