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Today's Business Headlines

Virginia ex-governor's corruption trial resumes
Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 at 2:21pm

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - The corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell resumed on Tuesday after revelations that his wife tried to pitch a dietary supplement at the heart of the trial to the wife of presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, face 14 counts of corruption and bribery for allegedly accepting $165,000 in gifts and loans from businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for supporting his former company, a dietary supplement maker now known as Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals.

McDonnell's chief political adviser when he was governor, Phil Cox, said in testimony on Monday that Maureen McDonnell tried to talk up Williams’ anti-inflammatory product to Ann Romney, the wife of the 2012 Republican nominee, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

Cox said he thought it was highly improper for the governor’s wife to be promoting the product, Anatabloc, and it cast the Virginia governor, also a Republican, in a bad light.

The incident occurred in 2012 when Romney was campaigning for president in South Carolina. Williams also was on the trip.

Williams, the prosecutors' star witness, completed four days of testimony on Monday by detailing financial help he said he had given the McDonnells. He said he looked at his relationship with the couple not as friendship but as business.

Williams, who testified in U.S. District Court under immunity from prosecution, said he gave $50,000 to the couple after Maureen McDonnell told him their credit cards were tapped out and resort rental properties were underwater.

Lawyers for McDonnell, who was once seen as a possible White House contender, and his wife have contended that accepting the gifts was unseemly but not illegal.

Defense attorneys have tried to distance the former governor from Williams, saying the interaction was primarily between him and Maureen McDonnell.

If convicted, the McDonnells could each face more than 20 years in prison and a large fine. McDonnell's four-year term as governor ended in January.

(Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Bill Trott)

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