Sessoms takes stand to end day 12 of McDonnell corruption trial

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by Nick Ochsner, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 8:54 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 12 at 8:56 PM

RICHMOND -- Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms took the stand late Tuesday afternoon to close out day 12 of the federal corruption trial against former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.

 
The McDonnells face 14 charges between them, most of which focus on corruption. But they also face one count each of making a false statement on loan documents.
 
Prosecutors allege the former first couple failed to disclose loans from Jonnie Williams—the wealthy Virginia businessman whose gifts, cash and loans are at the center of this trial—when they filed out personal financial statements to renew loans taken out from Towne Bank, where Sessoms is a president.
 
McDonnell took out two loans from Towne Bank together with his sister, whose name is also Maureen, to purchase two rental houses in Sandbridge.
 
The first loan came in September 2005 for $249,990. The second loan, for $722,550, was taken out as an interest-only loan in March 2006. Combined, the two loans total nearly $1 million.
 
Prosecutors walked Sessoms through loan documents that showed McDonnell and his sister had a hard time keep up with payments on the loans. Documents showed that the pair incurred late fees at least 18 times on the smaller loan and 29 times on the larger loan.
 
Sessoms testified that McDonnell told him the rental income from the houses had been less than expected and was not enough to cover the monthly mortgage payments. Sessoms also said McDonnell asked him about refinancing the loans for longer-term, lower-interest deals several times.
 
Finally, in 2011, McDonnell refinanced the larger of the two loans into a new agreement that required payments to be made on the interest and principle of the loan. The new loan also had to be renewed each year.
 
In order to renew the loan each year, McDonnell had to submit personal financial statements. Prosecutors showed jurors McDonnell’s personal financial statement for 2012 which listed $2.075 in liabilities but did not specifically mention the $50,000 loan Williams had made to Maureen or the $70,000 in loans Williams had made to MoBo Realty, the company former to own and manage Sandbridge properties.
 
Sessoms’ testimony is key to nailing down the false statement charges against the McDonnells. Sessoms has said repeatedly that he will tell the truth on the stand and answer the question as best he can.
 
He looked a bit uneasy as he took the stand late Tuesday. That’s not surprising for a man who said he was ready to get his testimony over with as he walked into court.
 
“I just look forward to getting there, getting those questions, answering them truthfully and getting back to Virginia Beach,” Sessoms told 13News Now before entering the courthouse on Tuesday afternoon.
 
Sessoms also said he was worried about McDonnell, his friend of roughly 30 years. On the stand Tuesday, Sessoms testified that he and McDonnell first met shortly after he had won a spot on the Virginia Beach City Council and while McDonnell was running for the House of Delegates.
 
“To sit back and say that it’s not very concerning, I’d be lying,” Sessoms said of the trial. “You know, there’s a dear friend up there that is on trial and what I’m hearing is quite concerning.”
 
Court adjourned early on Tuesday and Sessoms’ testimony will resume on Wednesday morning with cross examination by defense attorneys.
 
Follow reporter Nick Ochsner, who is in the courtroom, for updates on Twitter @13NickOchsner.
 

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