Ex-Gov. McDonnell asks for dismissal of corruption charges

Defense attorneys for former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell filed a motion to acquit on claims he never gave official favors to a businessman.
By Gabrielle Levy  |  Sept. 19, 2014 at 7:40 AM
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RICHMOND, Va., Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Ex-Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell has asked a federal judge to acquit him of the corruption charges for which he was convicted earlier this month.

McDonnell, who was found guilty of 11 corruption counts, argued the verdict came on "insufficient evidence" and "numerous legal errors during the proceedings."

The arguments, which McDonnell hopes will lead to an acquittal or a new trial, are many of the same the former governor attempted to use during the trial, and likely stand the same slim chance of convincing U.S. District Judge James Spencer now as they did before.

McDonnell and his wife were found to have accepted gifts in exchange for political favors to businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. The Motions filed Thursday claimed the convictions were wrong since McDonnell never performed "official acts" on Williams' behalf.

"No reasonable juror could conclude from this record that the accused promised to exercise (or influence others to exercise) any governmental power to benefit Mr. Williams," defense attorneys wrote. "The most the government established, granting it the benefit of all reasonable inferences, is that Mr. McDonnell facilitated Mr. Williams' access to certain government decision-makers so that Mr. Williams could attempt to persuade them to his cause."

But prosecutors say McDonnell arranged meetings between a state health official and Williams, allowed him to host an event at the governor's mansion to promote his business and allowed him to invite guests to another event. He was also accused of using his authority to try to influence health officials on Williams' company's behalf.

Defense attorneys said none of those actions actually constituted an official action and thus, weren't a crime.

No one would claim that this was a crime, because introducing someone to a lobbyist does not constitute 'official action,'" the wrote. "The same is true here."

McDonnell's wife, Maureen, who was convicted on eight charges alongside her husband, also filed motions for acquittal, arguing she was not a public official and could not be convicted without him.

The McDonnell's can still appeal their case after sentencing, in January.

McDonnell motion

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