The start of Day 12 of the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, was delayed … as lawyers for the prosecution and defense conferred together for some time in the judge’s chambers. Before testimony began, Judge James Spencer announced that a juror had been excused and an alternate would take his place—without explaining why that happened. The first witness afterwards was former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore.
Ex-Star Scientific Jonnie Williams had hired Kilgore to lobby for state funding, so he met with him in July, 2011. Williams’ expense report said McDonnell was there—but Kilgore said he was not. He told Williams that the Tobacco Commission was one funding source, and Kilgore proposed UVa and VCU researchers. He said he also could ask the governor to include funds in the budget, but a proposed meeting never took place. He added that McDonnell aide Jasen Eige called him to say it was inappropriate for the governor to influence the universities’ research decisions. Kilgore said no matter how he pushed back, no funds were ever forthcoming, and he stopped billing Star Scientific for lobbying.
VCU cardiologist George Vetrovec then testified that Williams tried to interest him in doing research. Williams took him to the Governor’s Mansion, where a reception for Steven Spielberg was being held to celebrate his movie, Lincoln. He said he met Spielberg with the first lady’s help.
He also said the McDonnells never talked to him about Star’s product, but that he himself was interested due to prior research on animals.
State Police Special Agent Charles Hagan testified that the investigation of the McDonnells began in 2012 as he looked into allegations that the former Mansion chef, Todd Schneider, had embezzled food. He said the FBI also become involved. Ultimately, there were three investigations: a state case connected to Schneider, a federal case related to Williams and possible securities fraud, and a federal case involving the McDonnells.