Bob McDonnell, former First Lady plead not guilty
RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR/CNN) – “C’mon guys, give us some respect.”
Bob McDonnell chided reporters who crowded the former Virginia governor and his wife as they exited the U.S. Federal Courthouse on East Broad Street in downtown Richmond Friday morning.
The McDonnells had just entered not guilty pleas to federal charges that they accepted illegal gifts. The judge released the McDonnells on their own recognizance and set trial for July 28.
The trial is expected to last five to six weeks. The defense is asking for 10 days to present its case and the prosecution asked for 15.
During the hearing, the judge sternly lectured the McDonnells to remain clear of the media prior to trial.
The McDonnells arrived at the courthouse about 9:15 a.m. They appeared before two judges Friday morning. At a 10 a.m. initial hearing, bond was discussed. An arraignment followed at 11 a.m.
Virginia House Speaker William Howwell (R – Stafford) and Del. Kirk Cox (R – Chesterfield) came to court Friday to support the former First Family.
“It’s great to have support of family and friends,” Bob McDonnell told Joe St. George outside of court.
About 1,000 feet.
The Executive Mansion on Capitol Square and the U.S. Federal Courthouse on East Broad Street in downtown Richmond sit just a few blocks apart.
For four years, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen called the Executive Mansion home. Today, the couple returned to the old neighborhood.
Earlier the week, the McDonnells were indicted in connection to their relationship with a political donor.
Following Tuesday’s indictment, Bob McDonnell maintained that he and his family did nothing illegal by accepting gifts and loans from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams.
“While I deeply regret accepting these legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of these now have been returned or repaid with interest.”
Reading from a prepared statement, McDonnell apologized for using “poor judgment” when he accepted “legal gifts and loans,” but said his public service has been wrongfully attacked.
The McDonnells 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 “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 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 had 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 check to his daughter for her wedding.
The indictment indicated the McDonnells “took steps throughout that time to conceal the scheme.”