RICHMOND, Va. - The jury began deliberations Tuesday in the corruption case that could send former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife to federal prison if jurors conclude that the couple sold the influence of his office to a wealthy vitamin executive seeking legitimacy for his company's signature product.
U.S. District Judge James S. Spencer spent nearly two hours reading instructions to jurors before they filed out of the courtroom to decide the fate of a onetime rising Republican star who was widely considered a potential running mate for presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, just before the scandal broke.
Bob and Maureen McDonnell are charged in a 14-count federal indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts, trips and loan from Jonnie Williams, former CEO of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc., in exchange for special favours.
The seven-man, five-woman jury heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed a mountain of exhibits over the past five weeks.
Williams, the prosecution's star witness, testified under immunity that he spent lavishly on the McDonnells only to secure their help promoting and obtaining state-backed research for Star's tobacco-derived anti-inflammatory, Anatabloc.
Bob McDonnell testified he did nothing other than extend routine political courtesies to Williams. Maureen McDonnell did not testify.
The defence argued that the McDonnells' marriage was in such shambles that the couple could not have conspired because they were barely speaking.
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