Star Witness Testifies Relationship with McDonnells Was All Business

August 4, 2014

Bob McDonnell's defense attorney concluded his cross-examination of former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams by asking what the company received from the state with McDonnell's help.

"No state contracts or state grants," Henry Asbill asked Williams Monday morning, his fourth day of testifying.

"No," Williams responded. He testified Star Scientific received no money from the state and he did not receive any board appointments.

Williams maintains his relationship with the McDonnell family was all business, even when Asbill referenced a text message Williams sent McDonnell after the former governor sent a message to his father, wishing him a happy birthday.

"You are a wonderful friend I am proud to know," Williams messaged to McDonnell. "Anything I can do for your family I will."

On the witness stand, Williams says McDonnell's gesture to his father on his birthday, cost him "hundreds of thousands of dollars".

Jurors also heard about Williams legal troubles. Two federal civil lawsuits filed in Virginia against Williams and Star Scientific by shareholders alleging securities fraud are on hold, after the government intervened when Williams agreed to cooperate in the McDonnell case.

Williams called the legal issues "a nuisance". He testified the first rule of business is to stay in business.

"Would you say the second rule of business is to stay out of jail?" Asbill asked.

"I don't think any businessman wants to go to jail," Williams replied. Williams has signed an immunity agreement with the government in exchange for his cooperation.

Bob and Maureen McDonnell are charged with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Williams in exchange for promoting his nutritional supplements company's products.


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