McDonnell Trial: Prosecution Rests in Former Va. Governor Trial

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, right, and his wife Maureen, center, leave Federal court after a motions hearing in Richmond, Va., Monday, May 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

    An FBI agent testified Thursday that former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife spent many nights together in the governor's mansion, a final effort to undercut the defense argument that the couple's failing marriage made a conspiracy implausible.

    The agent was the final witness jurors heard from in the McDonnells' public corruption trial.

    Jurors were sent home after the prosecution rested Thursday. They will return Friday morning for closing arguments, set to begin at 9:30 a.m. They'll then begin deliberations on the 14 charges against Bob and Maureen McDonnell -- punishable by up to decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

    The McDonnells are accused of taking more than $177,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's supposed cure-all, the tobacco-derived anti-inflammatory Anatabloc.

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    Defense attorneys have suggested the McDonnells' marriage was so fractured that they couldn't have conspired with each other to get gifts and loans from Williams. Maureen McDonnell's attorney said the first lady developed a "crush" on Williams, but Williams testified they weren't even friends -- that the relationship was strictly business.

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    Williams said under immunity that he spent lavishly on the McDonnells only to get their help as he sought credibility for the product and state-backed research on its effectiveness.

    When asked Thursday if he forgives Williams, Bob McDonnell replied, "Sure."

    The last witness for the prosecution was FBI agent Kathryn Weber, who analyzed the McDonnells' cellphone records and 3,000 calendar pages, concluding that the couple spent 89 percent of their nights together during the 22 months that were the focus of the investigation.

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    Most of the nights together were in the governor's mansion, Weber testified, but some were on trips.

    The testimony was intended to undercut the marital discord theory promoted by the defense.

    Bob McDonnell's attorney, John Brownlee, challenged Weber's methodology and conclusions, rattling off 20 occasions when McDonnell did not arrive at the governor's mansion until 11 p.m. or later, implying that the couple couldn't have had much time together on those nights.

    Brownlee also pointed to several blank daily calendars for Maureen McDonnell, which the FBI agent counted as nights at the mansion.

    Weber said she was not aware that Maureen McDonnell sometimes spent the night at the couple's private home in suburban Richmond.

    Prosecutor Jessica Aber suggested that the few instances raised by Brownlee did not substantially alter the overall picture of how often the McDonnells were together.

    The former governor spent more than four days on the witness stand proclaiming his innocence and describing how his marriage deteriorated as he climbed the political ladder. He testified that communication between him and his wife was perfunctory at best, and he avoided his wife to escape her anger.

    As part of Maureen McDonnell's defense, the couple's eldest daughter, Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky, detailed a difficult relationship between her parents and discussed her mother's "mild obsession" with Williams.

    Zubowsky testified that her father was around less and less after he entered politics, and for him, "kids were a priority and my mom came last."

    To cope, her mother would drink and take long baths, Zubowsky told jurors. "I think she was depressed, so she'd try to escape," she said.

    During a break, her mother cried and supporters consoled her, and her father appeared to wipe a tear from his eye.

    When asked if Williams and her mother were good friends, Zubowsky said yes. When asked if they were business associates, she said no.

    Among the gifts from Williams was a $10,000 monetary wedding gift to Zubowsky, which she and her husband later returned.