Day 16 of the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife opened with Judge James Spencer thanking the jurors for being there—and saying that he had prayed for each of them last night.
That was a subtle reference to the loss of three jurors since the proceedings began.
The defense continued with its witnesses and meticulously focused on McDonnell’s sister and real estate business partner—who, like his wife, is also named “Maureen.”
Ex-Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams gave two loans for the siblings’ Virginia Beach properties, and prosecutors have said the McDonnells were desperate for money. With a Notre Dame and Harvard business education, McDonnell’s sister earned hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. She said while they knew seasonal rental income would ebb in the winter and need cash infusions or loans, she knew she could cover it.
Her husband oversaw the accounts, but got behind in payments and failed to tell her when she was very ill for nearly a year after childbirth.
Political analyst Bob Holsworth said he thought her testimony helped the defense.
“What she has done is put a different portrait on the extended family finances here. What she has said is that she certainly had resources—if need be—always to cover any shortfall. Secondly, beyond that, she even noted that they had a preference, she said, time and time again, for taking loans to cover these shortfalls, rather than using their own resources—suggesting that they got better rates on the loans than that she could make in the stock market and with some of her own investments.”
Ultimately, the former governor’s wife had arranged for a loan from Jonnie Williams that his sister initially knew nothing about. She said she thought Williams’ loans would be similar to an individual loan from a doctor friend that they quickly paid back.