Judge in McDonnell case: This feels like the longest day of my life


Nick Ochsner and Shelly Wilford, 13News Now

Posted on August 25, 2014 at 6:53 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 25 at 7:17 PM

Live coverage of the McDonnell trial

RICHMOND - Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell spent the majority of the day being cross examined by federal prosecutor Michael Dry, but the most dramatic testimony came Monday morning when he testified about his wife seeking counseling.

McDonnell admitted his wife, Maureen, received mental health counseling in 2012 and ultimately was prescribed medication.

The admission came after McDonnell told jurors last week that the couple decided against seeking counseling together.

Late last week lawyers for the former governor led him through 2½ days of his side of the story. On Monday, Maureen McDonnell's lawyers quizzed him, bringing out the counseling revelation.

When asked by Bill Burke, Maureen's lead attorney, whether his wife ever asked him to do anything for former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in return for gifts or anything of value, he replied, "No!"

The prosecution started asking their questions around noon.

"I've been preparing for this every day since you indicted me," Bob McDonnell told Michael Dry, the lead federal prosecutor.

Cross examination from Dry was a sparring match with the former governor that centered around McDonnell's finances rather that the story of his broken marriage.

Defense attorneys had argued that the marriage between McDonnell and Maureen had broken down to the point that  they couldn't have conspired to accept more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Williams for promoting his company's dietary supplements.

Dry's first line of questioning Monday centered around financial issues with MoBo, a real estate company McDonnell co-owns with his sister.

McDonnell testified that MoBo had difficulty refinancing beach properties that lost $40,000 to $60,000 a year since 2006, and developer and friend Bruce Thomson offered to try and find a "private solution."

Although he previously testified to the communication breakdown in his marriage, McDonnell said Monday he communicated with his wife about MoBo properties.

Dry pushed back on claims that the McDonnell's marriage had deteriorated to the point of dysfunction by showing the jury pictures of Bob and Maureen McDonnell holding hands outside of the courthouse on three different dates leading up to the trial.

The persecutor also asked McDonnell about 18 vacations he took with his wife in 22 months, stretching from March 2011 through January 2013.

McDonnell referred to them as trips -- not vacations -- and pointed out that many of them included family and some lasted just 24 hours.

Disclosure Reports

McDonnell spent late Monday afternoon discussing his Statement of Economic Interest forms. The form requires elected officials, candidates and some state employees to disclose any gifts, loans or stocks they've received or purchased in a calender year.

Jurors had already seen McDonnell's SOEIs for 2011 and 2012, but prosecutors presented his forms from 2009 and 2010, too.

Dry introduced the 2010 SOEI to show McDonnell reported a loan from a Virginia Beach doctor that he took out for the real estate company he co-owns with his sister but he personally guaranteed.  Dry compared the 2010 report with McDonnell's 2011 report, on which he didn't disclose the loan, despite the fact they still owed nearly $50,000.

Dry also asked McDonnell why he didn't disclose thousands of dollars worth of golf trips, clubs and accessories.  Last week, McDonnell said they weren't reported because of a breakdown in the system that the staff uses to track gifts but he reiterated Monday that it was ultimately his fault the gifts weren't reported.

The judge ended today's testimony by asking Dry if he was close to being finished and Dry said he was not.  The judge then looked at the jury and said, "Maybe it's just me, but does this feel like the longest day of your life?"

On Tuesday, McDonnell will be back on the stand for a fifth day.  Follow reporter @13NickOchsner who will be inside the courtroom.