McDonnells plead not guilty; prepare for lengthy trial - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

McDonnells plead not guilty; prepare for lengthy trial

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen plead "not guilty" to federal corruption charges in Richmond. They remain free until their trial, scheduled for July.

The couple arrived at the courthouse surrounded by family members and supporters. Federal authorities claim that McDonnell gave special benefit to Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for expensive gifts.   McDonnell denies the accusations, saying he has done nothing illegal.

A lot happened today in the federal courthouse and it all went down in less than two hours. Soon the fate of the former First Family will be in the hands of a jury of their peers.

It was a walk, former Governor McDonnell never expected to be making.

"Morning," McDonnell said as he entered the courthouse on Broad Street.  

He and his wife swiftly entered without taking questions. Inside, the process of answering federal corruption charges began. The McDonnells appeared in two hearings. The first proceeding was a bond hearing where they were released on without having to post any money, but forced to surrender their passports. The judge in that court room admonished the attorneys for attempting to try the case in the media. 

In the arraignment hearing, which took place about an hour later, Mrs. McDonnell greeted each person there for support warmly. Mr. McDonnell went directly to his seat before turning around to acknowledge his family and friends.

As the hearing began Judge James Spencer made the decision to move the trial from April to July 28th and after consulting both attorneys, chose to leave at least six weeks for the trial.

He too made it clear to both sides that the trial was going to take place in the courtroom, not in the media. Spencer said it would quote not be a trial by "press conference or press release".

The McDonnells then were forced to exit to a tight throng of media. They quickly jumped into a waiting car before riding off. They will return in seven months for the trial that will determine their future.

The scene was intense today, but it will probably be a much different picture in seven months, primarily because of the weather. Right now we are dealing with the coldest time of the year; the end of the July could the hottest time of the year.

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