Maureen McDonnell’s role in indictment can’t be overlooked

Posted at 9:12 PM, Jan 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-23 10:37:33-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The headlines may be focused on former Governor Bob McDonnell's indictment and pending court date, but if you read the 43 page document - the role of First Lady Maureen McDonnell, who is also indicted, cannot be overlooked.

Bob and Maureen McDonnell were indicted on a combined 14 counts including Honest-Services Wire Fraud, Obtaining Property under Color of Official Right, making False Statement, and Obstruction of Official Proceedings.

Despite admitting in a 2009 email, before her husband's inauguration (on page five of the indictment) that she was "broke" with "unconscionable" credit card debt, the indictment attempts to portray a woman who lived well above her means.

And with other details that include golf trips, flights, vacations and cars, the point is made that the first family was living beyond its means.

The indictment alleges that in April 2011, the First Lady asked political donor Jonnie Williams, former CEO of Star Scientific, to spend over $10,000 at Oscar de la Renta, over $5,000 at Louis Vuitton, and over $2,600 at Bergdorf Goodman.

Then, as promised, Williams' was seated next to then Governor McDonnell at a Union League Club event.

Later, in August 2011, Mrs. McDonnell would ask Williams to buy a Rolex watch for her husband - which he did - as well as provide a Ferrari for the McDonnell's personal use.

The McDonnells first met Williams,  in 2009, at the Four Season's Hotel in New York City. It was then that Maureen asked Williams for help buying an inaugural dress. He agreed, but a staffer told Maureen that "purchase of a designer dress for the inauguration would be inappropriate and should not be done."

The obvious question is why couldn't the McDonnells buy the items themselves?

After all, McDonnell was one of the highest paid governors in the country with an annual salary of $175,000. They also lived rent free in the Governor's Mansion.

"It doesn't matter if you make $175,000 a year if your spending $200,000 worth," Sonji Rollins Tucker, a financial adviser and assets manager, told CBS 6.

Rollins Tucker explained the McDonnells struggled just like thousands of other Virginians after the housing bubble collapse. That's when recent McDonnell real estate purchases depreciated.

The indictment states that the real estate company owned by the McDonnells, MoBo, had two Virginia Beach properties that required capital infusions of up to $60,000 annually to meet mortgage payments and other expenses.

"No one really sat down and did the calculation," Tucker added.

Even if they could not afford the lifestyle they lived and housing they owned, the first count against the couple is that they devised and intended to devise "a scheme and artifice to defraud the citizens of Virginia of their right to the honest services of the Governor of Virginia through bribery, to transmit and cause to be transmitted by means of wire communication in interstate commerce writings, signs, signals, pictures, and sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme and artifice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343."

The indictment chronicles at length the stock purchase made by Mrs. McDonnell.

She purchased stock with money allegedly given to her by Williams in June 2011. The value of 6,000 shares of Star Scientific was approximately $31,079. She bought more in August.

Later in December 2011, Mrs. McDonnell sold the stock, and "made it clear to the Brokerage Firm A broker overseeing the account that the sale of the Star Scientific stock had to occur before year-end in order to avoid annual reporting requirements."

Then, after Mr. McDonnell made his statement of economic interest, in which he didn't declare he owned securities in excess of $10,000 invested in any one business, Mrs. McDonnell repurchased stock.

On or about January 20, 2012, Mrs. McDonnell used all of the sale proceeds in her Brokerage Firm A brokerage account from the December 20, 2011, sale of Star Scientific stock to purchase 6,672 shares of Star Scientific stock.

The McDonnells allege that they did nothing illegal with former Governor Bob McDonnell telling reporters Tuesday night "the law is on our side."

McDonnell has continually maintained his innocence and in a press conference Tuesday said that he “never promised — and Mr. Williams and his company — never received any government benefit from any kind from me or my administration.”

He also stated that the feds have “decided to stretch the law to the breaking point in this case,” and that their case “rests entirely on a misguided legal theory.”

His remarks are here in their entirety: Text of Bob McDonnell’s remarks after indictment.

The McDonnells are scheduled to appear in Federal court in Richmond on Friday, Jan. 24.

If found guilty of their offenses, the former governor and wife would have to return this property:

The sum of not less than $140,805.46;
Black Rebecca Minkoff shoes;
Black Louis Vuitton shoes;
White Louis Vuitton shoes;
Cream Louis Vuitton purse;
Cream Louis Vuitton wallet;
Silver Rolex Watch engraved with "71s1 Governor of Virginia";
Yellow Peter Som dress;
Blue Armani jacket and two matching dresses;
Two Gold Oscar de la Renta dresses;
Black Louis Vuitton rain coat;
Gold Oscar de le Renta sweater;
One pair of Amelia Rose earrings;
One Gear sweatshirt;
Two pairs of Foot Joy golf shoes;
One button-down Ralph Lauren shirt;
One white Peter Millar golf shirt;
One baby blue striped Peter Millar golf shirt;
One royal blue Peter Millar golf shirt;
One aqua Fairway Greene Tech golf shirt;
One white striped Ralph Lauren golf shirt;
One Ping University of Virginia golf bag;
One Ping Kinloch golf bag;
One Sun Mountain Notre Dame golf bag;
Two sets of golf clubs;
One Heather Mackenzie water color and frame;
Two iPhones; and
30 boxes of Anatabloc®.