Local ⋅ Live Blog

Live updates: McDonnell guilty of corruption

Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell wades through several members of the media after being found guilty of corruption at the federal courthouse in Richmond on Thursday. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell wades through several members of the media after being found guilty of corruption at the federal courthouse in Richmond on Thursday. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Jurors in the public corruption trial of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, have found the couple guilty of several corruption counts. The McDonnells faced a 14-count indictment that alleged that they lent the prestige of the governor’s office to a Richmond area businessman and that, in exchange, the businessman lavished them with gifts and money.

 Quiz: 10 questions | Interactive: McDonnell gifts list | Bob vs. Jonnie | Twitter: Latest | Previous days: The trial | Indictment

Summing up the McDonnell verdict

We’ll be closing down our live blog for the evening, but we want to offer you this summary of today’s events in the McDonnell corruption trial. While we know the verdict — Robert McDonnell guilty of 11 charges; Maureen McDonnell guilty of nine, we will have to wait until the couple’s sentencing Jan. 6 to know what their fate will be. The couple could face decades in federal prison, though their actual sentence could fall well short of that.

The jury of seven men and five women spent nearly three days deliberating before announcing a verdict that left members of the McDonnell family in tears. The verdict, writes The Post’s Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind S. Helderman, sends a message that jurors, ” . . . believed the couple sold the office once occupied by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson to a free spending Richmond businessman for golf outings, lavish vacations and $120,000 in sweetheart loans.”

Note: the jury did acquit the couple of several charges pending against them — both were acquitted of lying on loan documents — but the verdict means, jurors thought the McDonnell’s lent the prestige of the governor’s office to former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in a nefarious exchange for his largesse.

The verdict also means that Robert McDonnell, who was already the first governor in Virginia history to be charged with a crime and the first ever to be convicted of one.

For the latest updates on the trial click here.

McDonnell colleagues speak out

Del David Albo (R-Fairfax) said he was surprised by the verdict.

“I’m really disappointed,” he said. “I think it’s a stunner because we know Bob McDonnell and we know he is the nicest guy and there’s not a dishonest bone in his body.”

Albo said the news hit him even harder because McDonnell is a personal friend.

“I’ve never had a friend of mine get busted for a crime,” he said. “Before this trial I never would have thought that setting up a meeting would be an official act for the purposes of this statute. So as I said before the laws need to more specific.”

As a trial lawyer analyzing the outcome, Albo said he believes McDonnell’s defense also was battling not just the specific charges against the former governor and his wife but the public’s low opinion of politicians in general. “Unfortunately, I don’t think average people have very high opinions of politicians,” Albo said.

Albo also said lawmakers must make the laws on gifts more clear.

“No one is condoning a $15,000 gift for a wedding,” Albo said. “[But] prior to today, I wouldn’t have thought it was illegal. In my opinion, we’re going to have to do some serious working to figure out what the law is.”

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), who has known McDonnell since they served in Virginia’s House of Delegates, expressed sorrow at the guilty verdict.

“All of us have done those things we ought not to do,” said Griffith, who entered the legislature a year after McDonnell. “I never would have thought he would come close to doing something illegal. The Bob I know might have made mistakes, but it’s not a part of his core. He’s still a friend.”

Griffith cautioned that despite the verdict, the case was not over, owing to an expected appeal.  Griffith, too, said the McDonnells’ conviction should cause state lawmakers to revisit the rules on accepting gifts.

“Virginia is going to have to take a look at it, to make sure the rules are clear.”

Maureen McDonnell simply silent

The Post’s Petula Dvorak reminds us in her column that Robert McDonnell had a chance to make a deal that would have spared his wife any charges. Instead, he moved forward with a trial that put the family’s private life and conflicts on full public display. Through it all, Maureen McDonnell said noting.

Petula writes:

“Maureen McDonnell, having uttered not a single word in court for five weeks, stepped into a car and rode away from the crowd a newly convicted felon, still silent.

Her husband, who made history as the first Virginia governor to stand trial and to be convicted, stopped to thank the news media after the verdict Thursday afternoon. Still working the crowd, that guy.”

She adds:

“After 24 hours on the witness stand and one the biggest public displays of wife-shaming in memory, former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) didn’t save himself. Or his wife.

He had the chance last year to man up and spare his wife and family all this. Prosecutors offered him a single count of fraud that avoided all mention of corruption and any charges against his wife.

But McDonnell decided to gamble. And everyone lost.”

Read more of Petula’s thoughts on the McDonnell verdict.

Va.'s Democratic party: "Truly saddened . . ."

Robert Dempsey, executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, released this statement about the McDonnell verdict:

“We need to hold our elected leaders to the highest possible ethical standards in order for the people of Virginia to trust in the administration of our Commonwealth’s government. We are truly saddened by this outcome, but it is our sincere hope we can put this episode behind us and move the Old Dominion State forward.”

Juror: 'We knew the decision we had to make'

“It was extremely emotional. It was a difficult process and a thought out process and we had a really hard time,” said a female juror who lives near Richmond and asked not to be identified.

Then she paused.

“It was a tough decision, but it was not a hard decision,” she said. “It was a tough decision to make because of the governor’s 20-plus years of service to the country and to the Commonwealth. It was hard and tough to see his family go through that. But when it came down to brass tacks, we knew the decision we had to make. ”

This juror said that the jury’s process involved taking a preliminary check of everyone’s temperature when they got back to the jury room. There was arguing, she said, but no firm set camps.

Jurors then went through all of the charges individually and tried to corroborate each one with the evidence that they had. They did not convict Maureen on all the corruption charges, she said, because the evidence was not there that she was involved in them as it was for her husband.

She said they did not convict on bank fraud because they believed the loans were left off to conceal the relationship with Williams, not to influence the bank.

Proud to have worked for McDonnell


Tucker Martin was former Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s communications director. He was among several former McDonnell’s staffers called to testify as part of the corruption case.

McDonnell an issue in Pa. Gov.'s race

The verdict in former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s corruption case is rippling beyond Virginia. A political action committee started by the Democratic opponent of the current Republican governor in Pennsylvania is attempting to make it an issue in their race.

Shortly after the verdict was announced, The Campaign for a Fresh Start sent out an e-mail blast calling on Gov. Tom Corbett (R) and the Pennsylvania Republican Party to return all contributions received from McDonnell. The PAC, founded by Tom Wolf, the Democratic businessman trying to unseat Corbett, noted that McDonnell held at least three fundraisers for Corbett in the past, including an event that raised an estimate $430,000 for Corbett during his first campaign for governor.

McDonnell, Wolf’s PAC noted, also headlined the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s 2013 Lincoln Day Fundraising Dinner.

In an email, Megan Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Republican Party said only that the party had no received any contributions from McDonnell. A spokesman for Corbett’s campaign said the campaign had also not received any contributions from the former Virginia governor in this election cycle.

Said the e-mail: “By keeping the money McDonnell raised for them, Corbett and the Pennsylvania Republican Part are condoning corruption – it’s as simple as that.”

We have reached out to Corbett’s campaign and the Pennsylvania Republican Party for comment.

Remembering the plea deal that wasn't

This is just a reminder that last year, prosecutors gave then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell a chance to avoid any charges for his wife. Maureen McDonnell’s attorney told federal prosecutors that she felt responsible for the situation and asked if there was a way to avoid any charges for her husband.

As Rosalind S. Helderman and Carol D. Leonnig reported, the prosecutors suggested something else:

Instead, months later, authorities proposed that then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell plead guilty to one felony fraud charge that had nothing to do with corruption in office and his wife would avoid charges altogether.

McDonnell rejected the offer. Robert and Maureen McDonnell were jointly charged in January.

The Fix on McDonnell's stunning fall

“Politicians: They’re just like us — for better and, in this case, worse,” writes The Fix’s Chris Cillizza in his piece reflecting former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell’s stunning rise and fall over just two years from vice-presidential short list to late-night punchline.

Recalls Cillizza:

“In March 2012, I ranked the 10 most likely Republican vice presidential picks for GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Bob McDonnell ranked second on that list. Today — roughly two and a half years later — the former Virginia governor was found guilty on 11 charges of public corruption tied to he and his wife’s relationship with a donor named Jonnie R. Williams Sr.”

He adds:

What’s even more remarkable for me than McDonnell’s collapse, however, is the combination of stupidity, avarice and total political blindness that led him to this day.

Read more of The Fix’s thoughts on McDonnell’s rise and fall on Post Politics.

'Public service frequently requires sacrifice'

Reacting after the verdict, U.S. Attorney Dana Boente repeated a sentiment prosecutor Michael Dry said in his final pitch to jurors.

“This was a just difficult and disappointing day for the commonwealth and it’s citizens,” Boente told the media outside the courthouse. “Public service frequently requires sacrifice and almost always requires financial sacrifice. When public officials turn to financial gain in exchange for official acts, we have little choice but to prosecute the case.”

Richmond FBI Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Lee thanked those who had worked on the case and said, “I think this case sends an important message that the FBI will engage and engage vigorously to any credible allegation of corruption.”

Va. Senate majority leader's statement

Virginia Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) issued the following statement:

“It is with disappointment, for the McDonnell family and the people of Virginia, that the trial of Bob and Maureen McDonnell has concluded with verdicts of ‘guilty.’ The past six weeks have been gut-wrenching, with media accounts occasionally bordering on the prurient. While I do not personally agree with this verdict or the decision by the Department of Justice to prosecute the McDonnells, my respect for our system of jurisprudence remains. The Commonwealth and the McDonnell family have suffered greatly during this investigation and trial. Virginia politics will be forever changed from this experience, and I look forward to all of us being able to move on and move forward.”

“Governor McDonnell served Virginia with distinction, leading the Commonwealth through challenging times while amassing an impressive record of accomplishments that will endure long beyond his four-year term. He distinguished himself as a productive and prolific member of the General Assembly and an accomplished Attorney General. Ultimately, the ordeal of this trial should not diminish that record.”

“My thoughts and prayers today are with the entire McDonnell family. The families of elected public officials often must endure the rigors and scrutiny of a public life they neither sought nor desired. Former First Lady Maureen McDonnell and the McDonnell children have borne a burden that accompanies being part of a family that includes a public figure. With this trial concluded, and as the McDonnells explore their legal options, I hope their right to privacy will be respected by all.”

Norment’s district includes Gloucester, King and Queen, King William and New Kent counties and the City of Poquoson, and portions of Isle of Wight, James City, Surry and York counties, and the cities of Hampton and Suffolk.

McDonnell attorney vows to appeal

Surrounded by reporters as he left the courthouse, Robert F. McDonnell defense attorney Henry “Hank” Asbill said he “didn’t expect” the verdict.

“I’m obviously very disappointed,” he said. “We will appeal.”

McDonnells get into separate cars as they leave

Robert F. and Maureen McDonnell left the courthouse at the same time, getting into separate cars as they left.

Maureen said nothing as she was whisked out amid a huge media crowd.

But Robert, who was surrounded by the media scrum, thanked reporters “for the way you’ve handled this.”

“All I can say is my trust belongs in the Lord,” McDonnell said before he ducked into his car.

Just before Bob McDonnell got in his car, a spectator shouted, “We still love you!”

Jurors were swept out a back door and declined to comment. One juror said, “I just want to go home,” according to the Associated Press.

What comes next for the McDonnells

The verdict read, U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer calmly expressed his gratitude to jurors for their time and attention, saying, “I know it has been a difficult task, but I thank you for your sacrifice.” As the group walked out, Robert F. McDonnell stood, but he did not look up at them.

Spencer asked the former governor and his wife to sit, then mildly asked the lawyers in the case if they were available for a Jan. 6 sentencing hearing. All said they were.

“We’ll get started at 10 o’clock,” Spencer said.

Spencer then asked the McDonnells to stand again and explained what will happen next. Before their sentencing, he said, someone from the probation office would reach out to discuss the case and various aspects of their background which might affect the sentence they will receive. He said if they choose to participate in the process, they could have their lawyers present. At the end of it, he said, a report would be generated.

“That completes this matter,” he said. “We’ll take a break and get back into the civil case.”

Gov. McAuliffe: 'Deeply saddened'

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who took over the office previously held by Robert F. McDonnell (R) in January, released a statement a short time after the verdict was announced.

“I am deeply saddened by the events of the trial that ended in today’s verdict, and the impact it has had on our Commonwealth’s reputation for honesty and clean government,” McAuliffe said. “Dorothy and I will continue to pray for the McDonnell family and for everyone who was affected by this trial.”

McDonnell wept as verdict was read

The moment the first guilty verdict was read, Robert F. McDonnell closed his eyes tightly, shaking in his seat as he wept.

Maureen McDonnell seemed to cry, too, though with her back to the courtroom, her tears were less obvious. In the wooden bench directly behind her, daughter Cailin McDonnell Young hunched forward and sobbed, her husband, Chris Young, hugging her as she did so.

As the eighth guilty count was read, Bob McDonnell buried his face in his hands. By the end, he was slumped in his chair, still crying.

The former governor did not look up as jurors each answered “yes” in turn to affirm their verdict. One juror appeared to be upset, and fidgeted in her seat.

Count by count verdict

Here’s the verdict, count by count, in the Robert F. and Maureen McDonnell corruption trial:

Count 1: Conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud

Maureen G. McDonnell: Guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Guilty

Count 2: Honest services wire fraud: $15,000 wedding check

Maureen G. McDonnell: Guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Guilty

Count 3: Honest services wire fraud: MoBo $50,000

Maureen G. McDonnell: Guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Guilty

Count 4: Honest services wire fraud: MoBo $20,000

Maureen G. McDonnell: Not guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Guilty

Count 5: Conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right

Maureen G. McDonnell: Guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Guilty

Count 6: Obtaining property under color of official right: $50,000 in 2011 to MGM

Maureen G. McDonnell: Guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Guilty

Count 7: Obtaining property under color of official right: $15,000 wedding check

Maureen G. McDonnell: Guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Guilty

Count 8: Obtaining property under color of official right: $2,380 Kinloch 5/29/2011

Maureen G. McDonnell: Guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Guilty

Count 9: Obtaining property under color of official right: $1,424 Kinloch 1/7/2012

Maureen G. McDonnell: Not guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Guilty

Count 10: Obtaining property under color of official right: $50,000 MoBo

Maureen G. McDonnell: Guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Guilty

Count 11: Obtaining property under color of official right: $20,000 MoBo

Maureen G. McDonnell: Not guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Guilty

Count 12: False statement to Townebank on 10/03/2012

Maureen G. McDonnell: N/A

Robert F. McDonnell: Not guilty

Count 13: False statement to PenFed on 02/01/2013

Maureen G. McDonnell: Not guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: Not guilty

Count 14: Obstruction of an official proceeding

Maureen G. McDonnell: Guilty

Robert F. McDonnell: N/A

Sentencing set for Jan. 6

With no fanfare, U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer set sentencing for Jan. 6 at 10 a.m.

Robert McDonnell, who sobbed throughout the proceeding, walked out with his head down. Maureen McDonnell hugged a friend at length in the aisle of the court.

The verdict: Guilty

A federal jury Thursday found former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of public corruption — sending a message that they believed the couple sold the office once occupied by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson to a free-spending Richmond businessman for golf outings, lavish vacations and $120,000 in sweetheart loans.

After three days of deliberations, the seven men and five women who heard weeks of gripping testimony about the McDonnells’ alleged misdeeds acquitted the couple of several charges pending against them — but nevertheless found that they lent the prestige of the governor’s office to Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in a nefarious exchange for his largesse.

The verdict means that Bob McDonnell, who was already the first governor in Virginia history to be charged with a crime, now holds an even more unwanted distinction: the first ever to be convicted of one.

He and his wife face decades in federal prison, although their actual sentence could fall well short of that.

Guilty on corruption, not guilty on falsifying loan documents

Robert F. McDonnell has been found guilty of 11 corruption counts. He was acquitted of falsifying loan documents.

Maureen McDonnell has been found guilty of eight corruption counts as well as obstruction of justice. She has also been found not guilty of falsifying loan documents.

The McDonnell family is sobbing in the courtroom.

Load More
No More Posts
Comments
Most Read
Comments
Comments
×
Liveblog Comments
Comments