RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Less than two weeks after leaving the governor’s mansion in Richmond, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife have been indicted in connection to their relationship with political donor Jonnie Williams Sr.
The former governor and First Lady Maureen McDonnell were indicted on a combined 14 counts including Honest-Services Wire Fraud, Obtaining Property under Color of Official Right, making False Statement, and Obstruction of Official Proceedings.
The McDonnells’ are summoned to appear in court for a bond hearing on Friday, at 10 a.m. The news first broke in the Washington Post, who has extensively covered the scandal beginning with allegations against former executive chef Todd Schneider.
In March 2012, CBS 6 reported that Schneider had left his position, as state police were looking into a reported allegation of “improprieties involving the kitchen operation at the governor’s mansion.”
Shortly after the chef’s attorney, Steve Benjamin, filed a motion for discovery to reveal operations of the mansion, which is when details began to emerge about the McDonnells’ relationship with Williams.
Last month the Washington Post reported the Justice Department chose to delay possible felony charges against McDonnell and his wife after the governor’s attorneys made an appeal in Washington.
To enable a smooth transition of power as Terry McAuliffe became governor, attorneys asked that if prosecutors were to file charges, that it happen after Jan. 11, according to the Washington Post. The former governor and his wife were indicted 10 days after McAuliffe’s Jan. 11 inauguration.
The McDonnells “participated in a scheme,” from April 2011 through March 2013, to use Bob McDonnell’s “official position as the Governor of Virginia to enrich the defendants and their family members by soliciting and obtaining payments, loans, gifts, and other things of value from JW [Johnnie Williams Sr.] and Star Scientific in exchange for Bob McDonnell and the Office of the Governor performing official actions on an as-needed basis, as opportunities arose, to legitimize, promote, and obtain research studies for Star Scientific’s products, including Anatabloc®,” according to the indictment
An earlier probe uncovered evidence that Williams has given the governor and his family more than $150,000 in gifts and loans over an 18-month period. Such gifts included Rolex watches, family vacations, loans for McDonnell’s real estate business, and even a $15,000 dollar check to his daughter for her wedding. [Scroll to the bottom for a complete list of items]
The indictment indicates the McDonnells “took steps throughout that time to conceal the scheme.”
“I am obviously troubled by the charges that federal prosecutors have made against Governor McDonnell and his wife Maureen and the message that this period in our history sends about how government in this Commonwealth is run,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said, in a statement sent to the press.
“This is a sad day for Virginia, but I remain optimistic that we can work together to reform our system in order to prevent episodes like this from occurring ever again,” the statement continued.
Virginia’s gift laws are some of the most lax in the country, although immediately after his inauguration, Gov. McAuliffe signed an executive order with new standards and definitions intended to prevent such scandals.
A bipartisan group of House members introduced an ethics reform proposal that would introduce a $250 cap on gifts from lobbyists or others with state business. The Such a reform would tighten law considered the laxest in the state but items such as food, travel and entertainment are excluded. Technically a member could still receive a $250 gift card daily from different lobbyist. That’s $91,250 at the end of the year.
The Virginia House Republican leadership expressed obvious disappointment in a statement to the media.
“We know that he has always strived to serve with the utmost conviction and integrity. Admittedly, he has made mistakes in judgment. He has apologized for those actions, which we know all Virginians deeply appreciate.”
“Today is a sad day for the Commonwealth of Virginia. If nothing else, this speaks to the urgent need for comprehensive ethics reform,” Sen. Donald McEachin (D – Henrico) said in a statement.
The 43-page indictment states that when Maureen McDonnell asked Williams for a $50,000 loan, on May 2, 2011, she told him that she could help Star Scientific but that she needed William’s financial assistance. [READ THE FULL INDICTMENT HERE: McDonnells' Indictment]
The indictment states that around May 9, 2011, a member of the governor’s staff reached out to the Secretary of Health about the Governor speaking at a Star Scientific event at the RosKamp Institute. Then on May 17, the First Lady entered a calendar event to attend the event. Five days later two checks were written to Maureen McDonnell.
One was for the $50,000 loan amount and the other was $15,000 with a memo annotation “wedding gift.” Prior to depositing those check, Maureen had $4,798 in her account.
The indictment chronicles a timeline of events, such as the McDonnells using Williams’ lake house and Ferrari.
The indictment consistently points out contributions from Williams, followed by promotion of Anatabloc. For example, at 7:47 p.m. July 31, Mrs. McDonnell emailed Williams a picture of Bob in the Ferrari.
Four hours later Mr. McDonnell sent an email to the Virginia Secretary of Health stating that he “would like to have [one of the Secretary of Health's Deputies] attend a short briefing at the mansion about 10 a.m. with first lady on the Star Scientific anatablock [sic] trials planned in Va. at VCU and UVA.”
A few hours after the indictment was released, Bob McDonnell gave a press conference that called the indictment an “unjust overreach of federal government.”
Property subject to forfeiture includes but is not limited to the following:
The sum of not less than $140,805.46;
Black Rebecca Minkoff shoes;
Black Louis Vuitton shoes;
White Louis Vuitton shoes;
Cream Louis Vuitton purse;
Cream Louis Vuitton wallet;
Silver Rolex Watch engraved with “71s1 Governor of Virginia”;
Yellow Peter Som dress;
Blue Armani jacket and two matching dresses;
Two Gold Oscar de la Renta dresses;
Black Louis Vuitton rain coat;
Gold Oscar de le Renta sweater;
One pair of Amelia Rose earrings;
One Gear sweatshirt;
Two pairs of Foot Joy golf shoes;
One button-down Ralph Lauren shirt;
One white Peter Millar golf shirt;
One baby blue striped Peter Millar golf shirt;
One royal blue Peter Millar golf shirt;
One aqua Fairway Greene Tech golf shirt;
One white striped Ralph Lauren golf shirt;
One Ping University of Virginia golf bag;
One Ping Kinloch golf bag;
One Sun Mountain Notre Dame golf bag;
Two sets of golf clubs;
One Heather Mackenzie water color and frame;
Two iPhones; and
30 boxes of Anatabloc®.