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Author Topic: VA Governor Robert McDonnell: Guilty  (Read 6713 times)
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« Reply #75 on: February 07, 2015, 07:11:52 AM »

Prosecutors Want Maureen McDonnell Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

According to court documents obtained Friday by News4, prosecutors recommended former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell spend at least 18 months in prison.

Her husband, former Va. Governor Bob McDonnell, had been sentenced to two years in prison, but will remain free during his appeals process. Court document say based on the decreased sentence her husband received, a similar decrease was applied in turn to Maureen McDonnell.

"Because Mrs. McDonnell was a full participant in a bribery scheme that sold the Governor’s office in exchange for luxury goods and sweetheart loans, many of which she solicited personally, and because she repeatedly attempted to thwart the investigation through false representations, it would be unjust for her not to serve a period of incarceration for her crimes," documents said.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were found guilty last year of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts, trips and loans from wealthy vitamin executive Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his products.
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« Reply #76 on: February 21, 2015, 05:43:35 AM »

Ex-Va. first lady gets prison term of a year and a day
By Matt Zapotosky

RICHMOND — Maureen McDonnell was sentenced Friday to a year and a day in federal prison after an emotional, hours-long hearing in which the former first lady of Virginia apologized publicly for the first time since she and her husband were accused of public corruption.

Reading from a prepared statement — her voice breaking — McDonnell acknowledged that she “started a chain of events that would bring embarrassment and pain on us all.” She said she had waited for the day when she could break her silence and asked U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer for mercy.

“Your honor, the cry of my heart is that I am sorry,” she said. “I blame no one but myself.”

Afterward, McDonnell embraced her husband, former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R), and he kissed her on the cheek. They left the courthouse separately; she made no comments, while he continued to assert their innocence.

“Sometimes juries get it wrong, and I believe with all my heart that the jury got it wrong in this case,” he said. “I look forward to aggressively pursuing this appeal.”

The McDonnells, both 60, were found guilty last year of conspiring to promote businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr.’s dietary supplement in exchange for $177,000 in loans, vacations and luxury goods. The case marked the first time in history a former Virginia governor or first lady was convicted of a crime.

Robert McDonnell was sentenced last month to two years in prison and has been allowed to remain free on bond while he appeals the case. Spencer allowed Maureen McDonnell, too, to remain free during her appeal.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is scheduled to hear arguments in Robert McDonnell’s case in May; the outcome almost certainly will affect the former first lady.

The legal process — which drew national attention — has been a painful one for the McDonnell family, but perhaps most acutely for its matriarch. Defense attorneys argued that the McDonnells’ marriage was broken and that the former first lady had developed something of a crush on Williams. They portrayed her as at times deceitful, at other times tyrannical, and often the driver of wrongdoing. Maureen McDonnell became close to Williams before her husband did, and she was the one who solicited some of the case’s most memorable gifts, including a New York City luxury clothing shopping spree and a Rolex watch for the governor.

Staffers who worked in the governor’s mansion said Maureen McDonnell was an intolerable boss; one acknowledged referring to her as a “nut bag.” Robert McDonnell testified that his wife ignored an entreaty to save their marriage. The McDonnells began living apart before the trial and are still doing so. They were indicted days after Robert McDonnell left office in 2013.

“It’s hard for me to imagine anything worse than what I’ve already endured,” Maureen McDonnell said during the sentencing.

At Friday’s hearing, eight witnesses painted an entirely different portrait of the former first lady.

This Maureen McDonnell was a kindhearted, generous person who cared above all about helping her husband succeed and building a strong family. She wanted to use her time as first lady to help others, particularly military families, but she was deeply uncomfortable with the public role and often anxious and overwhelmed.

“She didn’t want to let Bob down. She didn’t want to disappoint him,” said Mary Guy, a longtime friend who said that even as a young woman, McDonnell’s greatest ambition was to be a wife and mother.

“Houses, things, jewelry — they were never important to her,” Guy said. “If you ask me what I think she’s lost, she’s lost her life’s work.”

Rachel McDonnell, the couple’s daughter, said she learned about hard work from her mother, who had three part-time jobs when Rachel was an infant and Robert McDonnell was in law school. She said that her mother had not wanted her to testify but that she insisted on doing so to talk about her mother’s good traits.

Friends and family packed several rows of the federal courthouse in Richmond to show support for the former first lady, but the courtroom was noticeably less full than when the former governor was sentenced last month.

Then, supporters had formed a long line stretching down the seventh-floor hallway well before the hearing began, and even some close friends were relegated to an overflow room. All five of the couple’s children attended their father’s sentencing. Three attended their mother’s. Oldest daughter Jeanine Zubowsky, who gave birth to the couple’s first grandchild just weeks ago, did not attend. Nor did Sean McDonnell, one of their twin sons.

Lisa Kratz Thomas, a close friend who runs a program helping prisoners reenter society, said Maureen McDonnell has been humiliated by the events of the past year and rarely leaves her home. “She’s lost her dignity,” Thomas said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber argued that a prison sentence was required to show a skeptical public that corrupt politicians — and those who assist them — will be dealt with seriously. She said that Maureen McDonnell repeatedly asked Williams for money and gifts over two years.

“This was not a mistake. This was not a one-time lapse in judgment,” she said. “This was a crime of opportunistic greed.”

Before announcing a sentence, Spencer mused at length about the trial and the dual portraits of Maureen McDonnell that he was forced to reconcile. On one hand, he said, McDonnell was a loving mother and wife who made significant accomplishments as first lady. On the other hand, he said, some of the unflattering portrayals of her were not inaccurate.

“It’s difficult to get to the heart of who Mrs. McDonnell truly is,” Spencer said.

Spencer also highlighted the defense’s trial tactic of putting responsibility on the former first lady. That strategy, if successful, might have resulted in acquittals for her and her husband. Maureen McDonnell is not considered a public official, meaning if jurors thought she alone had a relationship with Williams, they probably would not have been able to convict anyone.

Spencer called that defense “curious” and termed it, “Let’s throw mama under the bus.” He also noted some family members’ efforts to pin responsibility on Maureen McDonnell during her husband’s sentencing, calling those sentiments, “Let’s throw mama off the train.”

Maureen McDonnell, though, did not shy from taking blame. She thanked Spencer for showing mercy on her husband — who had similarly asked the judge to show leniency to his wife — and referred, in particular, to a comment the judge made about her letting a “serpent” into the governor’s mansion.

“That is true, and the venom from that snake has poisoned my marriage, has poisoned my family and has poisoned the commonwealth that I love,” Maureen McDonnell said.

Defense attorneys asked that Maureen McDonnell be sentenced to probation and 4,000 hours of community service; prosecutors wanted a sentence of 18 months. The year-and-a-day term allows her to get 54 days knocked off for good behavior.

Randy Singer, Maureen McDonnell’s attorney, said that she, like her husband, would appeal. “We still believe in Maureen’s innocence, and we intend to seek her complete vindication,” he said.

Still, prosecutors, at least, hailed Friday’s outcome as a sort of conclusion to the case.

“Today’s sentencing brings to an end an unfortunate chapter in Virginia state government,” U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said, “and an opportunity to move forward here in the commonwealth.”

* Former_Governor_Trial-0590d.jpg (70.68 KB, 606x471 - viewed 68 times.)
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« Reply #77 on: February 21, 2015, 06:43:51 AM »

"hard for me to imagine anything worse than what I’ve already endured"

Really?  Spoken like a princess from the land of entitlement.  I can think of several things off the top of my head.  How about:
• contracting ebola
• losing a child
• losing life, limb, or a child in a totally unnecessary war
• losing your job and home due to protracted unemployment
• losing your home to superstorm Sandy or hurricane Katrina
• I could go on...

This woman is so delusional it is laughable.  She gets a man (who is not her husband) to take her on a $20,000 luxury shopping spree even as that man tried to curry favor from her husband the governor yet she thinks she did nothing wrong.

And what about those kids?  They were old enough to know that what they were doing was wrong.  Receiving gift after gift and shopping trips knowing full well that they were not paying for any of it.... and mommy and daddy were not paying for any of it... but they never stopped to wonder if they would be getting all this largess if their father was not the governor?  They deserve a few months in jail and probation as well. Angry
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« Reply #78 on: March 19, 2015, 04:09:57 PM »

What Maureen McDonnell would have said, if the governor had his own trial
By Matt Zapotosky

Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell was prepared to tell a jury that she assiduously hid her financial dealings with a Richmond area businessman from her husband because she feared Robert F. McDonnell would put a stop to them, but she was only willing to testify if she and the onetime governor were given separate trials, according to court papers.

The scenario, of course, is purely hypothetical. The affidavit, made public Wednesday, was prepared nearly a year ago when the couple were seeking to sever their trials — a request denied by U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer. Maureen McDonnell remained silent until the day she was sentenced.

But if a judge had agreed, Maureen McDonnell would have taken the stand at her husband’s trial and supported virtually every aspect of his defense, according to the affidavit. Sometimes gift by gift and action by action, she would have spoken of how she accepted lavish gifts and loans from Jonnie R. Williams Sr. and invoked her husband’s name to help Williams’s business interests — without the former governor ever knowing about it, according to the affidavit.

The McDonnells ultimately were convicted of public corruption for their dealings with Williams, after jurors concluded they conspired to use the governor’s office to help advance Williams’s dietary supplement company in exchange for $177,000 in loans, gifts and luxury goods. Robert McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison, and his wife to a year and a day.

The declaration from William Burck, Maureen McDonnell’s defense attorney, is now a part of Robert McDonnell’s appeal. Among other things, the former governor is arguing that Spencer erred when he refused to order separate trials.

Maureen McDonnell has yet to detail the specific grounds on which she intends to appeal, though her attorneys did not object to unsealing the declaration and have indicated that the ruling against separate trials could also be a part of their case.

Even when they shared a defense table, attorneys for both Robert and Maureen McDonnell cast the former first lady as the driver of many dealings with Williams — an oft-talked about strategy that some have criticized as throwing Maureen McDonnell under the bus. But Maureen McDonnell would have been a powerful witness to support the former governor’s account. And the affidavit, signed March 25 last year, shows that she was willing to shoulder much of the blame long before the trial.

To be sure, jurors heard plenty of evidence that linked Robert McDonnell and Williams directly. The former governor enjoyed golf outings on Williams’s tab, and he took steps to help Williams — asking his health secretary to meet with the businessman, for example, and once pulling out a bottle of Anatabloc, Williams’s supplement, during a meeting with state human resource officials and touting its benefits.

But Maureen McDonnell could have buttressed key cogs of the former governor’s defense. She would have testified, for example, that “she and her husband were suffering significant marital communications problems during Mr. McDonnell’s term as Governor,” and that Williams “filled a void that she was feeling in her life, as he gave her both gifts and attention,” according to the affidavit.

Maureen McDonnell would have asserted that she never told Robert McDonnell that Williams funded much of a high-end shopping spree in New York City in April 2011, and she would have said she did not tell Robert McDonnell about a $50,000 loan that Williams gave her until after she had spent the money, according to the affidavit.

Of the Rolex watch, Maureen McDonnell would have said she told her husband it was a gift from “Santa,” and he did not learn it really came from Williams until March 2013 — when the investigation was well in hand, according to the affidavit.

Maureen McDonnell also would have testified that she invoked her husband’s name — without his approval — when e-mailing a member of his staff to check on studies that Williams wanted, according to the affidavit. And she would have testified that she told her staff that her husband wanted gift bags at a National Governors Association event to be stuffed with samples of Williams’s dietary supplement, Anatabloc, even though Robert McDonnell knew nothing about it, according to the affidavit.

If jurors had believed Maureen McDonnell had her own relationship with Williams — and she did not act in concert with her husband — it would have laid a path to acquittal. That is because Maureen McDonnell is not considered a public official, and prosecutors had to demonstrate that she and Robert McDonnell conspired to sell the governor’s office.

According to the affidavit, Maureen McDonnell was unwilling to testify at their joint trial because she feared a tangential obstruction charge that she faced alone, according to the affidavit. The former first lady figured that testifying about deceiving her husband might damage her credibility, and jurors would then convict her of obstruction, according to the affidavit. Jurors ultimately convicted her of that count anyway, but Spencer threw it out after the trial for technical, legal reasons.

The affidavit would not have bound Maureen McDonnell to take the stand if Spencer had separated the trials, and perhaps the notion of her testifying is pure fantasy. Burck indicated that though Maureen McDonnell was willing to testify at her husband’s trial, she would invoke her Fifth Amendment rights at her own.

That would have created an interesting quirk. If the former governor was tried first, prosecutors might have been able to use a transcript of Maureen McDonnell’s testimony at her trial, according to the affidavit. But Burck wrote that the former first lady felt the “negative impact” of that would be less than jurors hearing her in person.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia declined to comment for this article. Lawyers for Robert and Maureen McDonnell could not immediately be reached.

* Former_Governor_Trial_Key_Players-0c272.jpg (297.56 KB, 1484x1095 - viewed 29 times.)
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