McDonnell Trial Day 14: FBI Agent Continues Testimony
The prosecution wrapped up presenting its evidence in the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, Thursday 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.
On Wednesday FBI Special Agent David Hulser was both a summary witness and the last witness to testify for the prosecution. He said the FBI conducted 300 interviews and reviewed over 3.5 million documents in the course of its investigation into the McDonnells. Hulser presented charts, emails, and calendars to explain an overall timeline of the investigation. He also testified that the first couple had nearly $75,000 in credit card debt when Bob McDonnell took office in January 2010.
Thursday Hulser continued to draw connections between an overarching timeline of events supported by detailed communications and financial events that, the prosecution argues, show Williams, Maureen McDonnell and the governor intentionally traded political favors for gifts and loans.
Hulser offered further testimony about the McDonnells' finances and phone records. He detailed events regarding loans the McDonnells took out, including ones that came from Williams. His testimony also includes text messages between the couple, Williams and others involved with the loans. He presented slides on financial dealings, showing the amounts deposited and withdrawn from each of the accounts, as well as where that money then went. Other slides included communications records that were cross referenced with financial dealings, showing the money was coming in, who was texting about it, and who was calling whom. Communications between Williams, the McDonnells, Maureen McDonnell's stock broker John Piscitelli, and others were shown.
Hulser testified that the McDonnells had no hotel bill for a three-day Chatham Cape Cod trip. Credit card receipts show Jonnie Williams paid for the trip at a cost of $36,618. Documents show that at one point on the trip, the couple enjoyed a $1,300 meal of duck, salmon, and lobster Williams' tab.
Before the prosecution finished questioning Hulser, all the material gifts Williams gave the McDonnells was brought into the courtroom. Those gifts included an Oscar de la Renta dress, Louis Vuitton trench coat, handbags, the Rolex watch, and golf bags. Hulser testified that all the gifts and loans added up to more than $177,000.
On cross examination Hulser said the FBI did not record the governor's conversations or calls. He said they went by McDonnell's initial schedule, which he admitted changed a lot, and that his personal planner didn't always match his schedule or what he was doing. He also said they did not list phone calls under one minute. Hulser testified the FBI uncovered no calls or texts from Bob McDonnell to the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University or the Tobacco Commission.
Hulser stated the investigators did not look into phone calls or texts between Mary Shea Sutherland and Jonnie Williams and admitted those communications could be relevant.
Hulser also admitted the governor's credit card debts may have been high because he did not draw a salary during his campaign for governor. Bob McDonnell's attorney asked Hulser whether he knew that McDonnell resigned from being attorney general to run for governor. Hulser said he did not know one way or another.
Also during cross examination the jury learned that Maureen McDonnell spent 300 more minutes with Williams on the phone than her husband.
The prosecution rested its case around 4 p.m. U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer sent the jurors home for the weekend. Judge Spencer will hear arguments on motions Friday, the jury will not be there. In his comments to the jury, he told them "I wish I could go with you."
But the judge will remain in court to hear the defense's motion to dismiss the case and other arguments Friday. If the case is not dismissed as a matter of law, the defense will begin presenting evidence on Monday.
The McDonnells could face years in prison if convicted.
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