arguments expected in trial of Virginia ex-governor, wife

SHAFAQNA –  Closing arguments were scheduled on Friday in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, who are charged with accepting gifts and sweetheart loans from a businessman.

U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer prepared instructions for the jury after prosecutors wrapped up their case on Thursday. It was unclear whether Spencer would require the jury to deliberate over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

McDonnell, a Republican, and his wife, Maureen, face a 14-count indictment charging they accepted $177,000 in gifts and loans from dietary supplement entrepreneur Jonnie Williams Sr. in exchange for promoting his company and its main product, the anti-inflammatory Anatabloc.

Prosecutors say that to win their case they must prove that the McDonnells conspired to help Williams and it does not matter whether their efforts were successful or not.

Defense attorneys contend the prosecution has to show that Williams received a significant benefit from his gifts and loans. They contend the McDonnells could not have been involved in a conspiracy because they rarely saw or talked to each other.

McDonnell testified that he had only performed routine courtesies for Williams, the chief executive of Star Scientific Inc, and that Williams had never specifically asked him to do anything.

If the McDonnells are convicted of all charges, they could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and face hefty fines. McDonnell’s term as governor ended in January.

(Reporting by Gary Robertson; Editing by Ian Simpson and Doina Chiacu)

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