McDonnell character witness speaks about testimony

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A number of character witnesses took the stand on Tuesday’s hearing before former Governor Bob McDonnell received his sentence.

Bill Horan, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Operations Blessing International (OBI), was one of 11 who testified in support of McDonnell.

Afterwards, Horan spoke only to 10 On Your Side as he returned from Richmond Tuesday evening. He said he was disappointed McDonnell was sentenced to time in prison, but was grateful the judge showed mercy.

“But, personally, I am relieved that Judge Spencer definitely demonstrated some mercy in the sentence that he did give to the governor,” Horan said.

Special Coverage: McDonnell Trial

Although Horan had only met the former governor once before testifying in Richmond, he chose to stand behind the former governor in court.

“I think the world of him,” Horan said about McDonnell.

Horan also wrote a letter to the Honorable James Spencer suggesting McDonnell work for Operation Blessing, based in Virginia Beach, instead of going to prison.

Document: Horan letter to Judge Spencer

In the November 19, 2014 letter, Horan suggested McDonnell work for OBI in Haiti for three years of community service. He told a probation officer responded to the letter and said Judge Spencer would probably never allow McDonnell to leave the country for community service.

After speaking with the probation officer, Horan said he would give McDonnell an unpaid position in Bristol, Virginia for three years. Horan said he brought the proposal before the judge on Tuesday in Richmond.

“I guess it was somewhat intimidating,” said Horan of testifying. “I had a sense of responsibility, that I had to do a good job in articulating the facts and the proposal we had made.”

Horan said the room was full of more than just people: “There was a tremendous amount of emotion in the room, not just his family. His family was very emotional, but so many of his friends and the people that knew him.”

Horan said he is confident the former governor will be fine over the next two years, “and come out a little older, but maybe quite a bit wiser.”

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