Justice Dept. won't retry ex-Virginia governor McDonnell for corruption

By Doug G. Ware  |  Sept. 8, 2016 at 4:54 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Justice will not go after former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on corruption charges again, authorities said Thursday.

Justice officials made the move with a court filing on Thursday that remanded the case to a lower court, where it's expected that prosecutors will file for a motion to dismiss the case.

"Today is a great day in which my family and I rejoice," McDonnell said in a statement Thursday. "More than 3 1/2 years after learning of an investigation, the final day of vindication has arrived."

"After carefully considering the Supreme Court's recent decision and the principles of federal prosecution, we have made the decision not to pursue the case further," a Justice Department spokesman said.

McDonnell, Virginia's governor between 2010 and 2014, was charged in a corruption probe nearly three years ago over $135,000 worth of gifts he accepted from a political donor while in office. His wife was also charged in the case.

McDonnell and his wife were ultimately convicted but those convictions were vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. The former governor had been sentenced to two years in prison. Now it appears he won't serve any time behind bars.

"The decision not to prosecute vindicates those who believed all along that this case was an inappropriate extension of the bribery and gratuity statute," analyst Jacob Frenkel told The Washington Post Thursday. "Sometimes it takes the Supreme Court to rein in prosecutorial overreaching, and that is exactly what has occurred here."

The prosecutors' decision basically ends a four-year saga involving the former governor and ex-Liberty University professor.

Last week, it was reported that prosecutors in Virginia were pushing the Justice Department to retry the case. Thursday's move suggests that the department didn't see much hope in securing a conviction, based on the Supreme Court ruling.

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