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Former Va. gov, wife indicted for corruption

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Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell makes a statement as his wife, Maureen, listens during a news conference in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday on corruption charges after a monthslong federal investigation into gifts the Republican received from a political donor. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell makes a statement as his wife, Maureen, listens during a news conference in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday on corruption charges after a monthslong federal investigation into gifts the Republican received from a political donor. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell makes a statement as his wife, Maureen, listens during a news conference in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday on corruption charges after a monthslong federal investigation into gifts the Republican received from a political donor. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell makes a statement as his wife, Maureen, listens during a news conference in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday on corruption charges after a monthslong federal investigation into gifts the Republican received from a political donor. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell makes a statement as his daughter, Cailin and her husband, Chris Young, listen during a news conference in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday on corruption charges after a monthslong federal investigation into gifts the Republican received from a political donor. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell pauses while making a statement as his wife, Maureen, right, listens during a news conference in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday on corruption charges after a monthslong federal investigation into gifts the Republican received from a political donor. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Bob McDonnell had just been elected governor of Virginia when a wealthy businessman who had donated the use of his private jet during the Republican’s campaign requested a meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York.

The governor-elect obliged and brought along his wife, Maureen, who during the meeting told Jonnie Williams she needed a dress for the inauguration the following month, according to a federal indictment of the McDonnells.

Williams agreed to buy her an Oscar de la Renta gown, but a Bob McDonnell aide said it would be inappropriate and nixed the idea, according to the indictment returned by a grand jury Tuesday.

Peeved, the former Washington Redskins cheerleader and future first lady fired off an email to the staffer.

“I need to talk to you about Inaugural clothing budget,” the email said. “I need answers and Bob is screaming about the thousands I’m charging up in credit card debt. We are broke and have an unconscionable amount in credit card debt already and this Inaugural is killing us!! I need answers and I need help, and I need to get this done.”

She ultimately told Williams, then the CEO of dietary supplement maker Star Scientific Inc., she could not accept the dress but would take a “rain check.”

That scenario played out in December 2009, according to the indictment, and was allegedly the start of a four-year pattern of Virginia’s first couple squeezing gifts and loans out of a benefactor who expected them to promote his company’s products in return.

The indictment suggests the McDonnells cashed in that first rain check many times over: shopping sprees for designer clothes for Maureen McDonnell, a vacation stay at Williams’ multimillion-dollar Smith Mountain Lake retreat, $70,000 in loans for a family real estate venture, $15,000 in catering expenses for a daughter’s wedding, golf outings for the governor and family members.

The day after the Smith Mountain Lake vacation, which allegedly included use of Williams’ Ferrari, Williams was in a meeting with the McDonnells and a senior state health official, pitching Star Scientific products and even suggesting that government employees could serve as a control group for research studies, according to the indictment.

Also that day, the indictment said, Maureen McDonnell persuaded Williams to buy a $6,500 Rolex watch that she presented to her husband as a gift with “71st Governor of Virginia” engraved on the back.

The government alleges there were other instances of the McDonnells using their influence to help Williams’ company, including hosting an Executive Mansion reception for Star Scientific to launch it signature product with university researchers in attendance.

Twelve of the 14 counts in Tuesday’s indictment are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, two by up to 30 years. Possible fines range from $250,000 to $1 million.

McDonnell has apologized and said he returned more than $120,000 in gifts and loans to Williams, but has insisted he did nothing illegal. He said Tuesday night that federal prosecutors stretched the law to make a case against him and his wife.

“I will use every available resource and advocate that I have for as long as it takes to fight and prevail against these false allegations and the unjust overreach of the federal government,” McDonnell said at a news conference, where he read from a statement and took no questions.

“I repeat again emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal friendship and his generosity,” said McDonnell. He described the federal investigation as “indescribably agonizing” and said that “the federal government’s case rests entirely on a misguided legal theory.”

Maureen McDonnell joined her husband at the news conference but did not speak. Her attorney, William Burck, said in a statement that the Department of Justice “has overreached to bring these charges.”

Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman offered a different view.

“Today’s charges represent the Justice Department’s continued commitment to rooting out public corruption at all levels of government,” she said in a news release. “Ensuring that

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