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McDonnell Trial To Proceed, Couple To Be Tried Together

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The corruption case against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, is set to begin this summer.
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
The corruption case against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, is set to begin this summer.

The corruption case against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, is set to go to trial this summer after U.S. District Judge James Spencer tossed out a motion to dismiss most of the charges against the couple. The judge also ruled that the couple will face charges together.

They say Maureen McDonnell was willing to give testimony exonerating her husband in separate trials, but not in a joint trial.

"They were trying to create much greater obstacles for the government to prosecute them," says Frank Shafroth, professor at George Mason University. "It would have been hard to manage two separate trials rather than one, so I think they failed in that effort to make it harder for the government to proceed."

The McDonnells' lawyers also argued that the bulk of the case should be dismissed because prosecutors are trying to criminalize routine political courtesies. The judge disagreed with that motion as well, letting the corruption case move forward.

The couple is charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific. In exchange, prosecutors say, they would helped promote his products.

"They're almost as they were within the Catholic Church, perceived as inseparable and the sins of each will be added together rather than attempting to discriminate between them," Shafroth says.

A five-week jury trial is expected to begin in late July. The McDonnells have pleaded not guilty.

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