RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife have been indicted on federal corruption charges, and a judge has refused McDonnell’s request to delay their first court appearance.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, says McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted Tuesday. The 14-count indictment includes conspiracy, wire fraud and other charges.
On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Novak gave no reason for rejecting McDonnell’s motion for a one-week delay of the couple’s bond hearing and arraignment while thier attorney is out of the country.
Now, the former governor and his wife will appear in U.S. District Court in Richmond on Friday morning.
The indictment returned Tuesday shows the McDonnells’ scheming, using businessman Jonnie Williams’ private jet and receiving more than $135 thousand in loans and gifts from him as well as more than $7 thousand in golf outings and thousands more for his daughter’s wedding. In exchange, the indictment alleges McDonnell arranged meetings for Williams, but in the end, McDonnell says Williams got nothing from his administration.
In a news conference Tuesday evening, Bob McDonnell addressed the public about the charges filed against him, claiming federal authorities are “stretching the law to its breaking point.”
“Law is clearly on our side,” he said. “ … I did nothing illegal.”
McDonnell left office earlier this month after four years in the governor’s office. A federal investigation overshadowed the final months of the only term as governor he is allowed under Virginia law. Authorities began looking into gifts the once-rising star of the Republican Party and his family received from a political donor and Richmond-area businessman.
In July, McDonnell apologized and said he had returned more than $120,000 in loans and other gifts from Johnnie Williams, the CEO of pharmaceutical company Star Scientific.
WAVY News 10’s Andy Fox sat down with former Gov. McDonnell in December and pressed him about the possible indictments. He asked McDonnell if he was confident he wouldn’t be indicted.
“I can’t. I can only say that I’m focused on what I can control,” McDonnell said. “Other people that are doing these reviews are doing them on their own timeframe.”
The time is here and so is the 14-count indictment, which includes charges of wire fraud, obtaining property under color of official right, and one count making false statements to a federal credit union.
The indictment paints a picture of the McDonnell family constantly with hands out to Jonnie Williams. The worst offender appears to be McDonnell’s wife, Maureen, who sent an email to a senior McDonnell staffer demanding an inaugural clothing budget.
“Bob is screaming about the thousands I’m charging up in credit card debt. We are broke … unconscionable amount in credit card debt … this inaugural is killing us,” Mrs. McDonnell wrote in the email.
Maureen McDonnell would tell Williams she couldn’t accept the inaugural dress from him, but would take a rain check, suggesting there was knowledge of what could and could not be done. Prosecutors say Williams would take Mrs. McDonnell on a $20,000 shopping spree.
“It’s been heartbreaking in some respects,” the former governor told WAVY.com in December. “Many of the things that have been alleged, and I think people have said things that just aren’t right, and there will be a time for me to comment on some of those things.”
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement Tuesday, following news of the McDonnells’ federal indictments:
I am obviously troubled by the charges that federal prosecutors have made against Governor McDonnell and his wife Maureen and the message that this period in our history sends about how government in this Commonwealth is run.
As this case progresses, it is my sincerest hope that justice will be served and that Virginians get the answers to which they are entitled. As Governor, I will remain focused on leading this Commonwealth in a way that restores Virginians’ trust in government and honors their expectation of transparency and accountability.
I want to thank the many federal and state public safety officials who have worked on this case for their tireless and impartial efforts. Dorothy’s and my thoughts and prayers are with the entire McDonnell family. This is a sad day for Virginia, but I remain optimistic that we can work together to reform our system in order to prevent episodes like this from occurring ever again.