(RICHMOND, Va.) — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen are charged with selling political favors in exchange for lavish gifts, trips, and shopping expeditions. This week jurors have heard scintillating testimony and jaw-dropping allegations from the prosecution’s star witness, Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams.
Everything from a $20,000 New York City shopping spree Williams took Maureen McDonnell on making stops at Louis Vuitton, Oscar de la Renta, and Bergdorf Goodman, to a $6,000 Rolex Williams bought for the governor at the request of his wife. So many of the tales are eyebrow raising, but much of it is detailed in the evidence entered in to court, including photographs of the then-first couple of Virginia enjoying Williams’ Ferrari and personalized engraving on the back of the pricey watch.
Williams testified, according to the Washington Post, that Maureen McDonnell upon seeing his luxury cars told him “it’d just be nice” if one was available to drive when the family vacationed at Williams’ vacation home on Smith Mountain Lake. Williams had the car delivered to the home and they ended up driving in the sports car during that trip.
The McDonnells drove Williams’ Ferrari back to Richmond after their trip to Williams’ lake house, but McDonnell has said this was a favor to the businessman so he could have it back in the Virginia capital.
Among the lavish gifts from Williams to the McDonnells was a Rolex watch costing more than $6,000, engraved with “Robert F. McDonnell, 71st Governor of Virginia.”
Williams testified the then-first lady said upon seeing Williams’ own Rolex said, “I’d really like to get one of those for the governor. He just wears these old watches.” Williams then said he told Maureen McDonnell, “Do you want me to get one of these watches for the governor?” Williams testified that she answered, “Yes, that would be nice.”
In his testimony, Williams has now said, “It was a bad decision on my part to buy that watch when she asked for it…I shouldn’t have had to buy things like that to get the help I needed.”
Maureen McDonnell has said she gave the watch to her husband as a Christmas gift.
Testimony also revealed a text message from the then-Virginia governor to Williams in May, 2012. In it, it seems as though the governor is asking for money. “Johnnie. Per voicemail would like to see if you could extend another 20k loan for this year,” McDonnell texts, misspelling Williams’ first name.
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