Tags: McDonnell conviction | McDonnells bribery and extortion | McDonnells sweetheart loans

McDonnell Juror: 'Evidence Staring You in the Face'

By    |   Friday, 05 September 2014 08:48 AM

Finding former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife guilty of public corruption was “a tough decision, but it was not a hard decision,” one juror, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Washington Post.

“It was a tough decision to make because of the governor’s 20-plus years of service to the country and to the Commonwealth,” the juror said. “It was hard and tough to see his family go through that. But when it came down to brass tacks, we knew the decision we had to make.”

Following a five-week trial and three days of deliberations, the seven-man, five-woman jury found that McDonnell, a Republican, engaged in conspiracy, bribery and extortion while holding the state’s highest office, according to The New York Times.

In all, the former governor was convicted on 11 counts, while his wife, Maureen, was found guilty on nine counts, including obstruction of justice. Both McDonnells were acquitted on a lesser charge of falsifying a bank record.

The charges stemmed from gifts and sweetheart loans the McDonnells accepted from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., former chief executive of the vitamin company Star Scientific.

The McDonnells, who according to court testimony had an estranged marriage despite presenting a public image as a happy, loving couple, sobbed as the verdicts were read, as did the many of the jurors.

Juror Robin Trujillo told the Post and Virginia television station WWBT that reaching the verdict made her “physically ill,” especially knowing that the decision could put the couple behind bars, but that the “law and facts” clearly supported guilty verdicts.

“We were comfortable with what we did, but we are still human beings,” she told the Post.

Another juror, requesting anonymity, told WTVR that the panel went into the case knowing the McDonnells were innocent until proven guilty. That assumption quickly faded.

“The evidence was staring you in the face,” the juror said.

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The couple’s defense was that they could not have possibly conspired to do anything because their relationship was almost non-existent. Instead, they argued, Maureen McDonnell had a crush on Williams, a wealthy executive.

“To Maureen, this was about getting away from Bob,” argued her lawyer, William A. Burck, according to the Times. “You might find the mild obsession with Jonnie a little weird,” he added. “But weird is not a crime.”

The McDonnells' lawyers plan to appeal the verdicts. Henry Asbill, who represents Bob McDonnell, said his client did not receive a fair trial and that the feds “sought to criminalize routine political behavior,” the Associated Press reported.

Sentencing has been set for Jan. 20. While each of the McDonnells faces up to 20 years for each count, it is anticipated that they will receive much lighter sentences.

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Finding former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife guilty of public corruption was "a tough decision, but it was not a hard decision," one juror told The Washington Post.
McDonnell conviction, McDonnells bribery and extortion, McDonnells sweetheart loans
Friday, 05 September 2014 08:48 AM
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