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Key players in former governor's corruption case

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Here are some of the key players in the federal corruption case against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen McDonnell. Their trial begins Monday.

BOB McDONNELL: The 71st governor of Virginia was a rising star in the Republican Party and was widely considered a possible running mate for presidential candidate Mitt Romney before his indictment. McDonnell rose to power as a social conservative but also made a mark as a job-creating consensus builder. His signature accomplishment was winning bipartisan approval of the first major overhaul of state transportation funding in 25 years. One of his other legislative priorities — privatization of state-run liquor stores — was resoundingly rejected. A lawyer and former Army medical supply officer, McDonnell served in the House of Delegates and as state attorney general before easily defeating Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds in the 2009 gubernatorial election.

MAUREEN McDONNELL: The third of nine children born to an FBI agent and a stenographer, she followed her parents into civil service and handled security clearances for the State Department before meeting her future husband at a party in 1973. They were married three years later at Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia, and she gave birth to the first of their five children in 1981. The one-time Washington Redskins cheerleader dabbled in a variety of money-making ventures, such as selling vitamin supplements and skin-care products, to help support the family while her husband worked as an assistant prosecutor in Virginia Beach. As first lady, she oversaw governor's mansion renovations that included refinishing floors and restoring ceilings, but had strained relations with mansion staffers that prompted several to threaten to resign.

JONNIE R. WILLIAMS: Expected to be the government's star witness, Williams is a one-time car salesman from Fredericksburg, Virginia, whose subsequent entrepreneurial efforts have had mixed results. An optical business he founded collapsed after a fine for fitting contact lenses without a license. He paid $295,000 to settle federal regulators' allegations that he used bogus research to promote the stock of an eye ointment company in which he held an interest. But he successfully invested in other companies, including the maker of laser vision-correction systems that eventually became part of Abbott Laboratories. A company he founded to develop a less harmful type of cigarettes lost money later became the dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc., which is at the center of the McDonnell case.

TODD SCHNEIDER: The former governor's mansion chef, fired amid an investigation of alleged improprieties in the mansion's kitchen operations. He provided information to authorities that helped fuel the case against the McDonnells. Williams paid Schneider $15,000 to cater the wedding reception of one of the couple's daughters. Schneider, facing felony embezzlement charges that he took food from the kitchen for use by his catering business, eventually pleaded no contest to reduced charges and was ordered to pay $2,300 in restitution.

MARY SHEA SUTHERLAND: Maureen McDonnell's former chief of staff was trying to get Williams to hire her away from the state job, according to court papers. Defense attorneys submitted to the court an unsigned $9,000-a-month contract between Williams and a now defunct public relations firm listing Sutherland as the lead consultant. A job with Williams never came through, but she quit anyway in 2011. Sutherland's dealings with Williams are expected to come into play as the defense tries to undermine Williams' credibility.

MICHAEL S. DRY: The assistant U.S. attorney and lead prosecutor in the McDonnell trial has obtained convictions in some complex and high-profile white-collar cases, including some involving the perpetrators of a life insurance scam that swindled investors nationwide out of millions of dollars. He handled securities and corporate fraud cases in the Eastern Division of Virginia before becoming deputy criminal chief in February 2012.

JOHN BROWNLEE: The former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia heads the Holland & Knight law firm's white-collar defense team and leads a large McDonnell legal contingent. Brownlee was an assistant federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia for five years before his seven-year stint in western Virginia. His cases included successful prosecution of the maker of the painkiller OxyContin on charges of misleading the public about its risk of addiction, and of ITT for illegally sending overseas classified night-vision technology used by the U.S. military. He wanted to succeed McDonnell as attorney general in 2009 but lost the GOP nomination to Ken Cuccinelli.

WILLIAM BURCK: He represented President George W. Bush and prosecuted Martha Stewart — and now he's representing Maureen McDonnell. Burck was an assistant federal prosecutor in New York before becoming special counsel and deputy counsel to Bush, advising the president on the 2008 financial crisis and an array of other issues. As the top white collar defense attorney for the Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan law firm in Washington, Burck is representing former PetroTiger CEO Joseph Sigelman in a public corruption case. He represented former Swiss banker Andreas Bachmann, who pleaded guilty in March to helping U.S. citizens evade taxes.

JAMES R. SPENCER: This will be the senior U.S. district judge's biggest case in his 28 years on the bench. He has mostly ruled against the McDonnells on pretrial matters, notably rejecting their request for separate trials. He served as an assistant federal prosecutor before President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the federal judgeship in 1986. Spencer presided over a high-profile patent infringement lawsuit by the maker of the BlackBerry and the 2003 political eavesdropping case of former state GOP executive director Ed Matricardi, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation. When Matricardi's attorney claimed his client listened in on Democrats conducting public business, Spencer cut him off and said "don't try to dodge blame, because if you do, you're going to tick me off." Spencer holds a divinity degree and a black belt in karate. His wife, Margaret Spencer, is a Richmond Circuit Court judge who presided over Schneider's embezzlement case.

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