Ex-governor of Virginia in court on bribery charges

RICHMOND, Virginia — Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife are scheduled to make their first court appearances on federal bribery charges Friday.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were charged this week in a 14-count indictment with accepting bribes from the chief executive of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc.

The pair are scheduled to make an initial appearance and be arraigned in federal court, a court filing shows.

McDonnell and his wife are alleged to have accepted gifts that included cash, golf fees and clothing, according to the grand jury indictment.

The McDonnells, both 59, have denied the charges. If convicted, the couple could face decades in prison and fines totaling well over $1 million.

The indictment portrays McDonnell and his wife as short on money and unable to pay the bills for beachfront houses they owned but were renting out.

The relationship with Star Scientific founder and CEO Jonnie Williams began when Williams lent his private jet to McDonnell during his 2009 campaign for governor, according to the indictment.

The McDonnells got more than $135,000 in direct payments as gifts and loans, as well as thousands of dollars more in golf outings, according to the indictment.

Gifts to the couple and their family ranged from a $6,500 Rolex watch, wedding and engagement presents, money and a $15,000 shopping spree.

The indictment also alleges the couple attempted to conceal the gifts from Williams and failed to disclose loans from him.

Source: Reuters

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