McDonnell Corruption Trial Day 12: Juror Dismissed, Kilgore and Special Agent Testify

Posted: Updated: Aug 12, 2014 09:04 PM
Former Governor Bob McDonnell Former Governor Bob McDonnell
Former first lady Maureen McDonnell Former first lady Maureen McDonnell
Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore
Dr. George Vetrovec Dr. George Vetrovec

Virginia's former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore was back on the witness stand Tuesday in the public corruption trial of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, in federal court in Richmond.

The McDonnells are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's nutritional supplements.

The start of testimony was delayed because a juror was dismissed. U.S. District Judge James Spencer met in chambers with lawyers before convening court and announcing that a juror had been dismissed and was replaced by an alternate. Two alternate jurors remain. He gave no explanation as to why the juror was dismissed. A somber Bob McDonnell sat at the defense table, sometimes with his back to Maureen McDonnell and stared down and at the wall for several minutes.

After the juror was dismissed, Kilgore returned to the stand. Kilgore, who left office in 2005, is now a private attorney with the same Virginia-based law firm that currently represents Jonnie Williams. He testified that Williams had recruited his help in finding ways to promote Star Scientific's supplements. During cross examination, Kilgore said that Williams didn't receive anything from him and he didn't act on many items on a to-do list he made to obtain state grant funding for research. On Monday Kilgore had testified that Williams repeatedly told him the McDonnells supported his efforts.

Emily Rabbitt, the former deputy director of scheduling and travel aide to Bob McDonnell took the stand Tuesday morning. Rabbitt testified about riding in an elevator with the McDonnells. She said she thought she heard Bob McDonnell mention the word "stock" in a conversation the couple had. She also said Bob McDonnell may have taken some Anatabloc while in the elevator.

Dr. George Vetrovec, a Virginia Commonwealth University cardiologist, was the next witness to take the stand. Vetrovec testified about his experiences with Jonnie Williams.  The jury heard about Maureen McDonnell's great cookies and a meeting in the mansion with Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg. It was part of the treatment Vetrovec said Williams gave him to promote Anatabloc research. Vetrovec testified that in 2011 Williams whisked him away in a fancy car and took him to the Executive Mansion for cookies from the first lady. He testified he did not get a cookie, but instead he got to meet Spielberg who was at the mansion promoting a his movie about president Lincoln.

The next witness called to the stand was Virginia State Police Special Agent Charles Hagan, who testified about how the investigation into the McDonnells began.  He said that initially that initially the federal and state governments planned to interview Maureen McDonnell about the allegations that Todd Schneider, the executive chef at the governor's mansion, was stealing food. But, in the course of that investigation, they learned that Williams had made a $50,000 loan to Maureen and paid for some of the catering at the McDonnells' daughter's wedding. On cross examination, Hagan said he investigated the McDonnells for more than 18 months before he first interviewed Maureen.

Hagan testified in detail on direct and cross examination about the interview he and another agent held with Maureen in February 2013. He said, on direct, that when they spoke with her, she described Williams as a “long-time friend of the family."  But, on cross, Hagan admitted his notes did not say the friendship was "long-time." On direct, Hagan said Williams and the governor had met after he left the Army and was working at a supply company. Also on direct, Williams said, when asked about the $50,000 loan, Maureen McDonnell said it was a personal loan from Williams, she had signed a contract for it and was periodically paying it back. He said that when he asked for copy of the contract she said she'd have to talk to Williams, saying she wasn't sure if she still needed to sign it. He said that Maureen McDonnell did not request an attorney for the interview nor did Hagan mention she could request one because, at that time, he said Maureen McDonnell was not in custody or an official target of the investigation. 

On cross examination, Hagan testified about details of the investigation into the McDonnells.  He said that at one time they followed Chris Young, the husband of the McDonnells' daughter Cailin.  He also said that the governor's security detail was not just protecting him, they were also investigating the governor for the government.  Members of McDonnells' security detail were asked to pull lists of gifts. Though Hagan said he did not request it, he conceded at least one guard sent him notes of the governor's conversations he attempted to overhear while guarding the governor.

Donnie Williams, the brother of Jonnie Williams, was called to the stand. Williams testified about work he performed at the McDonnell home at the request of his brother. He testified his brother said he would pay for the work.   (See trial exhibits: texts between Donnie Williams and Maureen McDonnell concerning work)  Donnie testified that Maureen McDonnell did eventually request an invoice for the work. (See trial exhibits: Email and invoice for work on house)

William Sessoms Jr., the mayor of Virginia Beach and the president of TowneBank, was the next witness called to the stand. He testified about loans the bank made to MoBo Real Estate, the company owned by Bob McDonnell and his sister. (See trial exhibits:  loan documentation from TowneBank).

As court ended for the day, the judge spent several minutes warning the jurors not to talk about the case with anyone and not to do any independent research. The judge said he wants to be sure both sides get a fair trial. Court will reconvene Wednesday morning. Sessoms is expected to continue his testimony.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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