Judge denies motion to dismiss charges against Bob McDonnell, wife

Posted at 11:31 AM, May 20, 2014

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) - The federal corruption case against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen will move forward after Judge James Spencer denied a motion to dismiss. He also denied a motion to give the McDonnells separate trials.

Judge Spencer made the rulings in a brief filed in the U.S. District Court on Tuesday morning.

"Defendants take issue with the Indictment primarily on the ground that it fails to allege Robert McDonnell performed or promised to perform any 'official act' within the meaning of the federal bribery statutes," Judge Spencer wrote in his order not to dismiss charges. "Whether Defendants’ conduct in fact constituted “the corruption of official positions through misuse of
influence in governmental decision-making” is a question for the jury based on the evidence adduced at trial."

The couple is listed as co-defendants on the indictment that alleges they accepted more than $150,000 from local businessman Johnnie Williams in exchange for promotion of his company's products. Defense attorneys for the McDonnells said Maureen McDonnell had information that could acquit her husband of wrong doing, but she could not give that testimony unless the trials were severed because her testimony would harm her own defense in a joint trial.

However Judge Spencer did not agree.

"Defendants have failed to meet their burden to show that a joint trial will result in a miscarriage of justice or prevent Robert McDonnell from receiving a fair trial," Judge Spencer wrote. "Defendants have limited their showing of Maureen McDonnell’s potential testimony largely to vague and conclusory statements that 'merely contradict[] part of the Government’s proof.'”

"This is a win for the prosecution," CBS 6 legal analyst Todd stone said.

Stone said it was a "long shot " for complete dismissal, but now that separate trials were denied as well it could race questions whether Maureen McDonnell will testify it all.

McDonnell lawyers had previously argued that Maureen McDonnell's testimony could refute Bob McDonnell's involvement.

"Her lawyers will now have to make a decision regarding what is best for her," Stone said.

Apart from dismissing those two key requests, Judge Spencer denied a request to redact parts of the indictment as well as denying a request for grand jury communications with prosecutors.

New subpoenas were also issued Tuesday. The list of people expected to testify now include current Secretary of a Health Bill Hazel, Former McDonnell Chief of Staff Martin Kent, Former McDonnell Communications Director Tucker Martin, Former Secretary of the Commonwealth Janet Kelly, and Former First Lady Chief of Staff Mary Shea Sutherland.