Ex-Va. Governor McDonnell, Wife Charged in Gift Scandal

4:25 PM, Jan 21, 2014   |    comments
Bob McDonnell (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted Tuesday for illegally accepting gifts and loans from a political donor.

The charges against the couple were outlined in a document filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, which detail how McDonnell and his wife accepted more than $135,000 in gifts and loans, trips and other items from Jonnie Williams Sr., former CEO of Star Scientific

The 14-count indictment, filed on Tuesday, charges McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, with a wide array of official corruption.

McDonnell, a Republican, last year repaid more than $120,000 to Williams and apologized for bringing "embarrassment" to the state. In a statement released Tuesday, he insisted he did not break the law and vowed to fight "these false allegations."

"I deeply regret accepting legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of which have been repaid with interest, and I have apologized for my poor judgment, for which I take full responsibility," McDonnell said in a statement released Tuesdasy. "However, I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship."

Prosecutors charged that the gift-giving began even before McDonnell took office in 2010.

In December, 2009, Williams offered to buy Maureen McDonnell an expensive Oscar de la Renta dress to wear to her husband's inauguration. Maureen McDonnell ultimately rejected the dress after one of her husband's staffers expressed concern about the arrangement. She wrote in an e-mail at the time that the McDonnell's were "broke and have an unconscionable amount in credit card debt already."

The indictment goes on to detail trips aboard a jet owned by Star Scientific's CEO and private dinners at the governor's mansion in Richmond.

McDonnell, once touted as a potential presidential contender, has been out of office for only a few weeks. Virginia voters elected Democrat Terry McAuliffe to succeed McDonnell, who could not run for a consecutive term.

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