(Corrects headline to say ex-governor instead of governor)
By Gary Robertson
RICHMOND, Va. Aug 15 A federal judge on Friday
rejected defense motions that former Virginia Governor Robert
McDonnell and his wife be acquitted in their corruption and
U.S. District Judge James Spencer turned down the bids after
a one-hour hearing. The motions came after prosecutors wrapped
up their case against McDonnell, a Republican, and his wife
after almost three weeks of testimony.
Defense lawyers are expected to start calling witnesses on
Monday. The McDonnells face a 14-count indictment alleging they
accepted more than $165,000 in loans and gifts from businessman
Jonnie Williams Sr. in exchange for promoting his dietary
supplement company Star Scientific Inc and its main product,
McDonnell said after Spencer's ruling that he was looking
forward to Monday to be able to tell his story.
"Obviously this is crushing to be a defendant in a criminal
case. But I know in my heart what the truth is," McDonnell, 60,
told reporters outside the courthouse.
Lawyers for McDonnell had argued that prosecutors failed to
show that he carried out or promised to carry out any official
act for Williams.
The former governor's lawyers also said the government had
failed to prove that McDonnell made a false statement on a
TowneBank loan application by not disclosing a loan from
Williams on a personal financial statement.
Maureen McDonnell's lawyers argued that the governor had not
carried out any official acts for Williams and the former first
lady cannot be guilty as a private citizen.
They also said prosecutors failed to show she made a false
statement on a loan application to Pentagon Federal Credit Union
or tried to obstruct a grand jury proceeding.
Lawyers for the McDonnells have contended that the couple
could not have conspired with Williams because their marriage
was crumbling and they were not on speaking terms.
Defense lawyers have listed 121 potential witnesses for the
couple, twice the number prosecutors had listed. Jurors were
given Friday off.
McDonnell's four-year term ended in January. If the
McDonnells are convicted, each could face a prison sentence of
20 years and hefty fines.
(Editing by Ian Simpson and Bill Trott)