Prosecution questions Virginia ex-governor in corruption trial

RICHMOND Va. Mon Aug 25, 2014 4:17pm EDT

Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell arrives with his legal team for his trial in Richmond, Virginia, July 28, 2014.  REUTERS/Jay Westcott

Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell arrives with his legal team for his trial in Richmond, Virginia, July 28, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jay Westcott

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RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell testified on Monday that his finances were in good shape as he underwent prosecution questioning in the fifth week of his federal corruption trial.

McDonnell, 60, testified under cross-examination that he did not need money from businessman Jonnie Williams Sr. The dietary supplement entrepreneur is alleged to have given McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, $177,000 in gifts and loans to promote his company.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Dry pointed to emails from Maureen McDonnell and the governor's sister expressing concern about financial problems.

Dry asked McDonnell, a Republican, if both his wife and his sister were exaggerating financial problems.

"Yes,” the former governor said.

“You’re not broke, right?” Dry asked during a tense exchange with McDonnell.

“Yes,” said McDonnell, who is in his fourth day of testimony.

Dry then pointed to the $50,000 loan that Williams gave Maureen McDonnell and the $70,000 in loans to McDonnell through the corporation that McDonnell and his sister had set up to run beach properties.

McDonnell said he and his sister had agreed to borrow money rather than invest their own funds.

Dry said McDonnell and his sister also had borrowed $50,000 from a friend and more than $100,000 from their father. They also had several mortgage loans with financial institutions, he said.

McDonnell said his wife had not asked for Williams' $50,000 loan but Williams had offered it.

He said he was confident that his wife would be able to repay the loan because she was earning $36,000 a year on the board of a non-profit group founded by a campaign donor.

McDonnell and his wife face a 14-count indictment for allegedly taking the gifts and loans from Williams in exchange for promoting his company, Star Scientific Inc, and its dietary supplement product Anatabloc.

Under questioning from one of his wife’s attorneys, McDonnell said he had urged her to had get mental health counseling to help control her frequent angry outbursts.

McDonnell's strained marriage is a key part of the defense strategy in U.S. District Court. Lawyers for the couple contend that they could not have conspired since they were barely on speaking terms.

If convicted on all charges, the McDonnells could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and face hefty fines. McDonnell's four-year term as governor ended in January.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Bill Trott)

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