GUILTY: McDonnells convicted on multiple counts

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by Nick Ochsner, 13News Now & Associated Press

WVEC.com

Posted on September 4, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 5 at 12:42 PM

RICHMOND -- Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen were found guilty of multiple counts including conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud in federal court Thursday.

Bob McDonnell faces anywhere from 67 to 84 years in prison and Maureen McDonnell faces 26 to 33 years.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW SENTENCING GUIDELINES

The verdict came after almost three days of deliberations. The couple both face mandatory minimum prison sentences. Sentencing is set for January 6 at 10 a.m. 

The former first couple were on trial for more than five weeks, accused of accepting more than $177,000 in gifts and loans from wealthy businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's product.

A federal grand jury indicted the couple on 14 counts of corruption, accepting bribes and obstructing an investigation in January;  just 10 days after Bob McDonnell left office.

"This is a difficult and disappointing day for the commonwealth and its citizens. Public service frequently requires sacrifice and almost always requires financial sacrifice," said Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Virginia.

The jurors all declined to speak to reporters as they left the courthouse through a back door.

"I just want to go home," said one unidentified juror.

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms spoke to 13News Now's LaSalle Blanks Thursday afternoon. Sessoms was a prosecution witness.

"My heart goes out to Bob and his family right now. I truly believe he is not a criminal, but I believe in the judicial system. I will not walk away from him. You don't walk away from a friend when they're down." Sessoms said.

READ THE INDICTMENT HERE

On counts one through four, in which the McDonnells were accused of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud and honest services wire fraud, Bob and Maureen McDonnell were found guilty on all counts, other than Maureen McDonnell who was found not guilty on count 4.

On counts five through 11, in which the McDonnells were accused of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right and obtaining property under color of official right, Bob and Maureen McDonnell were found guilty, other than counts 9 and 11 where Maureen was found not guilty.

On count 12, Bob McDonnell was found not guilty for making false statements on a personal financial statement that he submitted to TowneBank.

On count 13, Bob McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell were found not guilty for making false statements on a loan application that they submitted to Pentagon Federal Credit Union.

On count 14, Maureen McDonnell was found guilty for obstruction of a official proceeding for a letter she wrote to Jonnie Williams after she was questioned by law enforcement officials.

"This case sends an important message. The FBI will engage and engage vigorously in any (case) of public corruption," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Adam Lee in a short press statement.

The prosecution tried to show that the McDonnells were financially destitute and willing to sell the governor's office to help pay off credit cards debt and mortgages on beach properties. The McDonnells did not deny accepting gifts and loans from Williams but said they were not bribes.

LIVE COVERAGE BLOG: McDonnells found guilty

Williams was given immunity in both this case and a separate securities investigation in exchange for his testimony. Defense attorneys chiseled away at Williams’ credibility throughout the trial—including during closing arguments, when lawyers said Williams’ credibility is far less than that of Bob McDonnell’s own testimony.

The defense's case was built on the fact that the McDonnells' marriage was broken and, therefore, the couple couldn't have conspired because they weren't communicating. The McDonnells, who have been married for 38 years, had separate legal teams and came to the courthouse separately throughout the trial. During the trial, McDonnell told the jury that he had moved out of his house and was living with his parish priest.

At one time, Bob McDonnell was considered a rising star in the national Republican Party. The former Virginia attorney general had been chairman of the Republican Governors Association and was being considered as Mitt Romney's running mate in the 2012 presidential election.

By the time jury selection began Aug. 28, prosecutors gave Williams immunity in both this case and a separate securities investigation in exchange for his testimony.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement, "We have a long way to go to restore the public's trust after this embarrassing and difficult period for the Commonwealth of Virginia."

READ THE ENTIRE STATEMENT OF ATTORNEY GENERAL MARK HERRING ON MCDONNELL CONVICTION

 

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