A federal jury Thursday found former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of public corruption – sending a message that they believed the couple sold the office once occupied by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson to a free spending Richmond businessman for golf outings, lavish vacations and $120,000 in sweetheart loans.
After three days of deliberations, the seven men and five women who heard weeks of gripping testimony about the McDonnells’ alleged misdeeds acquitted the couple of several charges pending against them–but nevertheless found that they lent the prestige of the governor’s office to Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in a nefarious exchange for his largesse.
The verdict means that Robert McDonnell, who was already the first governor in Virginia history to be charged with a crime, now holds an even more unwanted distinction: the first ever to be convicted of one. He and his wife face decades in federal prison, though their actual sentence could fall well short of that. U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer set a sentencing hearing for Jan. 6, 2015.
The moment the first guilty verdict was read, Bob McDonnell closed his eyes tightly, shaking in his seat as he wept.
Maureen McDonnell seemed to cry, too, though with her back to the courtroom, her tears were less obvious. At the eighth guilty count, Bob McDonnell buried his face in his hands. By the end, he was slumped in his chair, still crying.