Monday, December 18, 2017
News Roundup

Jury chosen in former Va. governor's corruption trial

RICHMOND, Va. — A jury of eight men and four women was selected Monday in the trial of a former Virginia governor and his wife, who are charged with trading the influence of his office in exchange for thousands of dollars in gifts and loans from a businessman.

The panel for Bob and Maureen McDonnell's corruption trial was chosen from a pool of 150 potential jurors during a daylong process. Opening statements are set for today. The trial is expected to last five weeks.

Bob McDonnell, once a prominent up-and-comer in the national Republican Party, and his wife are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from the CEO of a dietary supplements company in exchange for helping promote his products.

U.S. District Judge James Spencer asked the potential jurors more than three dozen routine questions, including whether they knew or were related to any of the people involved in the case. When he asked those who had read or heard about the case to stand, almost all did. He asked those who still felt they could be fair to sit. They all sat.

Ten days after leaving office in January, McDonnell was indicted. Before the indictment, he apologized for what he described as bad judgment and said he repaid about $120,000 in gifts and loans, but he denied breaking any laws.

Prosecutors have countered that the McDonnells' willingness to help former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams on "an as-needed basis" and Williams' expectation of something in return, regardless of whether he received it, is enough to support a conviction. If convicted, the McDonnells could face decades in prison.

Williams is expected to testify under immunity as the prosecution's star witness.

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