Jury Picked in Corruption Trial of Va. Ex-Gov. McDonnell, Wife

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    A jury has been selected in the corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. News4's Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports. (Published Monday, Jul 28, 2014)

    A jury has been selected in the corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.

    The judge instructed 12 jurors and four alternates to return to court at 10 a.m. Tuesday, prompting discussion between the judge and one juror, who was then dismissed and replaced by one of the alternates.

    The McDonnells are charged with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplement maker Star Scientific Inc. In return, prosecutors say, the couple improperly helped Williams promote his company's products.

    The scandal marred Bob McDonnell's last months in office. He had been considered a possible running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012 before the federal investigation ruined his political future.

    Jury Selection Begins Monday in McDonnell's Trial

    [DC] Jury Selection Begins Monday in McDonnell's Trial
    Jury selection begins Monday in the corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. (Published Monday, Jul 28, 2014)

    Bob and Maureen McDonnell arrived separately at the federal courthouse Monday morning -- the former governor with his legal team; his wife a few minutes earlier with two of their daughters -- and embraced in the hallway before greeting and hugging supporters.

    Court began with both legal teams introducing themselves and the defendants to the jurors. The McDonnells both turned to face the jurors as they were introduced.

    All potential jurors had filled out questionnaires in advance of the trial. The judge started juror questioning by asking if they know any of the lawyers, the McDonnells or the 130 potential defense and prosecution witnesses.

    One juror was called up the bench after raising his hand when the judge asked, "Do you know Robert F. McDonnell personally?"

    The juror said he's attended political events with the former governor and recently had snapped a photo of McDonnell with one of the juror's friends, then exchanged pleasantries with McDonnell.

    The judge asked, "Is there anything that would prevent you from being impartial to both sides?"

    The juror replied, "No," and returned to his seat in the courtroom.

    Bob McDonnell read a prayer book as he waited for jury selection.

    Federal prosecutors filed a list of 61 potential witnesses Monday morning, including Maureen McDonnell and the couple's three children, Sean, Rachel and Bobby.

    The witness list and the government's list of exhibits were filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Richmond shortly before jury selection began.

    The trial is beginning more than six months after the McDonnells were indicted on federal corruption charges following a lengthy investigation.

    According to the 14-count indictment filed against the couple, those gifts included shopping sprees for designer clothes and accessories, a Rolex watch, $15,000 in catering expenses for a daughter's wedding, golf outings and a lake-house vacation stay that included use of Williams' Ferrari.

    Prosecutors say the McDonnells also opened up the Executive Mansion for a launch party for a Star Scientific product and arranging a meeting between Williams and a state health official.

    Before the indictment, Bob McDonnell apologized for what he described as bad judgment and said he had repaid about $120,000 in gifts and loans, but denied breaking any laws. He and his lawyers have argued that prosecutors are trying to criminalize routine and long-accepted political courtesies, like hosting receptions and arranging meetings, that fall short of more tangible rewards historically associated with bribery.

    Prosecutors have countered that the McDonnells' willingness to help Williams on "an as-needed basis" and Williams' expectation of something in return, whether he received it or not, is enough to support a conviction.

    The indictment also outlined the couple's alleged financial struggles during Bob McDonnell's time in office, and includes an email from Maureen McDonnell saying the family was "broke" and had an "unconscionable amount" of credit card debt.

    However, forensic accountant J. Allen Kosowsky is expected to testify on the McDonnells' behalf that the couple's financial situation was sound when they accepted gifts and loans from Williams.

    Williams -- who stepped down as CEO of Star Scientific in late 2013 -- is expected to testify under immunity at the couple's trial.

    In addition, Bob McDonnell had requested to call as many as 10 character witnesses to testify on his behalf. While Judge James R. Spencer denied the prosecution's request to limit the number of character witnesses to three each, he also said he likely wouldn't allow more than five to testify at trial.

    The trial is expected to take five to six weeks.

    A request by the McDonnells to have separate trials was denied. A defense fund has collected more than $250,000 for them.

    Stay with NBCWashington.com and News4 as Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports from Richmond.