Tags: Supreme Court | Bob McDonnell | Virginia | corruption

Supreme Court to Hear Va. Ex-Gov. McDonnell's Corruption Appeal

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(AP)

Friday, 15 Jan 2016 05:27 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell's appeal of his conviction on corruption charges involving a businessman seeking to promote a dietary supplement.

McDonnell, once a rising star in the Republican Party, and his wife, Maureen, were convicted in 2014 of taking $177,000 in gifts and loans from Virginia businessman Jonnie Williams in a trial that laid bare the couple's financial and marital troubles.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in the coming months and issue a ruling by the end of June.

"I am very grateful to the U.S. Supreme Court for its decision today to hear my case. I am innocent of these crimes and ask the court to reverse these convictions," McDonnell said in a statement.

A federal judge sentenced McDonnell to two years in prison, but the Supreme Court last year decided he would not have to report to prison until he completes his appeals process.

Prosecutors during the trial in the state capital Richmond depicted the luxurious lifestyle the McDonnells enjoyed thanks to gifts and sweetheart loans from Williams including vacations, designer clothing and shoes, a Rolex watch, $15,000 for their daughter's wedding and more.

McDonnell, 61, was convicted of 11 corruption counts including conspiracy, bribery and extortion for taking the loans and gifts in exchange for promoting a dietary supplement called Anatabloc made by Williams' company Star Scientific.

McDonnell's wife was found guilty of nine criminal counts and received a one-year sentence.

McDonnell's lawyers said the former governor's conduct did not constitute "official action" in exchange for a thing of value, as required for conviction under federal bribery law. The actions in question "were limited to routine political courtesies: arranging meetings, asking questions and attending events," the lawyers wrote in court papers.

On behalf of the federal government, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli responded in court papers that the convictions were based on "the unexceptionable proposition that a public official violates federal corruption statutes where, as here, he accepts personal benefits in exchange for his agreement to influence government matters."

McDonnell served as governor from 2010 to 2014 and was considered a potential player in national politics, having been mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for 2012 Republican White House nominee Mitt Romney. Instead, he became the first Virginia governor convicted of criminal charges.

The Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld McDonnell's conviction in July 2015.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell's appeal of his convictions on corruption charges involving a businessman seeking to promote a dietary supplement.
Supreme Court, Bob McDonnell, Virginia, corruption
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2016-27-15
Friday, 15 Jan 2016 05:27 PM
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