On March 11, 2012, Robert F. McDonnell was alerted by his sister that a check had arrived to pay bills for the real estate company owned by the two of them. McDonnell testified that at some point that day, he learned the check was from businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., which he said he was puzzling because he thought the terms of the loan were still being negotiated.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Dry has just highlighted some additional oddities in McDonnell’s interactions with Williams on the issue, focusing on an e-mail exchange between McDonnell and his then-brother-in-law, Michael Uncapher, the next day on March 12. In those messagers, Uncapher informed McDonnell he had cashed Williams’s check. McDonnell responded that Uncapher should make a March payment that was due on mortgages for the beach properties he owned but hold off on paying other bills.
That night, McDonnell said he spoke to Williams to hammer out the terms of the loan, which by now, was already in the bank.
McDonnell said he took notes as Williams spoke, summarizing various deals the businessman proposed. One such deal was that Williams would rent the beach properties the governor and his sister owned, for use by his company. In that arrangement, the $50,000 check would be considered an advance payment for renting the properties.
“You didn’t understand that he was saying the $50,000 would be used as rent to hide the fact that he was giving you loans?” Dry asked.
“Absolutely not,” McDonnell said.
“Had he ever stayed at your beach properties before?” Dry asked. “No,” McDonnell said.
Had he ever expressed interest in staying at them? Dry continued. “No,” McDonnell said.
“Had he even seen your beach properties before,” Dry pressed. “No, I don’t think so,” McDonnell said.
“That was his proposal,” McDonnell said. “It was not the final agreement.”
Elsewhere in the notes, McDonnell wrote: “In two years, he will loan me $ to buy the shares (50k shares).”
McDonnell described that as another possible proposal from Williams that never came to pass.
“That didn’t strike you as odd, that he’s offering to loan you money to buy shares he’s lending you?” Dry asked.
The two went around and around on that idea, with McDonnell insisting he didn’t understand the proposal but that Williams certainly wasn’t offering to loan him money to buy shares he was also lending him. (An arrangement that would not be a true loan, since it would not be repaid.)
“At what point do you say, ‘Hey, I already deposited the check?'” Dry said, adding that it was strange that the two would have a complicated conversation about a stock loan when Williams’s check was already in the bank.
“I didn’t deposit the check,” McDonnell replied wanly, referring to the technical fact that he had, in fact, been informed of the deposit by Uncapher.
The former governor insisted that he did tell Williams about the deposit at some point, likely at the start of the call. “I don’t know,” he said. “I was listening to him. We already agreed it was 2 percent, 3 years.”
McDonnell was referring to the final terms of the loan, in which McDonnell would return the money in three years, with 2 percent interest.