Andrew Wise Comments on Indictment of Former VA Gov. McDonnell on Voice of America TV

"Legal Window:  Former Virginia Governor Awaiting Trial on Corruption Allegations"
Voice of America (VOA) TV
02.21.14

Andrew Wise commented on the indictment of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, who allegedly accepted more than $165,000 in gifts from Jonnie Williams, former CEO of Star Scientific Inc. Arguments in the case depend on the prosecution's ability to establish that there was an agreement between all parties constituting fraud. Regarding what may constitute sufficient proof of corruption, Wise said, "If the defendants could prove that they did not accept Williams' gifts as Virginia's Governor and First Lady, did not promise Williams any government benefits in return, and that Williams was their personal friend and did not expect to receive any government benefits from them, they can then use that as their defense."

He also highlighted that under U.S. law's double-jeopardy prohibition, the McDonnells could be prosecuted at the same time by the federal government and the State of Virginia, however he speculated that Virginia's prosecutors may have elected not to pursue bringing state charges after reaching a consensus with federal prosecutors. "Charges under Virginia's disclosure laws are relatively minor, with lighter potential penalties. In contrast, the federal charges are more serious, and if found guilty, the McDonnells could face up to 30 years in prison and over $1 million in fines," Wise said. "State prosecutors may have wanted to avoid, in the course of prosecuting the relatively less serious state charges, allowing the defendants the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, preview evidence, and force witnesses to make statements under oath. Hence, state prosecutors may have decided to allow the federal prosecution to proceed first."

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