Former First Lady of Virginia Sentenced to Prison
RICHMOND, VA—The former First Lady of Virginia, Maureen G. McDonnell, 60, of Glen Allen, Virginia, was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison, for soliciting and obtaining payments, loans, gifts and other items from Star Scientific, a Virginia-based corporation, and Jonnie R. Williams Sr., Star Scientific’s then chief executive officer, in violation of federal public corruption laws.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Adam S. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office; Richard Weber, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); and Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer.
Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, were convicted on Sept. 4, 2014, following a jury trial of one count of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right. Maureen McDonnell also was convicted of two counts of honest-services wire fraud and four counts of obtaining property under color of official right, while Robert McDonnell was convicted of three counts of honest-services wire fraud and six counts of obtaining property under color of official right. In total, Maureen McDonnell was convicted of eight of 13 counts and Robert McDonnell was convicted of 11 of 13 counts.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from April 2011 through March 2013, the McDonnell’s participated in a scheme to use the former governor’s official position to enrich themselves and their family members by soliciting and obtaining payments, loans, gifts and other things of value from Star Scientific and Jonnie R. Williams Sr. The McDonnell’s obtained these items in exchange for the former governor performing official actions to legitimize, promote and obtain research studies for Star’s products, including the dietary supplement Anatabloc.
According to evidence presented at trial, the McDonnell’s obtained from Williams more than $170,000 in direct payments as gifts and loans, thousands of dollars in golf outings, and numerous items. As part of the scheme, Robert McDonnell arranged meetings for Williams with Virginia government officials, hosted and attended events at the Governor’s Mansion designed to encourage Virginia university researchers to initiate studies of Star’s products and to promote Star’s products to doctors, contacted other Virginia government officials to encourage Virginia state research universities to initiate studies of Star’s products, and promoted Star’s products and facilitated its relationships with Virginia government officials.
The evidence further showed that the McDonnell’s attempted to conceal the things of value received from Williams and Star to hide the nature and scope of their dealings with Williams from the citizens of Virginia by, for example, routing gifts and loans through family members and corporate entities controlled by the former governor to avoid annual disclosure requirements.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael S. Dry, Jessica D. Aber, and Ryan S. Faulconer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Deputy Chief David V. Harbach II of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Richmond Division, IRS-CI, and the Virginia State Police.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:14cr12.