McDonnell Trial Day 17: Defense Continues
The defense continued presenting its case in the public corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, in federal court in Richmond Tuesday.
The McDonnells are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's products.
Bob McDonnell's attorneys called five witnesses to the stand Monday as the trial entered its fourth week. Four were members of McDonnell's cabinet, and the other was director of a state tobacco commission. They testified that McDonnell never asked them to do anything to benefit nutritional supplements maker Star Scientific or its former CEO, Williams.
The first witness called to the stand Tuesday was Maureen McDonnell, Bob McDonnell's sister. She was the co-owner of MoBo Real Estate with Bob McDonnell. MoBo Real Estate received two loans totaling $70,000 from Williams.
Maureen began her testimony with her career history. She then testified about her relationship with her brother and his wife. Maureen described her relationship with her brother as wonderful, describing him as a father figure. She said they spent a lot of time together after she graduated from college and he was the most honest person she knew. She said he was not materialistic.
Maureen's description of her sister-in-law was different. She described her as having two sides, one of which was manipulative, deceptive, and unpredictable. She said you never knew if you'd get the 'sweet, tender Maureen or the other one.' She said her sister-in-law would conceal things from her brother and work a situation to her own benefit. She said the McDonnell's marriage went from bad to worse when he became governor, saying their communication broke down and she thought Maureen felt trapped in the marriage.
Maureen McDonnell then testified about the finances for MoBo Real Estate. She was listed as a managing partner for the LLC, which was set up to run the properties and handle property expenses. She said the account for the business was on operational account, designed to pay operating costs, it did not earn interest.
She testified her life changed dramatically in 2009 - she had a baby, was ill and on bed rest, and at the same time the market took a dive. She joked on the stand about the timing. She testified that MoBo was not a priority for her at the time. She said it took a toll on her marriage and she and Michael Uncapher eventually divorced. She spoke about a few trips she took with her family to try to reconcile. She said information about late payments was coming in during all this. She said she was ‘horrified' to later learn Uncapher wasn't taking proper care of the account, and that some bills were not handled. She also testified she later learned he was transferring funds to himself without authorization.
She testified that she and her brother bought second beach house, and that she thought it would be good for the family. She said she had a good job and had the money and never thought finances would be an issue. She also said she decided to rely on loans instead of her own money to handle those operating things.
She said that between 2011 and 2012 her marriage was going through various reconciliations. One of the last attempts was a trip to Jamaica. She said when she returned she received odd messages from Maureen about a check from Starwood, Williams' company, with instructions to not cash or deposit it, and to call her. She said she attempted unsuccessfully to call Maureen after she recovered from a sinus infection. She said she called her brother, talking mostly about the trip and her relationship with her husband, but she could hear Maureen screaming in the background, yelling at Bob that she worked on the loan from Williams, not Bob.
Maureen stated she had notes on her own calendar about Bob talking to her about this loan. The notes included information on interest at 2.5 percent and a balloon payment. She said it was decided that it would be better to take the loan, she could make more money on other investments she had. She testified several times that there were other priorities for her at the time, including her failing marriage. She said she also discovered her husband was taking money without authorization.
She testified about giving MoBo bookkeeper Brenda Chamberlain direct access to the MoBo accounts, before the FBI's interview with Maureen McDonnell. She testified that she also had an interview with the FBI that lasted for five hours. She said she initiated her interview with the FBI.
Following Maureen McDonnell's testimony, Kathleen Scott, a special assistant to the former first lady, took the stand. Scott described Maureen McDonnell as difficult and prone to angry outbursts. She testified that her ex-boss became increasingly volatile as she prepared for public appearances. Other witnesses have described similar behavior. Scott also testified that Maureen McDonnell seemed infatuated with Williams and would "light up" when his name was mentioned.
The final witness for the day was accountant J. Allen Kosowsky. He testified about former Governor Bob McDonnell's finances.
The defense will continue presenting its case Wednesday morning.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.