The McDonnells are accused of receiving numerous high-value gifts from businessman Jonnie Williams Sr. in exchange for McDonnell using his influence to benefit Williams’ Richmond-area business, Star Scientific.
The 43-page indictment lists more than $140,000 worth of luxury goods, golf equipment, clothing and dietary supplements subject to federal seizure should the McDonnells be convicted.
McDonnell’s four-year term in office ended Jan. 11.
From a Department of Justice press release:
According to the indictment, from April 2011 through March 2013, the McDonnells participated in a scheme to use the former governor’s official position to enrich themselves and their family members by soliciting and obtaining payments, loans, gifts and other things of value from Star Scientific, a Virginia-based corporation, and “JW,” then Star Scientific’s chief executive officer. The McDonnells obtained the things of value in exchange for the former governor performing official actions on an as-needed basis to legitimize, promote and obtain research studies for Star’s products, including the dietary supplement Anatabloc®.
As alleged in the indictment, the McDonnells obtained from JW more than $135,000 in direct payments as gifts and loans, thousands of dollars in golf outings, and numerous other things of value. As part of the alleged scheme, the official actions that Robert McDonnell performed included arranging meetings for JW with Virginia government officials, hosting and attending events at the Governor’s Mansion designed to encourage Virginia university researchers to initiate studies of Star’s products and to promote Star’s products to doctors for referral to their patients, contacting other Virginia government officials as part of an effort to encourage Virginia state research universities to initiate studies of Star’s products, and promoting Star’s products and facilitating its relationships with Virginia government officials.
The indictment further alleges that the McDonnells attempted to conceal the things of value received from JW and Star to hide the nature and scope of their dealings with JW from the citizens of Virginia by, for example, routing things of value through family members and corporate entities controlled by the former governor to avoid annual disclosure requirements. Moreover, the indictment alleges that on Oct. 3, 2012, Robert McDonnell sent loan paperwork to a lender that did not disclose the loans from JW, and on Feb. 1, 2013, the McDonnells signed loan paperwork submitted to another lender that did not disclose the loans. Similarly, the indictment alleges that on Feb. 15, 2013, Maureen McDonnell was questioned by law enforcement about the loans and made false and misleading statements regarding the defendants’ relationship with JW. Three days later, on Feb. 18, 2013, Robert McDonnell is alleged to have sent loan paperwork to one of the previously mentioned lenders disclosing the loans from JW. Additionally, after her interview with law enforcement, Maureen McDonnell allegedly wrote a handwritten note to JW in which she falsely attempted to make it appear that she and JW had previously discussed and agreed that she would return certain designer luxury goods rather than keep them permanently, all as part of an effort to obstruct, influence and impede the investigation.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If convicted, the McDonnells could each face a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss on the conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud count, the honest-services wire fraud counts, the conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right count, and the obtaining property under color of official right counts; a maximum statutory sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $1,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss on the false statement counts; and a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss on the obstruction of an official proceeding count.
The rest of the press release, after the jump.
An Arlington County Grand Jury indicted James Sylvester Caroline on capital murder and weapons charges for the murder of Tommy Kin Mo Wong.
Caroline is accused of killing Wong during a robbery of the Capital Jewelers store at 3219 Columbia Pike on the afternoon of July 27. Caroline was arrested just days after the murder during a traffic stop on the Arlington/Alexandria border.
Caroline is set to appear in court on Thursday, December 20, to set a trial date.
Prosecutors say Ryan Ackroyd, Jake Davis, Darren Martyn and Hector Xavier Monsegur — alleged members of the “hacktivist” group LulzSec — hacked into PBS servers last year in retaliation for what they perceived to be unfavorable coverage of Wikileaks by the PBS news program “Frontline.” At the time, news outlets reported that LulzSec defaced PBS.org and posted a fake story on the PBS NewsHour website suggesting that the late rapper Tupac Shakur was actually alive and well in New Zealand.
PBS is based in Crystal City and the PBS NewsHour is produced in Shirlington, though prosecutors say the organization’s computer servers were actually located in Alexandria.
Ackroyd and Davis, of the United Kingdom, and Martyn, of Ireland, are each charged with two counts of computer hacking conspiracy. In addition to the PBS hack, they’re also accused of hacking into the systems of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Rockville-based Bethesda Softworks, and other companies.
Monsegur, of New York City, has already pleaded guilty to a host of charges connected with those hacking incidents. See the full list of charges from a United States Attorney’s Office press release.
Less than two months after two of his employees pleaded guilty to charges stemming from last year’s change-of-government petition drive in Arlington, political strategist Shawn Wilmoth has been indicted on two felony counts of election fraud.
Wilmoth was the president of Signature Masters, the firm that was contracted to collect signatures for last year’s unsuccessful attempt to change Arlington’s form of government. The petition drive was sponsored largely by Arlington’s police and fire unions.
Two of Wilmoth’s signature collectors, Cheryl Simmons and William Cockerham, pleaded guilty to election fraud charges in February. State law specifies that petition signatures must be witnessed by someone who is at least eligible to register to vote. As convicted felons, neither Simmons nor Cockerham were eligible.
In a statement of fact entered as part of Simmons’ guilty plea, prosecutors said that Simmons told Wilmoth that she had been convicted of a felony before she was hired. Nonetheless, prosecutors say Wilmoth hired Simmons to collect signatures at a fee of $3 per signature. Later, when news reports revealed that Simmons was a felon, Wilmoth told the Washington Post that Simmons had passed a background check.
“It was an issue with the background-check company we are dealing with,” he told the paper.
Prosecutors said most of the 55 petitions pages that Simmons signed as a witness were handed to her by Wilmoth at a local Starbucks. Only a few pages, prosecutors said, contained signatures she had actually collected.
An Arlington grand jury handed down an indictment for Wilmoth on March 28. A warrant was then issued for his arrest. He was arrested Friday afternoon in Warren, Mich., according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andy Parker. Lt. Eric Schulz of the Warren Police Department confirmed Wilmoth’s arrest and said he was likely being held at the nearby Macomb County Jail.
William Cockerham, accused of making a false statement on a required form, appeared in Arlington County Circuit Court today, was appointed an attorney, and was given a trial date of March 7, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew Parker.
Convicted felon and petition drive contractor Cheryl Simmons, who was indicted on the charge of voter fraud on Monday, did not appear in court today, Parker said. She’s expected to attend a hearing on Jan. 3, at which time a trial date will be set.
Simmons and Cockerham both face between one and ten years in prison and up to a $2,500 fine if convicted.
Parker could not say whether additional charges are likely against other Committee for a Better Arlington (CBA) contractors. A group that opposed the petition effort, the Coalition for Arlington Good Government, raised questions over the summer about the conduct of four petition workers, including Simmons and Cockerham.
The Coalition issued the following statement this afternoon.
This summer the Coalition for Arlington Good Government (CAGG) published a report detailing serious irregularities in the collection of signatures for the change of government petition. The report can be found at www.arlingtoncoalition.org.
Our concern, then and now, remains the integrity of Arlington elections, and protecting our community from unethical and illegal efforts that may have been organized by paid out-of-state political operatives to fabricate a local “grass roots” movement. Yesterday’s indictments appear to confirm that the Change of Government effort violated the trust of Arlington voters. We welcome the continued scrutiny by the Commonwealth Attorney’s office of the way in which this petition drive was conducted.
Petition Workers Indicted for Voter Fraud — Two individuals who worked on the unsuccessful effort to change Arlington’s form of government have been indicted for election fraud. William Cockerham and Cheryl Simmons are expected to have their trial dates set this morning. Earlier this year we exposed Simmons as a paroled felon, ineligible to collect the 2,214 petition signatures she claimed to have collected. More from the Washington Post.
ART Bus Lives Up to Its Name — Arlington’s transit agency has deemed its “Art on the ART Bus” experiment a success. The program placed artwork on an ART bus in connection with a new exhibit at the Arlington Arts Center. The arty bus launched on Dec. 11 and will continue rotating throughout the ART system for the next couple of months. More from the Arlington Transit Blog.
Court Appearance for Facebook Bomb Threats Suspect — The Arlington man who threatened via Facebook to place bombs in Georgetown and on Metro trains has been denied bail. Awais Younis, who lives in the Arlington View neighborhood, appeared in U.S. District Court yesterday. A judge ordered the 25-year-old held without bond, saying his arrest provides additional incentive for Younis to carry out his threats. More from WTOP.
Flickr pool photo by Plaszloc