fb-pixel Skip to main content

RICHMOND — Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges that they traded their influence for tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and loans, and both will be allowed to remain free until their trial.

‘‘It’s not guilty, your honor,’’ McDonnell said when asked his plea.

US District Court Judge James R. Spencer set a July 28 start for a jury trial.

The McDonnells were released on their own recognizance but were ordered by US Magistrate Judge David Novak not to leave the country. The former governor’s lawyer, John Brownlee, told Novak the defendants already had surrendered their passports.

Advertisement



The McDonnells were indicted on 14 counts Tuesday after a lengthy federal investigation of his relationship with a former chief executive of a dietary supplement maker.

Both judges issued strong warnings against leaking sensitive information to reporters. Much of the details of the government’s case had long been made public through months of news stories based on anonymous sources. ‘‘The gamesmanship with the media ends now,” Novak said.

Prosecutors allege the McDonnells accepted more than $165,000 worth of loans and gifts from Jonnie Williams, the former head of Star Scientific Inc. Prosecutors say that in return, the McDonnells improperly helped Williams promote his company’s products.

The investigation crippled the chances of attaining higher office for McDonnell, once a rising star in the Republican Party who had even been considered a possible running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012. He has apologized for what he describes as bad judgment and said he repaid about $120,000 in gifts and loans. But he denies breaking any laws.

Associated Press