RICHMOND, Va. — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell received $150,000 in loans to help bail out struggling vacation rental properties before he borrowed money from a wealthy businessman, McDonnell’s former brother-in-law testified Monday.
The prosecution called Michael Uncapher to the stand to help paint the former governor and his wife, Maureen, as a financially desperate couple. Prosecutors say money troubles from the Virginia Beach properties owned by McDonnell and his sister was one of the motivating factors in the gifts-for-favors scandal that resulted in a 14-count indictment against the McDonnells.
Uncapher testified that MoBo Realty borrowed $100,000 from McDonnell’s father, John McDonnell, in 2007 and $50,000 from Dr. Paul Davis, a radiologist, in 2009. Two loans totaling $70,000 from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams followed in 2012, Uncapher and other witnesses have testified.
In all, the McDonnells are accused of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and secret loans from Williams in exchange for promoting his company’s products, primarily the nutritional supplement Anatabloc.
Uncapher, who said his divorce from McDonnell’s sister became final earlier this year, said family members figured when the real estate partnership was established in 2005 that it would lose $50,000 to $60,000 a year because the property was intended primarily for the family’s enjoyment.
On cross-examination, Uncapher acknowledged that his ex-wife is a successful business executive who earned more than $500,000 in 2012. The defense made that point to counter the prosecution’s financial desperation claim. Uncapher also said his own financial mismanagement contributed to the money problems.
Earlier, a state official testified that McDonnell ended a meeting in his office by touting Anatabloc’s effectiveness.
Sara Wilson, director of the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management, said that when a March 2012 meeting to discuss the state employee health plan was breaking up, McDonnell pulled a bottle of Anatabloc from his pocket and mentioned that it was helping him and his wife.
Wilson said she had met about three weeks earlier with Star Scientific executive David Dean and rejected his request that she add Anatabloc to the list of items covered by the state plan.
Wilson described a February meeting with Dean as a salesman’s “cold call” and said that, to her knowledge, McDonnell had nothing to do with it. She said that after Dean told her he wanted the dietary supplement added to the health plan, she told him: “This is going to be a short meeting.”
However, she said she was interested in Dean’s pitch and asked to see scientific studies. He brought marketing material to a second meeting, but Wilson said that was not what she wanted to see. She offered to make arrangements for a state employee discount on Anatabloc but never heard back.
The jury also heard from McDonnell’s former chief of staff, Martin Kent, who testified that he had no idea at the time that his boss and Maureen McDonnell had received gifts and loans from Williams. Several other former administration officials have testified that they, too, were in the dark about the extent of the cozy relationship until the scandal began making headlines in March 2013.
Kent also testified that Williams and his company received no state funds, board appointments or special legislation — a point that defense attorneys have emphasized in arguing that McDonnell extended routine political courtesies and nothing more.
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