Charges dropped against ex-Va. governor
RICHMOND, VA. — Federal prosecutors dropped their corruption case against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Thursday, more than two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction.
Prosecutors indicated in court filings they do not want to pursue a second trial against the couple.
“After carefully considering the Supreme Court’s recent decision and the principles of federal prosecution, we have made the decision not to pursue the case further,” U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente’s office said in a statement.
The decision ends a years-long legal saga for the former governor and once-rising Republican star.
“Throughout this ordeal I have strongly proclaimed my innocence. I would never do, nor consider doing, anything that would violate the trust of the citizens of Virginia I served during 22 years in state elected office,” McDonnell said in a statement. “These wrongful convictions were based on a false narrative and incorrect law.”
McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were found guilty of doing illegal favors for wealthy vitamin executive Jonnie Williams in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans.
But the high court unanimously held in June that McDonnell’s actions were distasteful but didn’t necessarily violate federal bribery laws.
Williams, who was seeking state university research on his company’s signature anti-inflammatory product, loaned the couple tens of thousands of dollars to help them pay debts and keep their money-losing Virginia Beach vacation rental properties afloat. Williams bought nearly $20,000 in designer clothing and accessories for Maureen McDonnell and a Rolex watch for Bob McDonnell. He also paid for trips and golf outings for the couple and their children, and gave $15,000 for catering at McDonnell daughter’s wedding.
At issue in McDonnell’s case was a federal bribery law that makes it illegal for a public official to agree to take “official action” in exchange for money, gifts and other things of value.
In vacating McDonnell’s conviction, the Supreme Court ruled that setting up a meeting or organizing an event — without doing more — isn’t considered an “official act.” Bob McDonnell had been found guilty of doing illegal favors for a businessman.