Former Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell was sentenced to one year in jail Friday for her role in a bribery and corruption scheme that tanked the career of her husband, former Governor Bob McDonnell. The McDonnells took more than $100,000 in "gifts" in exchange for promoting a ridiculous nutritional supplement made from tobacco. That's an embarrassing note to have to put in your biography.
Maureen McDonnell was found guilty on eight counts of corruption and sentenced to one year and one day in prison. The Associated Press reports that she's believed to be the first governor's spouse convicted on felony charges and facing prison time. She and the governor took roughly $165,000 from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of a company called Star Scientific Inc. Their main product is a tobacco-derived anti-inflammatory called Antabloc. During the trial, witnesses testified that McDonnell even tried to shill the product to Ann Romney, telling her it could cure her multiple sclerosis.
McDonnell's supporters said during the trial that she was "overwhelmed" by the responsibilities of being first lady. Several witnesses testified that she was "erratic" and prone to "angry outbursts," according to the New York Times, behavior which nearly prompted the staff of the governor's mansion to stage a walkout. At trial, defense attorneys for the McDonnells tried to show they couldn't have conspired to accept bribes because their marriage was strained and they were barely speaking. That didn't work: Bob McDonnell was also convicted and faces two years in prison. He's currently free pending an appeal.
As for Antabloc, it's no longer available for sale after the FDA caught wind of it and decided it sounded like a drug—which they'd have to approve—and not a "supplement." Star Scientific changed their name to Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals in June, and Williams resigned as CEO in August. That really didn't work out well for anyone.
Maureen McDonnell, accompanied by her son Bobby, arrives in court for her sentencing on February 20. Photo via AP