McDonnell Corruption Trial Day 3: Williams, Assistant Testify
Testimony in the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen continued in U.S. District Court Wednesday.
Testimony in the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen continued in U.S. District Court Wednesday. The McDonnells are accused of taking gifts in return for political favors.
In a 14-count indictment, they are charged with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his dietary supplements company. According to court documents, the gifts included a Rolex watch, designer clothing, golf trips and $15,000 for his daughter's wedding expenses.
The McDonnells face decades in prison if they are convicted.
Tuesday was an emotional and surprising day of testimony as opening statements got underway. The defense spent most of day two painting the picture of a broken marriage. The prosecution said the McDonnells were lining their pockets with secret cash and that they went to great lengths to hide it. Read more about day two here.
The trial resumed Wednesday morning with Jonnie Williams’ assistant Jerri Fulkerson continuing her testimony. Fulkerson testified about the McDonnell family's use of Williams’ plane, vacation spots, and cars. She was responsible for making many of the arrangements. The prosecution showed her evidence, like expense reports and emails, and then asked her questions about them.
According to Fulkerson's testimony, Williams was known to give lavish gifts to female friends. Fulkerson testified that Williams sent gifts to a female friend in South Carolina in 2003 and 2004.
Fulkerson said that she did not know how much Williams and Maureen talked because she did not record his calls or monitor his phone. When asked if she was aware of 1,200 calls and text messages the two exchanged, she said she was not. But she did admit knowing they traveled together to Michigan and California.
She testified that gifts from Williams to the McDonnells included a trip to Williams' Smith Mountain Lake home with the delivery of Williams’ Ferrari and a boat. He also arranged for a car for the McDonnell's daughter Rachel to drive on a separate trip.
Fulkerson testified about another trip to Bar Harbor, Maine that they couldn't go on at the last minute due to a hurricane. She says other arrangements were made at the Ritz Carlton for the McDonnell daughters in Florida. Fulkerson also said Williams paid $50,000 to MoBo Realtors and then $20,000 to the same company for a beach house. MoBo Realty is owned by Bob McDonnell and his sister.
Fulkerson admitted Williams bought a plane with money from his children's trust and that Jerry Kilgore, Ken Cuccinelli and Mitt Romney requested or used the plane. She also said the Star Scientific product Anatabloc was sent to Cuccinelli's mother.
Fulkerson said she made calls so Williams could purchase a generator for Jeannie McDonnell, the McDonnell’s daughter, as a wedding gift. Ultimately, Fulkerson testified it was too difficult to get the generator so Williams gave a $10,000 check and airline tickets to the couple as a wedding gift.
The defense questioned Fulkerson at length about allegedly violating the law for not properly notarizing documents and not including gift declarations on government forms. Fulkerson said she could not submit government forms she did not receive and when she received them she submitted them. The Defense also questioned Fulkerson about the level of immunity that she received in return for her testimony. She said she wanted protection for what she said.
After a break for lunch, witnesses who testified about golf gifts took the stand, including a general manager of a prominent golf club. He testified Bob McDonnell never paid for a round of golf at his club.
In the late afternoon, McDonnell's son, Robert Ryan "Bobby" McDonnell, took the stand. He testified about his relationship with Williams, saying he viewed Williams as a mentor. He said he believed his relationship with Williams was separate from his parents and the ensuing controversy.
Jonnie Williams, the government's key witness, began testifying shortly after 4:30 Wednesday afternoon. He took the stand under the cloak of immunity. Attorneys for the McDonnells have questioned Williams character, saying he has changed his story for immunity.
Williams testified that he gave McDonnell and his wife money because it was a business relationship, not because they were friends. He testified he needed McDonnell’s help, and as governor, he was in a position to help secure state sponsored research. Williams detailed some of what he paid for the McDonnells, including a $20,000 shopping spree in New York City.
Court adjourned for the day, the prosecution will pick up its case Thursday at 9:30 a.m., with Williams back on the stand.