Maureen McDonnell's Former Chief Of Staff Draws Back The Curtain At Corruption Trial | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Maureen McDonnell's Former Chief Of Staff Draws Back The Curtain At Corruption Trial

Play associated audio
This May 5, 2011 photo provided by the office of the Governor of Virginia shows Jonnie Williams, right, and Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell, left, during a reception for the NASCAR race at the Executive Mansion in Richmond, Va. Former executive assistant for Mrs. McDonnell, Mary Shea Sutherland, center, listens to the conversation.
(AP Photo/Office of the Governor of Virginia, Michaele White)
This May 5, 2011 photo provided by the office of the Governor of Virginia shows Jonnie Williams, right, and Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell, left, during a reception for the NASCAR race at the Executive Mansion in Richmond, Va. Former executive assistant for Mrs. McDonnell, Mary Shea Sutherland, center, listens to the conversation.

The woman who served as chief of staff to Virginia's former first lady offered insight into life at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond.

Mary-Shea Sutherland described working for Maureen McDonnell as a hellish experience. On the stand in the corruption trial of former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, she described frequent outbursts from the first lady. By contrast, she described the governor as a kind man who said his wife was having a hard time adjusting to her new role.

White-collar criminal defense attorney Michael Levy says that's a distinction that could be important later.

"This witness in particular seems to be distinguishing between the two different defendants, and I think that may be significant as the jury starts to analyze the charges against each individual defendant separately," Levy says.

Sutherland also dealt a blow to "the crush defense", a theory outlined by defense attorneys that first lady Maureen McDonnell was infatuated with Jonnie Williams. That's the wealthy Virginia businessman who was seeking power and influence from the governor's office to promote his company's products, especially a product called Anatabloc, which is made from tobacco.

She told jurors that the McDonnell marriage seemed solid to her, adding that Maureen McDonnell read her a poem that the governor wrote for her in 2011. She also testified that the McDonnells agreed to use the governor's mansion to help Star Scientific launch Anatabloc in August 2011.

Levy says that puts more pressure on Maureen McDonnell to take the stand.

"The only witness who can really make that defense for Ms. McDonnell is likely to be Ms. McDonnell herself," he says.

Prosecutors are expected to continue outlining their case today and most of next week.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, June 3, 2015

A play and an exhibit explore luxury, power and how women present themselves and are perceived.

NPR

Chimps Are No Chumps: Give Them An Oven, They'll Learn To Cook

That's what researchers found when they gave chimps a device that appeared to work like an oven. The findings add to the argument that our ancestors began cooking soon after learning to control fire.
NPR

Obama Says China Could Join Already Huge Asia Trade Deal

If you thought the Trans-Pacific Partnership was big already — and it is — it could get even bigger, President Obama told Kai Ryssdal of "Marketplace" from American Public Media.
NPR

Experts Debate: Will Computers Edge People Out Of Entire Careers?

Machines have been taking jobs forever. Computers and software are doing things people were paid to do. They are booking airplane flights. Filing our taxes. And they are getting better all the time.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.