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Prosecution rests in corruption trial of Virginia governor, wife

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[August 15, 2014]  By Gary Robertson
 RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - Prosecutors in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, rested their case on Thursday after showing jurors gifts they said were bribes from a businessman.

Prosecutors led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber wrapped up on the 14th day of the high-profile trial. McDonnell and his wife are accused of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans in exchange for promoting a businessman's company.

The defense is expected to move to dismiss charges on Friday. If unsuccessful, lawyers for the McDonnells will likely begin presenting witnesses on Monday.

On the last day of the prosecution's case, FBI Special Agent David Hulser displayed items that included a Rolex watch, Louis Vuitton shoes and Oscar de la Renta dresses.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Faulconer said the McDonnells began returning the items to Jonnie Williams Sr., former chief executive of Star Scientific Inc, now Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals Inc, after media reports about the gifts and other favors began appearing in spring 2013.

The McDonnells are charged with accepting the gifts and loans in exchange for promoting Williams' dietary supplement Anatabloc through events at the governor's mansion and other official acts.

Lawyers for the McDonnells have contended that the couple could not have been conspiring with Williams, because their marriage was crumbling and they were not on speaking terms.

The McDonnells have arrived in court separately and avoided eye contact during the trial. An attorney for the first lady said she had a "crush" on Williams.

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But prosecutors have produced photos showing the Republican governor and his wife embracing and smiling. Former staff members have said they appeared to be a loving couple.

During his testimony, Hulser produced charts indicating that the McDonnells exchanged more than 300 telephone calls of more than a minute each between April 2011 and February 2013.

During the same period, Williams and the first lady exchanged about half as many calls. McDonnell's four-year term ended in January.

If the McDonnells are convicted, each could face a prison sentence of 20 years and hefty fines.

(Editing by Ian Simpson, Susan Heavey, Richard Chang and Gunna Dickson)

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