Defense Rests in McDonnell Corruption Trial

Aug 27, 2014

Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky stops near the courthouse.

Former Governor Bob McDonnell’s defense team rested their case on Day 23 of his federal corruption trial …and then lawyers for Maureen McDonnell took a turn calling witnesses for the former first lady.

Their testimonies seemed to bolster defense assertions that ex-Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams pushed his gifts onto people who never asked for them…and that the former first couple’s marriage was troubled for years before they ever reached the Executive Mansion.

April Niamtu bought a plane ticket in 2011 to support her close friend, Maureen, at a convention in Utah. 

But she said Williams insisted that he fly them there. They were startled to learn that the plane was first being diverted to California. At Williams’ urging, they went to his event, and arrived to his request that Maureen speak.

She was tired and declined, but he pressed her, anyway. Niamtu said Maureen was “very trusting” and “very gullible.” 

Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky, the couple’s eldest daughter, said Maureen was often left to run the household alone as McDonnell’s career progressed. She would often hide purchases from her husband. When he found out, Maureen would yell, but McDonnell would not—to try to de-escalate the crisis. 

Zubowsky said the couple’s communication never improved. She said her mother seemed “mildly obsessed” with Williams.

At Zubowsky’s pre-wedding shower, Williams told the engaged couple by phone that he would buy them a generator. She told him “no,” but he later sent them a $10,000 check. They never spent it, and she did not tell her father. She said they returned the money last year after they  “realized that Jonnie himself was a criminal.”