Former Va. Gov. McDonnell, Wife Released on Own Recognizance

By Julie Carey
|  Friday, Jan 24, 2014  |  Updated 4:52 PM PDT
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Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey is in court as former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen plead

Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey

Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey is in court as former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen plead "not guilty" to federal corruption charges.

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Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, entered not guilty pleas Friday during their first court appearance on federal corruption charges.

"It's not guilty, your Honor," the former Republican governor said in court before the judge set a July 28 trial date for both.

The couple walked hand-in-hand to their arraignment after being released on their own recognizance during an earlier bond hearing. Both courtrooms were packed with friends and supporters of the McDonnells.

"God has blessed me with great friends and family," Bob McDonnell said afterward.

The McDonnells were also ordered not to leave the country. The former governor's lawyer said the couple already surrendered their passports.

McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday after a lengthy federal investigation of his relationship with a former CEO of a dietary supplement maker.

Both judges made stern pronouncements about the media attention the case has been getting.

"This case is going to be tried in the courtroom; it's not going to be tried in the media," U.S. Magistrate Judge David Novak said. "The gamesmanship with the media ends now."

Novak sternly lectured lawyers from both sides not to discuss the case with the media. He warned that such conduct violates a local court rule and could result in contempt of court charges.

The former Republican governor and his wife were indicted on 14 counts Tuesday after a lengthy federal investigation of his relationship with a former CEO of a dietary supplement maker.

Federal prosecutors allege the McDonnells accepted more than $165,000 worth of loans and gifts from Jonnie Williams, the former head of Star Scientific Inc. Prosecutors say that in return, the McDonnells improperly helped Williams promote his company's products.

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McDonnell is also charged with an additional count of making a false statement to a financial institution, and Maureen McDonnell is charged with one count of obstruction of an official proceeding.

The indictment traces years of an alleged relationship between the McDonnells and Williams, whose company's dietary supplements allegedly helped people stop smoking and reduce inflammation.

Before McDonnell was even elected, the indictment claims, he used a jet owned by Williams. By the time McDonnell was about to take office, his wife allegedly reached out to Williams for help finding a designer dress for her husband's inauguration.

The case has clearly taken toll on the couple. In response to routine questions from the judge, Maureen McDonnell said she's taking medication for concentration issues and anxiety.

Bob McDonnell was once a rising star in the Republican Party. He has denied doing anything illegal.

McDonnell left office earlier this month after four years in the governor's office. Virginia law limits governors to a single term.

The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

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