Corruption Trial Day 10: Former Star Scientific Chief Counsel Testifies
Day 10 of the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, focused primarily on the revelations of Star Scientific’s ex-chief counsel, Paul Perito. Perito says he warned then-CEO Jonnie Williams that he was treading into dangerous territory when he started cultivating a relationship with the McDonnells to achieve his goal of promoting the company's products.
Perito says he was wary of the political ramifications of having the state's chief executive associated with the product Anatabloc. Williams softened him up, and for a while the notion of having leading doctors suggest Anatabloc to their patients with support from the first couple—was exciting. After Tobacco Commission Chair Terry Kilgore's name was thrown around, company executives were under the impression that Star Scientific would be considered for a grant to further develop and promote the tobacco-based pill. But Perito says Williams came to him—and was furious that during a conference call with UVa and VCU medical professionals, they had not even considered the notion. Perito says he eventually warned Williams again to distance himself from the McDonnells when Maureen wanted to be on Star Scientific's Board of Directors AND her Chief of Staff tried to obtain a job with the company. He says Williams sobbingly revealed to him last year that he was under federal investigation after showering the couple with gifts and loans out of his own pocket.