RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – Bob and Maureen McDonnell will face a judge Friday morning in their first court appearance since being indicted on corruption charges.
Former Governor Bob McDonnell is confident of his innocence in the investigation where he and his wife are accused of corruption offenses. And that is no more evident than in his decision to reject a plea deal.
The Washington Post reports McDonnell rejected a plea deal in late December to plead guilty to a felony bank fraud charge — that has nothing to do with corruption during his term as Governor.
“He would have pleaded guilty to failing to disclose [Star Scientific CEO Jonnie] Williams’s loans on a list of liabilities included on an application to refinance the couple’s hefty mortgages,” The Post article reads.
The plea deal would allow his wife, Maureen, to avoid charges, despite the fact that she told federal prosecutors last summer that she felt responsible for the relationship with Williams that caused the investigation, the Post reports.
The failed behind-the-scenes plea discussions underscore the former governor’s strong assertion that prosecutors have stretched the law to ensnare a high-level official through the actions of his wife. He has emphatically insisted that he did nothing illegal in his interactions with businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. and made no agreements to assist his company, Star Scientific Inc.
It also provides a vivid illustration of the extent to which both of the McDonnells believe that it was the former first lady’s poor judgment in establishing a friendship with Williams that has landed the couple in legal peril.
The plea deal would also have kept the 14-count joint indictment from being released to the public, “as well as a bruising public trial that will probably put the internal dynamics of their marriage on full display,” reports The Washington Post article.
They both will plead not guilty to the charges stemming from giving false statements, the governor using his office to enrich himself and his family.
Defense Attorney Sonny Stallings said, “You ask me what would I do if I were representing Bob McDonnell? I would see what the government would do in the form of the pleas.”
There is no active plea deal, and it appears the McDonnells are digging in their heels to fight against what Bob McDonnell calls “over reaching” prosecution.
“Federal officials in Washington in their zeal to find a basis to charge Maureen and me have decided to stretch the law to the breaking point in this case,” McDonnell said Tuesday during a press conference.
Both McDonnells have different attorneys, but in the joint indictment, it clearly shows Maureen McDonnell as the aggressor in seeking gifts and money and loans from Richmond-area businessman Jonnie Williams.
Stallings adds, “I don’t know that he can throw his wife under the bus, but it appears she was the mover and the shaker going after these funds and going after these gifts.”