Va. Beach mayor testifies in McDonnell trial

Private meetings with judge delay Tuesday start

RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WAVY) — U.S. District Judge James Spencer met twice in chambers with lawyers Tuesday morning before convening court in the trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The judge announced that a juror had been dismissed and was replaced by an alternate. He gave no explanation.

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Between the two closed meetings, a somber Bob McDonnell sat at the defense table with his back to his wife and stared at the wall for several minutes.

The McDonnells are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company’s nutritional supplements.

WAVY News’ Andy Fox spoke briefly with Bob McDonnell Tuesday walking into federal court, and asked him about Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, who was set to take the stand Tuesday.

“I cannot comment on the evidence,” Bob McDonnell said.

Sessoms testified about loans the McDonnells had with his bank back in 2005. Federal prosecutors believe the McDonnells failed to report loans from Williams on their annual report to Mayor Sessoms’ bank.

Sessoms also would not comment on the trial as he exited the courthouse Tuesday. But his testimony eluded McDonnell has a number of late fees on two of his loans approved by Sessoms. The loans were personally guaranteed by McDonnell.

When U.S. attorneys asked Sessoms if there were any loans listed from Jonnie Williams or Starwood Trust, the answers from Sessoms were always, “no.”

Jerry Kilgore, Virginia’s onetime attorney general, began testifying Monday and faced more questions Tuesday. Kilgore, who left office in 2005, is now a private attorney. He represented Williams in his unsuccessful bid to obtain a state grant for research.

Kilgore testified that Williams repeatedly told him the McDonnells supported his efforts.

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