Top witness takes stand in trial of ex-Virginia governor

RICHMOND — Curing his wife’s thyroid disease. Connections in the high-end fashion world. Learjet flights for politicians.

Those were topics of testimony Wednesday from Jonnie Williams, the government’s key witness who took center stage under the cloak of immunity in the corruption trial for former governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. Prosecutors say the McDonnells took more than $165,000 in secret gifts, cash, and loans in exchange for promoting Star Scientific Inc., a company Williams headed until he stepped down under the cloud of a securities investigation and shareholder lawsuits.

Williams talked about his business acumen, curing his wife’s pre-cancerous disease by dosing her with the main ingredient in his company’s signature product, Anatabloc, and knowing people close to famed designer Oscar de la Renta. He said Maureen McDonnell asked him for help getting a gown for her husband’s 2010 inauguration but said she would take a ‘‘rain check’’ after an aide to her husband nixed the idea.


In April 2011, Williams said Maureen told him he could buy her a dress. He took her on a Manhattan luxury clothes shopping spree at Bergdorf Goodman, Louis Vuitton, and Oscar de la Renta.

In the end, the bills for Maureen’s high-end dresses and accessories were $20,000,