Fourth Circuit Stays McDonnell Conviction

     (CN) – The Fourth Circuit on Friday Stayed the corruption conviction of former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell.
     Maureen and her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, were convicted of numerous criminal fraud charges in a six-week corruption trial ending in September 2014.
     Prosecutors said they accepted $165,000 in expensive gifts and trips from a friend Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for their help in getting state approval for a dietary supplement.
     McDonnell always insisted his role in setting up meetings and hosting events for Williams was part of the customary services doled out by every politician.
     The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Bob McDonnell’s conviction in June.
     “There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court at the time. “But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the Government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute. A more limited interpretation of the term ‘official act’ leaves ample room for prosecuting corruption, while comporting with the text of the statute and the precedent of this court.”
     Maureen McDonnell was convicted of eight of the 13 counts including one count of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right, two counts of honest-services wire fraud and four counts of obtaining property under color of official right.
     The court gave both sides until the end of the month to update the court on their negotiations for a resolution inthe case.
     The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia must now decide whether to file a brief arguing that a new trial is warranted.
     In a statement, U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said, “Although the United States acknowledges that the Supreme Court’s opinion in McDonnell v. United States is equally applicable to Maureen McDonnell’s convictions, Mrs. McDonnell’s convictions have not been vacated.
     “Her defense counsel filed a motion requesting that her case be held in abeyance until August 29, 2016. The United States did not oppose that request, and the United States Court of Appeals for Fourth Circuit granted the unopposed motion to hold the appeal in abeyance. At this time we are thoughtfully determining next steps in both cases,” Boente said.

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