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Hearing In Richmond Today On McDonnell Chef Case

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A hearing in Richmond Circuit Court today could mean more trouble for Gov. Bob McDonnell, whose relationship with a Richmond-area businessman is the subject of an FBI probe.

Two years ago, Virginia's first lady played host to a TV crew from Lifetime Cable's morning show, introducing Todd Schneider, a 50-year-old chef who had trained with Martha Stewart, cooked for Bill Clinton and Steven Spielberg.

At the time, Schneider said he and the McDonnells were like family, but the family has been feuding since Schneider left a year ago, charged with four counts of embezzling more than $200 from the kitchen of the governor's mansion. 

This year there were media reports that Schneider's catering firm, hired to provide food and flowers for the 2011 wedding of McDonnell's daughter,  was paid $15,000 by a big political donor. The tab was picked up by Johnnie Williams, the CEO of Star Scientific, a company promoted by the McDonnells. 

The governor says it's his job to promote Virginia business, and the money was for his daughter: "Mr. Williams gave my daughter a wedding present."

The chef's lawyer says the governor had reason to go after his client — to damage his credibility as a possible witness in any investigation of the catering matter. He's asking that charges be thrown out.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli also wants out. He'll ask the judge to excuse him from prosecuting Schneider, because he, too, considers Williams a friend, owns stock in Star Scientific, has received gifts and has vacationed at Williams Smith Mountain Lake home.

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