Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are currently standing trial on federal corruption charges that began this week with surprisingly personal revelations about the McDonnells' marriage.
The couple stands accused of accepting over $165,000 in lavish gifts and loans from a friend of the family. That friend, Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, was much more than that, according to opening statements in the courtroom.
Attorneys for the McDonnells say the couple couldn’t have conspired to use his office for personal gain because they suffered “a broken down” marriage and were “barely on speaking terms.”
Maureen McDonnell “was angry for not having enough money, she was angry at [McDonnell] for not spending enough time at home with her, and she hated him for not being available,” attorney John Brownlee, who is representing the former governor, said in court. “Bob and Maureen’s communication broke down almost entirely … this tore their marriage apart.”
Mrs. McDonnell has her own attorney who told the court that with the marriage collapsing, Maureen McDonnell latched onto Williams, whom she had come to regard as her “favorite playmate.”
“Unlike the other man in her life, Jonnie Williams paid attention to Maureen,” her attorney William Burck said.
Williams showered her with high-end designer gowns and handbags, loaned the family his Ferrari, and even financed $15,000 of her daughter’s wedding. Earlier this year, ABC News put together a list of some of the most eye-popping details from the 43-page indictment against the McDonnells:
“I need to talk to you about Inaugural clothing budget. I need answers and Bob is screaming about the thousands I’m charging up in credit card debt. We are broke, have an unconscionable amount in credit card debt already, and this Inaugural is killing us!! I need answers and I need help, and I need to get this done.”
The indictment says Maureen McDonnell told Williams she could not accept the dress, but she would take him up on a “rain check.” Over a year later, Williams took Maureen McDonnell on a New York City shopping spree where he “spent approximately $10,999 at Oscar de la Renta, approximately $5,685 at Louis Vuitton, and approximately $2,604 at Bergdorf Goodman,” according to the indictment.
In late July 2011, the McDonnell family spent time at Jonnie Williams’ vacation home on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia.
Before the trip, Maureen McDonnell called Williams “to ask whether JW’s Ferrari would be at the house” for her husband to drive, the indictment reads. Williams had a Star Scientific employee drive the Ferrari from Richmond to Smith Mountain Lake.
Days later, “Maureen McDonnell sent an email to JW that contained no text but had an attached picture of Robert McDonnell driving JW’s Ferrari,” the indictment says.
“Maureen McDonnell told JW that she wanted JW to buy a Rolex for Robert McDonnell. JW subsequently bought a Rolex for Robert McDonnell,” the indictment reads.
Maureen McDonnell later gave the watch to her husband as a Christmas gift.