Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Virginia: Federal Jury Deliberates in Trial of VA Gov. Bob McDonnell, Wife, Maureen

According to The Associated Press, the public corruption case against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, is in the hands of a federal jury.
The seven-man, five-woman jury filed out of the courtroom to begin deliberations Tuesday (September 2) after hearing nearly two hours of instructions from US District Judge James S. Spencer. The jury heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed a mountain of exhibits over the past five weeks.
The McDonnells are charged with doing special favors for Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc., in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans.
Bob McDonnell testified he did nothing other than extend routine political courtesies to Williams. Maureen McDonnell did not testify.
Williams testified under immunity that he spent freely on the McDonnells only to secure help promoting his company's chief product, the anti-inflammatory Anatabloc. His immunity deal bars his prosecution not only for his dealings with the McDonnells, but also for possible securities fraud violations that were investigated by a separate grand jury.
COMMENT: I personally find corruption in office to be one of the most despicable offenses among so many, particularly where the alleged receipt of large sums of money is involved on the part of the defendants, which amounts to taking advantage of one's official duties to the detriment of their sworn integrity.
It is my hope that the jury reviews the evidence and adheres to their collective conscience.
Having spent a career as a federal agent, it is rare that prosecutors indict defendants unless the evidence is irrefutable.  
Judge Spencer told the jury that the testimony of a witness who is granted immunity must be more closely examined than testimony of other witnesses. The heightened scrutiny is required to determine whether the testimony of the immunized witness is "affected by self-interest."
The judge also walked the jury through the charges, including "honest services fraud" and conspiracy to commit such an offense.
"A conspiracy is, in a very true sense, a partnership in crime," Judge Spencer said.

This report will be updated once the jury renders its verdict.