"Today's sentencing brings to an end an unfortunate chapter in Virginia state government, and an opportunity to move forward here in the Commonwealth," U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said. "I would like to thank the trial team, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, and the Virginia State Police for their efforts in this matter."
Maureen McDonnell was convicted on eight of 13 corruption-related counts when her trial, which lasted several weeks last summer, concluded September 4, 2014. Bob McDonnell was convicted on 11 of 13 counts during the same trial. He was sentenced to 24 months in prison.
The government outlined its case in a statement released following the sentencing hearing:
According to the evidence presented at trial, from April 2011 through March 2013, the McDonnell’s participated in a scheme to use the former governor’s official position to enrich themselves and their family members by soliciting and obtaining payments, loans, gifts and other things of value from Star Scientific and Jonnie R. Williams Sr. The McDonnell’s obtained these items in exchange for the former governor performing official actions to legitimize, promote and obtain research studies for Star’s products, including the dietary supplement Anatabloc.
According to evidence presented at trial, the McDonnell’s obtained from Williams more than $170,000 in direct payments as gifts and loans, thousands of dollars in golf outings, and numerous items. As part of the scheme, Robert McDonnell arranged meetings for Williams with Virginia government officials, hosted and attended events at the Governor’s Mansion designed to encourage Virginia university researchers to initiate studies of Star’s products and to promote Star’s products to doctors, contacted other Virginia government officials to encourage Virginia state research universities to initiate studies of Star’s products, and promoted Star’s products and facilitated its relationships with Virginia government officials.
The evidence further showed that the McDonnell’s attempted to conceal the things of value received from Williams and Star to hide the nature and scope of their dealings with Williams from the citizens of Virginia by, for example, routing gifts and loans through family members and corporate entities controlled by the former governor to avoid annual disclosure requirements.
The day started off with former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell saying he hoped the judge would show mercy on his wife during her sentencing hearing Friday. The hearing began at 9 a.m. in federal court in downtown Richmond. The McDonnells arrived to court separately. Maureen McDonnell said nothing on her way into the hearing.
Before the hearing
Bob McDonnell spoke briefly to members of the media covering the sentencing hearing.
"It's up to the judge," the former governor said when asked what kind of punishment he expected his wife to receive. "He was gracious to me and hopefully that trend of mercy will continue."
The government had requested Maureen McDonnell serve 18 months in prison after her conviction on multiple corruption counts last year. The charges stemmed from gifts and money she and then-Governor Bob McDonnell received from local businessman Jonnie Williams.
The 18-month prison sentence recommendation was based on the fact Judge James Spencer went well below the sentencing guidelines for the former governor. Bob McDonnell, who was sentenced to 24-months in prison, attended Friday's sentencing hearing for his wife.
"I am glad to be here to support my wife today," Bob McDonnell said walking into court. "I'll be glad when this chapter is over at the trial court level and we can begin to pursue the appeal in earnest."
In papers filed with the court, the attorneys of Mrs. McDonnell asked that she be placed on probation and sentenced to 4,000 hours of community service. If she was to work 40 hours a week, it would take two years for her to complete that sentence.
"My mom has faced public humiliation beyond anything I could have imagined," Rachel McDonnell, her youngest daughter wrote in a letter to the judge.
“This experience has been so painful for my whole family,” Cailin McDonnell, another daughter, wrote.
McDonnell's lawyers have requested she serve half of it at home and the other half in a facility close to Richmond.