Federal Judge Refuses To Dismiss Charges Against Bob McDonnell
A Federal Judge in Richmond has denied a defense request to dismiss the corruption charges against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell:
A federal judge in Richmond today denied defense motions to dismiss the corruption charges against former Gov. Bob McDonnell and former first lady Maureen McDonnell.
U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer also denied the McDonnells’ motions for separate trials. The ruling means a joint trial will go forward July 28, as scheduled.
“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, ” the judge wrote.
The judge also denied the McDonnells’ request that he expunge from their indictment passages about Maureen McDonnell’s purchases and sales of 6,000 shares of Star Scientific stock.
The McDonnells argued that those “surplus” sections are prejudicial to their case. Prosecutors countered that those sections explain “the defendants’ alleged efforts to avoid public disclosure of their Star Scientific ownership in order to conceal their relationship with Jonnie Williams and Star Scientific. This is relevant evidence of consciousness of guilt.”
The judge agreed with prosecutors that those sections of the indictment are relevant to Maureen McDonnell’s intent.
“Attempts to conceal an interest in Star — especially a personal financial interest — may be probative of intent/animus to defraud and consciousness of guilt,” Spencer wrote. “Similary, because intent to defraud may be inferred from the totality of the circumstances, the existence of motivation to defraud may be probative of intent to defraud.”
There may be still be some chance that the McDonnell’s will plead guilty, but that may be tempered by the fact that many legal scholars, including a bipartisan group of former Virginia Attorneys General, have called for the charges against McDonnell to be dismissed. At this point, with his political career essentially dead and the probability that his future would be in ruined by either a guilty plea or a conviction since either would result in the loss of his license to practice law, McDonnell may just be willing to roll the dice with a jury trial.