Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen were charged in a federal indictment Tuesday with taking bribes from a businessman in exchange for political favors.
McDonnell, a Republican, becomes the first governor of Virginia to face criminal charges. He completed his four-year term in office just ten days ago.
He and his wife allegedly asked for money and gifts from Jonnie R. Williams, the former CEO of dietary-supplement company Star Scientific.
The 14-count indictment charged the couple with felonies including fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction. The fraud counts carry a maximum prison term of 10 years. Federal obstruction convictions are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The Justice Department is also seeking forfeiture of property worth $140,805.46, including multiple pairs of Louis Vuitton shoes, two sets of golf clubs, two iPhones, and a Rolex watch engraved with ’71st Governor of Virginia.’
The indictment alleges the couple solicited $120,000 from Williams for a company owned by McDonnell and his sister.
While in office, McDonnell headed the national Republican Governors Association. He was often spoken of as a potential candidate for vice president.
Williams also paid a $15,000 catering bill for the McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding in 2011, the DOJ said.
The Rolex he gave McDonnell cost $6,500. The first couple took trips in Williams’ private plane worth $80,000 and stayed at houses he owned. Williams also paid $15,000 for a New York City shopping trip by Maureen, according to the indictment.
Maureen McDonnell bought thousands of shares in Star Scientific in 2011 and promoted the company to investors in Florida. She also arranged meetings for Williams with Virginia health department officials. She and her husband hosted an event for Williams’ company in the governor’s mansion.
The Washington Post published details of the gifts and loans following an investigation last year.
McDonnell refused to resign and said he would repay $120,000 to Williams and give back the gifts.
Williams quit as CEO of Star Scientific CEO in December.
A copy of the grand jury indictment can be viewed and downloaded here.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.