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Updates: Day nine of the McDonnell corruption trial

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August 7, 2014
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is surrounded by members of the media as he heads into the federal courthouse in Richmond on Thursday. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob Brown)

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is surrounded by members of the media as he heads into the federal courthouse in Richmond on Thursday. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob Brown)

Former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen, are battling a 14-count public corruption indictment that alleges they lent the prestige of the governor’s office to a Richmond area businessman, and in exchange, the businessman lavished them with gifts and money. Jurors on Thursday resumed hearing testimony from witnesses during a trial in federal court in Richmond.

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

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

The McDonnell trial has concluded for the day with the end of Communications Director Tucker Martin’s testimony. In response to questions from both sides, Martin testified that when the relationship between the McDonnells and Jonnie Williams was exposed in the Washington Post in March 2013, he wanted to release all details of the relationship at once and move on.

“That’s just from the school of crisis management,” he said. “Just get it all out at once.”

He was asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber: Is that what happened? No, he agreed.

But Bob McDonnell’s attorney Henry Asbill asked him, didn’t the governor at some point acquire private attorneys? And isn’t it fair to say there might have been tension between how the press office wanted to handle the situation and what was dictated by lawyers? Martin explained that very early, he was told to pass inquiries to McDonnell’s lawyers. He said he then released answers he received back.

Court will return to session Friday at 9:45 a.m.

  • Laura Vozzella
  • ·

Robert F. McDonnell’s communications chief described the former governor as a “thrifty” man who had holes in his shoes, wore bad neckties and used a milk crate for a briefcase. Tucker Martin also said the governor had never lied to him or asked him to lie to the press on his behalf.

A witness for the prosecution, Martin testified on cross examination by defense attorney Henry Asbill that the $6,000 to $7,000 Rolex watch that Williams bought for McDonnell was out of character for him.

“We used to make fun of him because he had holes in his shoes,” Martin said. “We used to give him ties for Christmas because I didn’t like the way his ties looked.”

Instead of carrying a briefcase, the governor lugged around whatever he needed in a milk crate.

“He was thrifty,” Martin said.

Once the gifts scandal broke, it was Martin’s responsibility to respond to press inquiries until the governor hired a private spokesman for that purpose.

“Did my client ever ask you to lie for him and Jonnie Williams and Star?” Asbill asked.

Said Martin, who worked for McDonnell for eight years: “I don’t think he would ever ask me to lie.”

Asbill went over a number of news articles that quoted Martin providing information that he now concedes was untrue.

Martin told reporters at the time of Cailin McDonnell’s June 2011 wedding, for instance, that the McDonnell family was paying for it. In fact, Williams paid the $15,000 catering tab and many other people contributed items ranging from the wedding dress to a limousine.

When The Washington Post reported in 2013 that the governor returned to Richmond from Jonnie Williams’s Smith Mountain Lake vacation home in the executive’s Ferrari, Martin told the paper that there was no “recreational use” of the vehicle, and that the governor was merely doing Williams a favor by moving the car to Richmond. But Williams’s aide has testified that a Star employee drove the car out to the lake house for the McDonnell family’s use, and prosecutors presented an invoice of the transportation service used to pick up the employee after he dropped it off.

Asbill suggested that McDonnell might have been in the dark about how the Ferrari wound up at the lake house.

As for statements about who paid for the wedding, Martin said he had not known about the catering payment. Martin also said that when members of the media had inquired about who was paying for the wedding, their main concern was whether any taxpayer money was being spent on the event.

“If a family friend gave a gift, would you consider that family paying?” Asbill asked.

Martin did not get a chance to answer. Prosecutors objected to the question and Judge Spencer sustained it.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

In a surreal moment for some in the courtroom, Gov. Robert McDonnell’s former Director of Communications Tucker Martin was just asked a number of questions about how the office responded once the story began to break in the Washington Post in 2013.

For instance, he was asked about an April 18, 2013 Washington Post story that discussed the McDonnell family trip to Smith Mountain Lake. That story was flashed on the courtroom screen. In the story, Martin was quoted as saying, “There was no recreational use of the vehicle.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber asked Martin why he issued that comment. “That would have been my discussion with the governor,” he said. Aber asked if McDonnell told Martin he should ask for a correction. Martin said he did not.

“I may not have liked the coverage, but the coverage was fair,” he said.

Aber at some point asked Martin when was the first time he learned about the loans the McDonnell family accepted from Jonnie Williams. “It would have been when Roz Helderman called me a year later,” he said.

Finally, Aber asked him about an e-mail exchange he had in July 2013 with then-McDonnell chief of staff Martin Kent and Ed Gillespie, now running for Senate in Virginia. It included a statement being prepared for release in response to a profile then being written by Washington Post reporter Laura Vozzella of the first lady. In that statement, McDonnell spoke glowingly of Maureen McDonnell. It concluded with words indicating that McDonnell thanked God for his wife and her service to Virginia. Martin indicated in his e-mail that the governor had edited the statement himself.

  • Laura Vozzella
  • ·

Former McDonnell communications chief Tucker Martin has corroborated a story told earlier in the trial, about Maureen McDonnell trying to pitch Ann Romney on Anatabloc.

Martin recalled how in January 2012, the governor endorsed Mitt Romney for president. At the time, McDonnell was under consideration  to be Romney’s running mate. He and the first lady traveled to South Carolina to campaign with the Republican hopeful and his wife, Ann. Martin was on the trip along with other McDonnell associates, including Phil Cox, the head of the governor’s political action committee.

Martin recalled riding on the Romney RV to a campaign event along with the McDonnells and the Romneys. There were lots of different conversations going on all at once, and his nose was buried deep in his BlackBerry, but one chat caught his attention.

“I could tell that Mrs. McDonnell and Ann Romney seemed to be in a deeper conversation,” Martin said.

It wasn’t long before Martin and Cox decided that conversation need to be cut off.

“We could overhear enough and we could tell she had a bottle of Anatabloc out,” Martin said.

Cox took the stand earlier this week and gave a similar account. Cox had also testified that Maureen McDonnell and Jonnie Williams had sought an audience with Mitt Romney so that the Star executive could talk to the presidential candidate about his product, but Cox said he thought that was inappropriate and headed that off.

Martin testified that Williams showed up in South Carolina during their visit. “He was there with the first lady,” he said.

But at least initially, Martin did not say anything about an effort to meet with Mitt Romney.

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·
The Rolex watch given to former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell by businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in seen. The watch is engraved with the words "Robert F. McDonnell, 71st Governor of Virginia."

The Rolex watch given to former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell by businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in seen. The watch is engraved with the words “Robert F. McDonnell, 71st Governor of Virginia.”

Tucker Martin, the former communications director for Robert F. McDonnell when he was governor, testified Thursday that he first learned his boss had a new Rolex watch when a Richmond Times Dispatch reporter stopped by to interview the governor in January 2012. He said the reporter inquired about it after the interview, and he soon went to McDonnell to find out more.

“I think I asked him, ‘Is that a Rolex?’” Martin testified Thursday.

Martin’s account of what happened next is almost identical to that of Jasen Eige, another staffer who was there for the exchange and testified earlier in the trial. Martin said the governor told him and Eige that his wife had bought the timepiece for him for Christmas. When they advised him not to wear it, Martin said, the governor joked about it being fake.

Martin said he advised McDonnell: “That doesn’t matter if it’s real or not. That just doesn’t look good.”

By then, though, the governor had already been photographed wearing it. The photo appeared soon thereafter in the Richmond Times Dispatch.

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

On the eve of an event at the governor’s mansion where Jonnie R. Williams Sr. would promote his company’s dietary supplement, the first lady’s chief of staff forwarded a press release about the occasion to the governor’s communications director.

The communications director’s response: “Are we sure we can do something like this?”

Tucker Martin, the former communications director for Robert F. McDonnell, said the e-mail with the release came during a busy time — a hurricane had just hit Virginia — and in an unusual way. He said it appeared the company had sent the release to mansion staffers, who then sent it to him.

He responded with his question and got the governor’s lawyers involved.

“It was a surprise to me, and it was also coming through a channel that wasn’t normal,” he said.

Martin said he recalls the manner in which he got the release as raising his concerns, and not necessarily the details of the event itself. He said he hoped the lawyers would vet things further.

“I thought, when in doubt, put the lawyers on this e-mail and find out what’s going on,” he said.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Tucker Martin, who served as communications director to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has now taken the stand. He testified that when Cailin McDonnell, the governor’s daughter, got married in 2011, he fielded a number of questions from the media about the event.  One question he received a number of times: Who was paying for the wedding?

He said he talked to the governor, who told him the family paid.

He was then shown an e-mail exchange with Richmond Times Dispatch reporter Olympia Meola, where he told Meola that the family paid. A picture of a Washington Post story about the event by Anita Kumar was then flashed on the courtroom monitors, in which Martin was quoted providing the same information.

Did you ever hear Mr. McDonnell say that was not correct? You’d gotten it wrong? Or was that the message? continued Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber.

“That was the message,” he said.

Martin said the first time he heard that Jonnie R. Williams Sr. had, in fact, paid $15,000 for the catering of the wedding was when the story first broke in The Washington Post in March 2013. He learned Williams had loaned $120,000 to Maureen McDonnell and a small real estate company owned by the governor and his sister when that story broke in July 2013.

Martin also acknowledged on the stand that at some point, he himself had purchased Star Scientific stock. He said he liked to buy stock and the company was located in Petersburg, near where he grew up. After making the acknowledgement, he interjected before Aber could ask another question to ask if he could clarify for media present: He sold his stock before making comments about the story so as to not have any conflict of interest.

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

When Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his family sojourned to Jonnie R. Williams Sr.’s Smith Mountain Lake home in July 2011, the plan was for the governor’s security detail to drive them back to Richmond, a trooper on the detail testified Thursday.

The first family apparently had other ideas.

According to Todd Claiborne, the Virginia State Police trooper who was to shepherd the governor, his wife and several of his children home safely, the family instead drove themselves — in Williams’s vehicles.

The governor and his wife used the businessman’s Ferrari, and the children took his Range Rover, Claiborne testified.

Claiborne said troopers still accompanied them (in separate vehicles) on the trip, and the family made it back safely. But the episode clearly caused consternation. Claiborne said he e-mailed a sergeant to inform him of what happened, because he could not recall any time before that the governor had ever driven himself.

The sergeant wrote back simply: “Oh boy.”

  • Laura Vozzella
  • ·

Members of the governor’s security detail got a kick out of seeing their boss Robert F. McDonnell behind the wheel of Jonnie Williams’s Ferrari.

“It was nice to see him driving that nice car,” said Alfred Walden, a member of the Virginia State Police’s executive protection unit.

Just seeing the governor drive at all was out of the ordinary, because his protective detail normally ferried him around, Walden said. That the governor was driving an exotic sports car made the sight even more striking.

Walden said he was so “fascinated” that he took a video of the governor driving up to the Smith Mountain Lake clubhouse where he had just had lunch with fellow officers.

Just the arrival of the car at the Smith Mountain Lake home where the McDonnells were vacationing in the summer of 2011 was enough to make the troopers whip out their phones to snap pictures. One trooper sent a photo to his son back home.

  • Laura Vozzella
  • ·

Sometime after Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Hazel met Jonnie R. Williams Sr. for the first time in November 2010, Robert F. McDonnell asked him to sit down with the businessman, whom the governor described as “a very good friend of his wife.”

Hazel said he responded that he’d already met with the Star Scientific CEO once, but still did not know what the executive wanted from him.

Hazel testified that he and his staff referred to Williams as the “tic tac man” because he’d arrived at his first meeting with a box of pills, which looked like breath mints.

“I will swear under oath I did not declare it as a gift because I had no thought that it had any value,” Hazel said, prompting laughs in the courtroom, even from the former governor.

Hazel said he and his deputies, Keith Hare and Matt Cobb, discussed what to do with the pills.

“Keith asked, ‘Would you take them?” Hazel recalled.

The secretary said he would not.

“Matt said, if you pay me.”

So Cobb took them for $1 a day.

“After two days, Keith didn’t pay, and Matt didn’t take them.”

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel’s testimony concluded with his acknowledgement that the Williams situation felt unusual to him.

“I don’t recall that there was ever another situation quite like this one,” he said. “I don’t think there was the involvement that we had … the repeated contact, the mansion event was unique, that was the first time that happened.”

Defense attorneys declined to cross-examine the Cabinet secretary.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel is turning out to be a tough witness for former governor Robert F. McDonnell.

He testified that his office came up with a list of health-care leaders to invite to a February 2012 reception at the governor’s mansion. He said he especially wanted people involved who had done policy work in Virginia, particularly individuals who were involved in a health reform initiative.

After sending the list his office compiled to the governor’s office for approval, the list came back with a series of names added, including Jonnie R. Williams Sr. and other individuals Hazel learned Williams had recommended. “I was not excited to see these people I would not consider leaders involved,” he said.

Repeatedly, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Dry asked Hazel to describe his reaction to the addition of Star Scientific employees and recommended guests to what Dry described as Hazel’s event. He said he was upset and not happy.

Is it fair to say, Dry asked, that he did not consider these people active in health-care policy in Virginia?

“Or even the economy of health care in Virginia, no,” he said.

Hazel said he went up to Williams at the event and asked him: “Jonnie, what do you want from us?” Hazel said Williams told him he wanted to get his product tested at Virginia universities.

At some point, Hazel said he learned that Williams wanted to test Anatabloc on Virginia government employees. He wasn’t impressed with that idea. We weren’t just going to take a bunch of it and give to our employees. I wouldn’t even put the stuff in my mouth,” he said.

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

About 11:30 p.m. on July 31, 2011, Robert F. McDonnell dashed off an e-mail to his health secretary, asking him to send someone the next day to a Jonnie R. Williams Sr.-related briefing with the first lady at the Executive Mansion.

The health secretary testified Thursday that the late hour of the e-mail from the governor was not unusual: “He had some very bad habits that way,” the health secretary joked — nor was it all that strange for him to be making arrangements on such short notice.

But Bill Hazel said he did not know the governor had just returned from a vacation at Williams’s home on Smith Mountain Lake, nor was he aware that Williams had given the first lady a $50,000 loan and put $15,000 toward the catering at McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding.

Hazel ultimately sent a staffer to the meeting, who has testified she heard Williams out but ultimately sent him a polite blow-off letter. Hazel said he, himself, was skeptical of claims about so-called “nutraceuticals,” such as the supplement Williams was trying to sell, and told the first lady as much in a different Executive Mansion meeting.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Hazel has now taken the stand and begun his testimony by describing a meeting he attended with Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in October 2010.

At the time, Hazel said he had never heard of Williams or his company. He took the meeting, he said, at the request of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell.

“The governor sent Jonnie Williams to me to talk to,” he said. Hazel agreed that it was not at all uncommon for McDonnell to send him issues that related to health care in the state and ask him to explore them.

At that meeting, which took place before Williams had begun to provide loans or gifts to the McDonnells, Hazel said Williams spoke about his product Anatabloc and about its key compound, which is found in tobacco. Williams told Hazel that the non-FDA approved dietary supplement showed promise in treating a variety of diseases and told anecdotes about people who had experienced success with the pills.

Williams even popped a few of the pills right in front of him, Hazel said.

The Cabinet secretary said he was less than impressed. “Something that was too good to be true, I probably would have heard about at the time,” he said. “To say I was skeptical was an understatement.”

Hazel said he wasn’t exactly sure what Williams wanted. “I missed the punchline of the meeting. I never got the ask,” he said. But under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Dry, Hazel agreed that around that time, Williams asked him to fly to Florida to visit the Roskamp Institute, a private research facility that had a financial arrangement with Star Scientific.

  • Justin Jouvenal
  • ·
Mary-Shea Sutherland, Maureen McDonnell's former chief of staff, recalled an incident in which Jonnie Williams bought McDonnell a yellow dress — at her request — because her husband “had fallen in love with her in yellow.” (U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Virginia)

Mary-Shea Sutherland, Maureen McDonnell’s former chief of staff, recalled an incident in which Jonnie Williams bought McDonnell a yellow dress — at her request — because her husband “had fallen in love with her in yellow.” (U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of Virginia)

First, there was the Ferrari photo. Then, the Rolex picture emerged.

Now, we are getting the first glimpse of a photo of the much-discussed yellow dress, which could be yet another enduring image of the trial.

Maureen McDonnell’s former top aide, Mary-Shea Sutherland, testified Wednesday that her boss had requested Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. buy the dress because Robert F. McDonnell “had fallen in love with her in yellow.”

Sutherland testified she was in the first lady’s office when the box containing the dress arrived. She said Maureen McDonnell tried on the dress once and decided she did not like how it fit. Sutherland said she never saw McDonnell wear the dress again.

The dress and a handful of other clothing items are central to prosecutors’ case that the McDonnells used their positions to promote Williams’s dietary supplement business in exchange for lavish gifts. Photos of the clothes were released Wednesday morning, as part of the trial exhibits.

(U.S. District Court)

(U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of Virginia)

(U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern District of Virginia)

(U.S. District Court)

(U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern District of Virginia)

(U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of Virginia)

(U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern District of Virginia)

(U.S. District Court)

(U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern District of Virginia)

(U.S. District Court)

(U.S. District Court)

(U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of Virginia)

(U.S. District Court)

(U.S. District Court)

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

Frank Crantz, a Northern Virginia doctor whom Star Scientific was attempting to recruit to perform studies on its product Anatabloc, testified Thursday that he was interested in learning more about the supplement even before he met the governor or first lady.

Defense attorneys for both Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, pressed the point as they cross-examined Crantz, attempting to show that the couple did not pressure him to support or study Anatabloc.

Crantz also lent some support to defense attorneys in the way he described the McDonnells’ relationship with Star chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. The doctor testified that Williams was treated like he was “very close” to the first couple, almost like a family member. That would undercut prosecutors’ assertion that their ties were all about business.

  • Rosalind S. Helderman
  • ·

Frank Crantz, a doctor with an office in Northern Virginia whom Star Scientific was attempting to recruit to perform studies on its product Anatabloc, says that after an event for health-care leaders at the governor’s mansion in February 2012, he was invited to go to dinner with Star chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr., Star consulting doctor Paul Ladenson and the McDonnells.

Crantz testified that he recalled Williams discussing Anatabloc at the dinner, which cost $1,423. The first lady, he said, chimed in and said she was taking the dietary supplement and believed it was helping her.

“Did the governor seem to be paying attention?” asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Faulconer.

“Yeah,” Crantz said.

He testified that another topic came up at the dinner: the mansion chef. Crantz said there was banter back and forth between the governor and Williams about “stealing someone’s chef.” Williams had earlier testified that the McDonnells hired his chef after firing Todd Schneider for allegedly stealing food from the mansion.

Williams said he and the governor were joshing back and forth on that topic in December 2012, when he received a photograph from the governor of McDonnell wearing the Rolex watch Williams had purchased for Maureen McDonnell to give to her husband as a gift.

Crantz testified that Ladenson had been promised that he and Crantz would return from Richmond that night, but when dinner ended Williams announced that it was too late for his pilot to fly. So, Crantz testified, he stayed over at the governor’s mansion.

Crantz earlier said he had never been to the governor’s mansion or met the McDonnells before that night.

Crantz agreed that at the time of these events, he did not know that the McDonnells had taken money from Williams. He also did not know that earlier that very day the governor had held a one-on-one meeting with Williams.

That was the meeting where McDonnell and Williams discussed ways the Star CEO could loan the family $50,000.

  • Laura Vozzella
  • ·

Jonnie R. Williams Sr. parked his SUV right in front of the governor’s mansion on a drizzly night in February 2012. Other guests had to park farther away and walk through the wet weather before getting inside.

But Williams and his passengers — including a Maryland doctor he was trying to woo into researching his product — were just steps away from the front door.

Now on the stand is Frank Crantz, a Maryland endocrinologist who got interested in Anatabloc after hearing from an old colleague who was a paid consultant to Star Scientific.

Crantz said that Paul Ladenson, a Johns Hopkins endocrinologist whom he knew as a doctor years earlier in Boston, alerted him to some mice studies on Anatabine, the tobacco-derived active ingredient in Williams’s dietary supplement.

There had been “indication of a positive effect in rodent models,” and Crantz wondered if the effect on thyroid disease would be similar on human subjects. He was considering using his own patients to move beyond those mice studies.

“I was seriously considering doing a study,” Crantz said. “It looked like, based on the rodent study, that this supplement might be helpful.”

Ladenson invited Crantz to an event at the governor’s mansion, and he received a paper invitation from then-Gov. McDonnell and his wife. The invitation, shown many times in evidence, bore the state seal.

Williams’s private jet picked up Ladenson in Maryland and Crantz at Dulles International Airport for the event. Williams was not on the plane, but he picked them up in his SUV at the Richmond airport and ferried them right to the mansion’s front door.

  • Matthew Zapotosky
  • ·

A Johns Hopkins University doctor who serves as a consultant to businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. and the company he ran, Star Scientific, testified Thursday that he could not have envisioned that his handful of interactions with Maureen McDonnell would ever receive so much scrutiny.

Patrizio Caturegli — who flew aboard Williams’s private jet with the first lady as she, Williams and others jetted around the country to talk about a Star product called Anatabloc — said he once talked with the first lady about possible studies involving state employees and that he followed up, at Williams’s request, with an e-mail. But responding to questions from Maureen McDonnell defense attorney Daniel R. Koffmann, he said the studies never happened and he never envisioned the note or the conversation would receive the attention that it did.

“If you asked me would this become such a big thing, I could never imagine … because I never heard anything back after that,” he testified.

That would seem to minimize prosecutors’ assertion that Maureen McDonnell and her husband, Robert F. McDonnell, conspired to use the official power of the governor’s office to promote Anatabloc. But later in his cross examination, Caturegli did lend their case some support.

Caturegli testified that he had never before met the governor himself, drawing a laugh from the courtroom when he called McDonnell a “good looking man” as defense attorney James Burnham pointed him out in court. Caturegli said he was supposed to meet McDonnell once, but instead went to Philadelphia to help his daughter move.

Soon after, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber asked Caturegli when, precisely, he would have met the governor. He said he was invited, along with other doctors, to go to “his home, or the state of Virginia home” for the “manifestation” or “sponsoring” of Anatabloc.

That, it would seem, lends significant support to the idea that an August 2011 lunch at the governor’s mansion was an official act meant to promote Williams’s product.

  • Laura Vozzella
  • ·

In her first interview with law enforcement, the former director of the governor’s mansion, Sarah Scarbrough, said she was not completely sure if an August 2011 luncheon held to mark Anatabloc’s arrival in stores was an official government function.

But Scarbrough had no trouble identifying whom the event was intended to benefit, the government or Jonnie Williams.

“Jonnie Williams,” she said.

Scarbrough made the remark as prosecutor Ryan Faulconer questioned the prosecution witness one last time on redirect.

His last Q-and-A with Scarbrough revived the launch-lunch debate. Prosecutors describe the mansion event as a launch party for Williams’s dietary supplement. Defense attorneys refer to it as a “lunch.”

When Faulconer asked Scarbrough a question about the “launch,” defense attorney John Brownlee leapt up to object. It was a lunch, not a launch, he said.

Judge James R. Spencer overruled the objection, saying, “The jury will decide.”

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