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Updates: Day 17 of the McDonnell corruption trial

August 19, 2014
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, center, arrives at federal court on Monday with his attorneys, John Brownlee, left, and Henry Asbill, right, in Richmond. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, center, arrives at federal court on Monday with his attorneys, John Brownlee, left, and Henry Asbill, right, in Richmond. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen, are battling a 14-count public corruption indictment that alleges 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.

 Interactive: McDonnell gifts list | Twitter: Latest | Previous days: The trial | Photos Indictment

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

Day 17 closed with a final, vigorous sparring match between Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan S. Faulconer and accountant J. Allen Kosowsky.

Faulconer opened his cross-examination of the defense witness by asking about how much Kosowsky personally was making for his work on the case. Kosowsky said he normally bills $525 an hour, but gave the governor’s defense team a 20 percent discount.

Faulconer asked how many hours he had billed so far. After some haggling, Kosowsky said it was probably about 140 hours. Faulconer asked if his total bill, then, was about $80,000? Kosowsky said it was probably between $60,000 and $80,000.

Faulconer, though, was not yet content. He asked the accountant — who had been in court since about 9:30 a.m. — how much he had made just in the hours he was in Richmond Tuesday.

Answer: about $3,000.

Faulconer then peppered Kosowsky with nuanced questions about his assessment that the McDonnells’ finances were sound — questions which are sure to continue Wednesday. At about 5:30 p.m., the prosecutor asked U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer if he would like to break for the day, as has been his practice.

The judge said he would and told jurors to report at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday.

“We made it through another day, and we still got 12 jurors,” Spencer said. “So life is good.”

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

As Day 17 drew near a close, accountant J. Allen Kosowsky laid out the defense’s best case that Robert F. McDonnell, his sister and their shared real estate company were all financially sound.

The testimony is important because prosecutors have said financial distress led the former governor to seek the largesse of Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr.

Kosowsky testified that while the governor and his wife’s credit card debt climbed above $90,000 in August 2010, it had fallen to just south of $6,000 by August 2011 — though he quickly added the caveat that that was due in part to the first lady’s using a Williams loan to pay bills.

Kosowsky testified, too, that in May 2011 — when the first lady allegedly told Williams the couple’s credit cards were “tapped” — the first couple actually had more than $170,000 in available credit, even taking into account the nearly $32,000 they owed.

Around that same time, Kosowsky said, the governor and his wife had more than $12,800 in bank accounts. And the following year, when the governor received $70,000 in loans from Williams for his real estate company, the governor had between $41,000 and $67,000 in accounts, including the company’s, at various points, Kosowsky said.

That was on top of nearly $210,000 that the governor had in retirement accounts, the accountant said.

Kosowsky provided similar figures for the governor’s sister, Maureen C. McDonnell, that indicate she had even more income, and more assets. Combined, he said she and the governor had about $1.4 million in retirement accounts and stocks that they could liquidate. And their company, MoBo Real Estate Partners was actually covering its expenses in 2012, after several years of tens of thousands of dollars in losses.

​”Did you reach an opinion as to Bob McDonnell’s financial soundness?” defense attorney Daniel Small asked.

“Yes, I felt that his financial affairs were sound,” Kosowsky said.

He offered the same assessment of Maureen C. McDonnell and MoBo.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

The governor of Virginia, by statute, is paid $175,000 a year. But of course, that’s before taxes and other payments are made.

Financial expert J. Allen Kosowsky has just presented a chart to jurors showing Bob McDonnell’s actual wages in 2007 through 2012, including some “business income.” It showed that his income rose from $158,809 in 2007, when he was serving as attorney general, to $204,590 in 2012.

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

Up now for defense attorneys is J. Allen Kosowsky, an accountant who was the subject of some pre-trial haggling and who is expected to testify about the strength of the McDonnells’ finances.

Prosecutors had resisted allowing Kosowsky as an expert witness, and U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer has limited what he can talk about. He is expected to testify that the former governor had a positive net worth, retirement accounts he could liquidate and some proceeds from his father’s estate.

Read more about the debate over Kosowsky’s testimony here.

J. Allen Kosowsky gave jurors a long explanation of his various credentials and explained to them that his role in the trial will be to offer an expert opinion, after reviewing records, tax returns, e-mails and testimony, as to former governor Bob McDonnell’s “financial soundness.”

But first, a bit about his fee. Under questioning, he agreed that he charges a fee for his services. Usually, he said, he charges $525 an hour. But, he said, he is giving McDonnell a “courtesy discount” of 25 percent.

Prosecutors objected before Kosowsky could explain why he offered the discount, except that he was allowed to note that he is not a personal friend of the former governor.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Maureen McDonnell’s special assistant Kathleen Scott testified that the first lady sometimes used the governor’s name to get things done.

Scott testified that the first lady’s anxiety would get the better of her. She would get especially difficult before major public events or when her husband was traveling. “Her anxiety increased. Her need for control increased,” she said.

Scott recounted how she once went into the mansion’s personal quarters to find the first lady “ranting and raving” at the governor about how he needed to pack for a trip. He was trying to read the newspaper, watch TV and prepare for work. “He usually just tuned her out,” she said.

She said that Maureen McDonnell appeared resentful at her role and sometimes, when frustrated, would use her husband’s name. Once, she wanted to put Anatabloc, the dietary supplement made by Jonnie Williams’s company, into gift baskets that were being delivered to governors attending the National Governors Association meeting in Williamsburg in 2012.

Scott said staff discovered that it was impossible to get access to the baskets — they were entirely sealed. So Maureen McDonnell decided to put the Anatabloc in gift bags for the governors’ spouses instead. Her staff expressed reluctance, but she insisted: “She said the governor wants it in there,” Scott said. “We all knew that that wasn’t the case.”

During a brief cross examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber, Scott acknowledged that the governor’s top aides, Martin Kent and Janet Vestal Kelly, came to the mansion from time to time to check up on staff. Aber’s point, presumably, was that the governor was aware of his wife’s issues.

Scott also acknowledged that she had no personal knowledge of whether the governor wanted Anatabloc in the NGA gift bags.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Maureen McDonnell’s former special assistant Kathleen Scott gave the defense’s theory that the first lady had a crush on Jonnie R. Williams Sr. a boost  Tuesday. She said she never saw the two interact, but she heard the way the first lady discussed Williams.

“She would light up,” Scott said. “He made her feel special.”

During cross examination by Heather Martin, an attorney for Maureen McDonnell, Scott expanded. She agreed that she had previously told law enforcement that the first lady was “gaga” over Williams. “She seemed enamored with him,” Scott said. “Infatuated. I think he made her feel special.”

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Kathleen Scott, who served as a special assistant to first lady Maureen McDonnell, has just finished providing an especially vivid account of the difficulties of working for McDonnell while her husband was in office.

She said that at some point, a management consultant was brought in from VCU to try to improve conditions.

“We were trying to get some help dealing with the highs and lows, the hots and colds,” she said. “We were spending so much time dealing with the minutia that we couldn’t get our jobs done.”

After working with employees for a time, VCU consultant James Burke offered the first lady’s team this advice: “Look at it like you’re dealing with a 5-year-old.”

Scott went on: “He really did believe she was suffering from some sort of mental illness.” Prosecutors objected to that topic and Scott moved on.

She said employees eventually decided to submit a joint letter threatening to resign, which has been already shown to jurors. “This was a last-ditch effort,” she said. “If one of us had to leave, we would all leave.”

The letter was intercepted, she said, by either chief of staff Martin Kent or Secretary of the Commonwealth Janet Vestal Kelly. Scott said she thought about texting the governor and asking to meet one-on-one.

“There was really no way for me to be able to get alone time,” she said. “I felt like I was a friend of the family. I knew the children well.” But, she added, “I wanted to be a professional. I did what the team wanted to do.”

“I wish now that I had,” she added quietly.

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

Now on the stand is Kathleen Scott, a woman who met Maureen McDonnell because their children played soccer together and who later went to work in the governor’s office as the first lady’s special assistant.

Scott’s first story is a weird one.

In fall 2011, Scott said she set about organizing her boss’s vanity, thinking a clearing of the clutter might help Maureen McDonnell “feel more calm.” Scott said the first lady was generally an “anxious” person who would bite her fingernails and pick at her arms and chest. While she was “wonderful and sweet and caring” some days, Scott said, other days, she was “dreadful” to work for.

“We never knew what we were going to get,” Scott said.

The vanity episode provides perhaps the most vivid illustration of it all. Scott said she decided to organize the first lady’s jewelry and other items in fall 2011, and found a substantial amount of clutter. There was an iPhone still in the box, 25 pocketbooks and 50 tubes of lipstick, Scott said. And tucked away in a narrow drawer at the top of the vanity: a Rolex watch, out of the box, that “looked worn,” Scott said.

“It didn’t look new,” Scott said.

Still, because the watch seemed to be a “niece piece of jewelry,” Scott said she put it in a watch box; there were many boxes there to use, she said. And she said the first lady was “absolutely thrilled” when she came home to find everything organized.

At least at first.

Scott said the next morning, when the first lady was supposed to appear at an event, she was “irate” and complaining “nothing was where it used to be.” About a week later, Scott said, the first lady inquired specifically, “What had I done with the watch?”

Scott said she told her it was simply in a box in a different place in the vanity.

Jurors were shown a picture of the Rolex, and it looks essentially identical to the one Jonnie R. Williams Sr. bought for the first lady, and which she gave to her husband as a Christmas present later that year. The Rolex has become a focal point of the trial. Williams claims the governor knew it came from him, because the governor sent him a picture text in December 2012 of himself flashing the expensive timepiece. McDonnell’s defense attorneys have pointed out, though, that there is no corresponding record to corroborate that text.

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

Maureen C. McDonnell had testified previously that she came home from a vacation in March 2012 to find a series of strange texts from the first lady, and a $50,000 check made out to her and her brother’s real estate company from Jonnie R. Williams Sr.’s trust. ​Phone records show she and her brother talked on the phone on the night those texts were exchanged, though McDonnell has insisted that their conversation was mostly about the vacation and her sometimes-troubled marriage.

As she finished cross-examining the governor’s sister, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber seemed to be skeptical of that claim.

“Did you or did you not talk about the $50,000 check that just appeared at your house?” Aber asked.

McDonnell had testified previously she and the governor had a more extensive conversation about that the next day. At Aber’s questioning, though, she acknowledged that it probably came up during her conversation with her brother that night.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber continues to press the point that finances at MoBo were less rosy than the former governor’s sister has suggested.

For instance, she showed Maureen C. McDonnell, the ex-governor’s sister, an e-mail from a Bank of America official to Robert F. McDonnell in 2011 in which the official wrote regarding the “precarious position with regard to loan to value” of the properties and indicated that a traditional refinancing would not be an option for the McDonnells.

Maureen McDonnell said she was not familiar with the discussion and said merely that there had been discussions of refinancing the properties before she and her brother decided to accept loans from individuals instead.

“The cheapest loan is one which you don’t have to pay back, isn’t that right?” Aber asked. She was referring to the terms of Jonnie R. Williams’s loans, which required no repayment in 2015.

Maureen McDonnell responded she was aware of no loan that did not require eventual repayment.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber is now working to poke holes in the account of Bob McDonnell’s sister Maureen McDonnell, who testified that late fees and other troubles encountered by the real estate partnership she held with her brother were her ex-husband’s fault and that her own financial health meant they were hardly desperate for a loan from Jonnie Williams.

For one thing, Aber questioned why the McDonnells did not remove management of the property from the ex-husband or put their bills on automatic pay. Why didn’t they do that after receiving an e-mail in 2009 indicating the water had been turned off at one of the beach houses for lack of payment? How about in 2010, when Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms, the president of Townebank, had called on the day of the McDonnells’ father’s funeral to alert her to the fact that  a loan payment was nearing 30 days past due?

The witness said her then-husband Michael Uncapher promised to fix the problems. “We believed that he would. We trusted that he would,” she testified.

Aber also suggested that the McDonnells were getting special treatment in their loans. After all, they had the president of the bank call them to alert them to payments that were past due. And Maureen McDonnell acknowledged that she had worked out a deal with another bank regarding late fees after meeting with bank officials and putting her brother, then serving as governor, on the phone.

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

As she cross-examines Maureen C. McDonnell, the former governor’s sister, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber seems to be trying to highlight for jurors the discrepancy between the former Amerigroup executive’s optimistic testimony Tuesday about her and her brother’s finances and the more ominous warnings she wrote in e-mails years ago.

In an April 2009 e-mail, for example, Maureen C. McDonnell wrote of “financial pressures” compelling her and her brother to list for sale their rental properties in Virginia Beach “asap.” Aber inquired about the urgency to sell the homes, given that Maureen C. McDonnell had offered a somewhat rosier view Tuesday.

“When I say financial pressure, it was in the [real estate company] account, not for me personally,” McDonnell said, referencing the company, MoBo Real Estate Partners, that she owned with Robert F. McDonnell.

Aber also asked — and gently requested that the witness answer with a yes or no — if it was true that she, in 2009, had already received nearly $110,000 in loans from her father. Maureen C. McDonnell said she had, and “he and my family were fine with that.”

And Aber asked McDonnell about a December 2009 e-mail from her husband, who was inquiring if she and the governor had found a “magical partner” for the rental properties. McDonnell testified previously she responded to the e-mail with the added commentary “we are in trouble and need to act NOW,” so that she would get the attention of her brother, who had yet to respond.

Wasn’t it true, Aber asked, that her e-mail to the governor came only about an hour after her husband’s?

“Yes, it might have been an hour, but I wanted to put my commentary on it before I sent it on to Bob,” she said, adding that both she and the governor sometimes ignored e-mails from her husband.

At Aber’s questioning, Maureen C. McDonnell then denied having ever seriously considered bankruptcy or short sales of the properties, though she mentioned both in an e-mail.

The line of inquiry seems designed to attack the notion that the McDonnells were not scrambling for funds, as Maureen C. McDonnell asserted on the witness stand Tuesday. Prosecutors have alleged financial distress led the former first couple to seek the generosity of Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., who lent $70,000 to MoBo Real Estate Partners.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Action has sped up a bit in the court room. Bob McDonnell’s sister Maureen faced a a few final questions from Bob McDonnell’s lawyer Dan Small.

“Did you need Jonnie Williams’s loan or did you decide” to use it? he asked.

“It certainly wasn’t the only option,” she said. “It was just the first one.”

William Burck, an attorney for former first lady Maureen McDonnell, also asked only a few questions, designed to show again that his client  was intimately involved in securing the loan from Williams, even if it was negotiated by her husband.

Now, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber has taken over, cross-examining the governor’s sister on behalf of the government.

She started by asking McDonnell to confirm whose names were on the mortgages for the two Virginia Beach properties? Was it MoBo or was it Maureen McDonnell and her brother as individuals. The former governor’s sister agreed it was them, personally.

“So if the homes had been foreclosed on or the loans had defaulted, who would have been responsible?” Aber asked.

“I don’t think that was a possibility, but that would have been our liability,” Maureen McDonnell agreed.

This line of questioning is designed to press prosecutors’ point that Williams’s loans in 2012 did not truly go to MoBo but instead went to Bob McDonnell personally.

McDonnell, who has been testifying to her own general financial health, also agreed that when she and her brother bought the $2 million in property in 2005 and 2006, they put no cash down at all. Instead, each took out home equity loans on their primary residences to gather money for the downpayments.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

In July 2013, Bob McDonnell publicly apologized for his interactions with Jonnie Williams Sr. for the first time and announced he had paid Williams’s money back in full. He said at the time that he paid the money back using personal funds, money from family and money from MoBo. Yet that left a lot of questions — just how did a guy who had needed such big loans suddenly come up with the money to pay them back?

At least a partial answer came today on the witness stand from Bob McDonnell’s sister: She paid back the $70,000 Williams gave to MoBo, the partnership she held with her brother. She testified that she liquidated a portion of her 401k account from her time working at IBM and then sold some stock she held in her company Amerigroup and came up with the money that way.

“It was a couple of phone calls,” she said. “It was rather painless.”

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

Back from the lunch break, Robert F. McDonnell defense attorney Daniel Small is using the governor’s sister to counter prosecutors’ charges that the governor lied on financial documents.

The charges stem from when the governor — and some of his relatives — were trying to refinance several properties in late 2012 and early 2013. Prosecutors allege the governor did not list on financial statements — as they say he was required to do — the $70,000 in loans that Jonnie R. Williams Sr. had given to a real estate company he co-owned with his sister.

Defense attorneys have argued that McDonnell actually was not required to list the loans because they were made to the real estate company, not him personally. And his sister, Maureen C. McDonnell, helped them on that front. Maureen C. McDonnell testified that Nanette Bolt, an official with Pentagon Federal Credit Union, told her at one point that it “wasn’t necessary” for her to list loans to her business on personal loan applications and related financial statements.

Maureen C. McDonnell also testified of the length of the loan application process and of how documents were often created that were riddled with inaccuracies. One, she said, even had her birthday wrong. That is important because McDonnell modified one of his loan applications to include the Williams loans. Prosecutors argue that was because investigators had talked to his wife three days earlier; defense attorneys have suggested the modifications were a common part of the loan process.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

On Monday, jurors heard testimony from Brenda Chamberlain, who served as a bookkeeper for the MoBo partnership.

Now, they heard more about Chamberlain from the perspective of the Mo in MoBo — Maureen McDonnell, the former governor’s sister.

She testified that in early 2013, she, her brother and another sister realized that the books for MoBo were “a complete disaster.” She had gone through a final separation from her then-husband Michael Uncapher and discovered that he had not been updating financial documents properly. What’s more, she found that he had engaged in “mystery transfers,” including what looked like writing checks to himself from the entity’s account.

On Feb. 2, 2013, she said, the group held a conference call with Chamberlain to discuss the situation. The bookkeeper, she said, “vented” about Uncapher’s handling of the records. Finally, Maureen McDonnell testified that her brother proposed simply giving the bookkeeper a password to allow her to directly view MoBo’s account.

Under questioning from Small, she confirmed that that would allow Chamberlain to see all deposits in the account, including those from Williams’s trust.

Small asked her: Had you ever met Chamberlain?

“I still haven’t met Brenda Chamberlain,” she responded, going on to indicate that her brother had also never met the bookkeeper.

“Did you have any reluctance to give her the password and numbers to the account?” he asked.

“No,” she said.

Small then showed an e-mail from the former governor, indicating that less than 48 hours later, he provided Chamberlain the password, as promised.

This is intended to show that McDonnell had nothing to hide in regards to his loans from Williams. That conversation took place 13 days before the first lady was alerted to law enforcement interest in the couple’s relationship with Williams through a Virginia State Police interview.

With that, court has broken for lunch until 2:15 p.m.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·
Maureen McDonnell, sister of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, arrives at federal court  in Richmond on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Maureen McDonnell, sister of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, arrives at federal court in Richmond on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Attorney Dan Small showed Bob McDonnell’s sister a summary chart prepared by an FBI agent that displayed payments made out of the MoBo bank account in the weeks after Jonnie Williams Sr. provided a loan.

Two entries indicated money transferred out of the account and to an entity called Blue Ridge Heaven. That’s another limited liability corporation the governor owned with two of his sisters, and it managed a $1 million vacation home at the Wintergreen Resort.

Those payments could be important to prosecutors as they try to prove that Williams’s loan went not to MoBo but to Robert F. McDonnell himself, since it showed the money was used to pay for expenses other than simply MoBo’s own needs.

But Maureen McDonnell said those transfers were made without her knowledge by her husband, from whom she is now divorced.

“Did you later come to find out that he had transferred some of the money to himself?” Small asked her.

“Yes, I did,” she said.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Defense attorney Dan Small continues to introduce evidence that Bob McDonnell’s sister had ample resources to handle payments on properties she owned with her brother and that Jonnie Williams’s assistance was not their only option.

Beyond resources already mentioned in testimony, Small showed her various additional accounts she held in 2012. She held an account at the IBM credit union that totaled more than $118,000. She had a 401K retirement plan from Regent University, where she previously worked, that totaled nearly $440,000. Another 401k account totaled nearly $260,000 and a third retirement account, she said, was around $50,000.

Not to mention, Small showed evidence that McDonnell was paid a $70,000 bonus from her company right around the time that McDonnell accepted money from Jonnie Williams. And she had the ability to get a low-interest loan using a credit card — an express check, she called it.

So why use Williams’s money rather than any of those other sources? McDonnell testified that she preferred to avoid touching those accounts. Plus, she said she was worried about her credit at the time. Her then-husband Michael Uncapher had hurt her credit by incurring late fees on various accounts without her knowledge. For that reason, she was hesitant to take out more money from a bank. “I preferred a loan from an individual versus a financial institution,” she said.

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

​After some heated exchanges between Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, his sister and his wife over a March 2012 check from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the governor was hoping everyone could make amends, the sister testified Tuesday.

The sister, Maureen C. McDonnell, testified that the governor asked her to reach out to the first lady and smooth tension after some confusion regarding the $50,00 check. And Maureen C. McDonnell said she tried to call the governor’s wife, who shares her first name.

But when McDonnell did not immediately hear back, she said she texted her brother, complaining of the “relational tension dividing our families.”

“I just didn’t understand why this was so complicated and difficult,” she said Tuesday.

The testimony seems to be designed to further the defense’s narrative that the governor’s wife was unhinged and often working behind her husband’s back — and perhaps even to his occasional dismay — in her dealings with Jonnie R. Williams Sr.

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

In March 2012, soon after she returned home from a family vacation to Jamaica, Maureen C. McDonnell said she received a series of unusual text messages from her sister-in-law, the first lady of Virginia.

The first lady, whose first name is also Maureen, was asking — on behalf of an “anxious friend” — if her sister-in-law had received a FedEx package with a check, according to the texts and Maureen C. McDonnell’s testimony. The two women exchanged a few messages, and Maureen C. McDonnell and her husband, Michael Uncapher, eventually called the first lady.

The first lady, hearing Michael on the phone, hung up, Maureen C. McDonnell testified Tuesday.

“She did not want to speak to Michael,” McDonnell testified. “She wanted to speak to me.”

Jurors have already seen the text exchange and know now that the package contained a $50,000 check from Jonnie R. Williams Sr.’s Starwood Trust written to MoBo Real Estate Partners, the real estate company former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell owned with his sister to manage their Virginia Beach rental properties. As she testified Tuesday, Maureen C. McDonnell gave the jury a window into the behind-the-scenes confusion and anger surrounding the money, and into the first lady’s vehement claims that she was the person to have arranged it.

McDonnell testified that she got in touch with her brother some time after the first lady hung up, but the two talked mainly about her trip to Jamaica. The trip was a sort-of “reconciliation,” she said, for her and her husband — who had been separated for some months before.

Late that night, Maureen C. McDonnell said, the first lady then sent another text, apparently angry that McDonnell had gotten in touch with her own brother directly about the check. The text said, in part: “I worked on this loan 4a year, not Bob.”

That text, which jurors had already seen, seems to provide strong evidence that the first lady was engaged in her own financial dealings with Williams. For her part, Maureen C. McDonnell said she was simply “perplexed by the bizarre messages.” She said the next day, she and Uncapher were still unsure what to do with the check.

Maureen C. McDonnell testified that on March 12, 2012, she talked briefly with her brother on the phone, and she could hear his wife screaming in the background.

“She was livid,” McDonnell testified. “I just heard some of the narrative that we heard earlier, that she worked on the loan, not Bob.”

Maureen C. McDonnell said her brother asked if he could call back later.

“It was very distracting,” Maureen C. McDonnell said. “She was angry.”

It wasn’t until later that night, Maureen C. McDonnell said, that she finally got details from her brother about the check. She said the $50,000 was apparently a balloon loan with a 2.5 percent interest rate that would be paid back in three years, with the vast majority of the repayment coming in March 2015. She said those terms, though, were not quite finalized.

“I don’t believe he had yet proposed this to Mr. Williams,” Maureen C. McDonnell said. “I don’t believe it was set.”

The timing is still somewhat confusing. Williams has said the governor and he met Feb. 29, 2012, to discuss a possible loan or stock deal to help support MoBo, and the check was written  March 6. It was not deposited, though, until March 12, and Williams has said he and the governor were still finalizing terms in between. Phone records show the governor and Williams exchanged calls  March 12.

Maureen C. McDonnell testified that her own knowledge of Williams was sparse. She said she first heard about the businessman in April 2011, when the first lady brought his name up at a family gathering as a possible purchaser of the Virginia Beach rental properties she owned with her brother. She said she was aware, too, that her husband, who managed the properties’ finances, had had some conversations with Williams.

McDonnell said she was unaware of all the gifts — including golf outings and a Rolex watch — Williams had bestowed on her brother and his family. Of the watch, she said her brother told her only, “his wife bought him a watch for Christmas.”

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