Federal prosecutors drop charges against former VA gov. McDonnell, wife

Published: Sep. 8, 2016 at 6:18 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2016 at 2:12 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Prosecutors will drop all charges against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, according to a motion filed in US District Court.

The decision means the McDonnells will not face another trial on their corruption counts nor will they go to prison on their previous conviction, which has since been overturned by the US Supreme Court.

A jury convicted Bob McDonnell two years ago for accepting $175,000 in cash and gifts from businessman Jonnie Williams, who was peddling a diet supplement made from tobacco.

The McDonnells accepted checks from Williams to pay off outstanding debts and pay the caterer for his daughter's wedding. Williams also gave the couple a Rolex watch, took Maureen on a shopping spree in New York and let him use their a country club, vacation home, and Ferrari.

A federal jury found McDonnell guilty of corruption, but the Supreme Court threw the conviction out say prosecutor were too broad in instructing the jury on the definition of what was an "official act."

Maureen was found guilty on similar charges, but both cases were put on hold.

The US Attorney's Office posted on Twitter, "After carefully considering the Supreme Court's recent decision and the principles of federal prosecution, we have made the decision not to pursue this case further. The department thanks the trial team and its investigative partners for their outstanding work on this case."

Speaker Bill Howell released a statement expressing his support for the decision.

"There are no words to describe the relief I feel for Bob and his entire family. I applaud the Justice Department for honoring the unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court. Bob McDonnell has been a lifelong public servant. He was an excellent legislator, Attorney General, and Governor. I am confident history will reflect that. I have been amazed by the steadfastness of his faith throughout this ordeal. I am proud to be his friend." 

Former Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth Janet Kelly said in the minutes and hours after news of prosecutors dropping the charges made local and national headlines, she was able to speak with the governor and find out how he was doing.

"I've talked to him a couple times today, and he has appropriately relieved, grateful and full of hope for the first time in a long time," she revealed.

For Kelly, who served in McDonnell's cabinet for all of the governor's time in office between 2010 through 2014, she believed the day would come when McDonnell's case would be over.

"I knew this day would come, because I also believe that my core that he didn't break the lock," she explained. "And I also couldn't let myself not believe in the criminal justice system. I had to believe that it would work itself out eventually."

As time goes on, Kelly hopes that people will give Bob McDonnell a second look when it comes to what he accomplished while in office.

"But I think the McDonnell administration was very unique in its ability to get things done, get things done the right way, and get things done that people would care about," Kelly remarked.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Charges dropped against the McDonnells

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