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Defense: Ex-governor's wife took credit for loans

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm •  Published: August 19, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Gov. Bob McDonnell's wife sent text messages claiming exclusive credit for securing loans from a Virginia businessman whose largesse toward the couple is at the heart of their public corruption trial, according to evidence presented Tuesday.

In one text presented by the former governor's defense team, Maureen McDonnell expresses anger that her husband appears to be getting credit for arranging the deal, which the McDonnells sought to keep their struggling side business of renting vacation homes in Virginia Beach afloat.

The McDonnells are charged in federal court with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's tobacco-based dietary supplement.

Bob McDonnell's lawyers began making their defense this week and have attempted to show that his wife was the one enjoying a cozy relationship with Williams.

Tuesday's testimony from Bob McDonnell's sister, also named Maureen, fed into that theory.

Maureen C. McDonnell testified that she received a series of urgent, vaguely written texts from her brother's wife in March 2012 with instructions about how to handle a loan check that had been mailed.

Bob McDonnell and his sister had formed a real estate venture in 2005, buying two vacation homes in Virginia Beach. The venture lost thousands of dollars when the real-estate market tanked, and the McDonnells were looking for investors to keep the business going.

In one text, the then-first lady sends a text to Maureen C. McDonnell saying, "I talked him into it," meaning that Williams had agreed to provide a $50,000 loan.

Williams eventually lent $70,000 to the real estate venture.

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