Final arguments given in sensational US former-governor's corruption trial

The Associated Press
August 29, 2014 05:55 PM

RICHMOND, Va. - Lawyers made their final arguments Friday in the case of a former-governor and his wife accused taking bribes in a five-week-long trial featuring soap opera-like details about the couple's fights, crumbling marriage and financial troubles.

Prosecutors say former-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell —a rising star in the Republican party who swept into office in a landslide five years ago — and his wife Maureen have been charged in a 14-count indictment that accused them of conspiracy and bribery. They don't dispute receiving the gifts and money, but say they were never asked to do anything in exchange for them.

The McDonnells were tried together, but had their own attorneys present to jurors, who were to return Tuesday to get their instructions from the judge before beginning their deliberations.

On Friday, the first time, Bob McDonnell's lawyer, Henry Asbill said specifically what the defence has been suggesting for the last five weeks — that the McDonnells' marriage was so strained they could not have colluded to get gifts from Williams.

"In private, they were silent. In private, they certainly weren't conspiring," Asbill said.

Prosecutor David Harbach said the McDonnells spoke several times in favour of a sketchy nutritional supplement called Anatabloc, and held a launch party for it at the governor's mansion.

Harbach urged jurors to focus on two questions: Why did Jonnie Williams, CEO of the company that made Anatabloc, shower the McDonnells with gifts and cash, and why did the McDonnells accept?

The answer, he said, was the McDonnells were badly in debt, and that Williams was willing to provide help if they would promote his tobacco-based supplement.


Associated Press Writers Larry O'Dell and Matthew Barakat contributed to this report.

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