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Prosecutors rest case in corruption trial of Virginia ex-governor, wife

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - The prosecution rested its case on Thursday in the bribery and fraud trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, with an FBI agent outlining the amount of time the couple spent together.

The couple face a 14-count federal indictment charging they accepted $177,000 in gifts and loans from dietary supplement entrepreneur Jonnie Williams Sr. in exchange for promoting his company and its main product, the anti-inflammatory Anatabloc.

Prosecutors' final witness, FBI special agent Kathryn Weber, used pie charts and statistics to show that the McDonnells had spent 90 percent of the 721 nights between April 2011 and March 2013 together.

That was the period in which they were alleged to have conspired to help Williams. Weber said she used telephone records and the couple’s schedules to map their time together.

The health of the McDonnell’s marriage has been a focus of the trial, now in its fifth week. Defense lawyers contend the couple could not have been involved in a conspiracy because they rarely saw or talked to each other.

During five days testifying in U.S. District Court, McDonnell said that he had only performed routine courtesies for Williams, the chief executive of Star Scientific Inc., and that the businessman had never specifically asked him to do anything.

In his cross examination of Weber, defense attorney John Brownlee said the charts did not account for times that Maureen McDonnell may have been away from the governor’s mansion.

Brownlee said that on some of the nights that the couple were said to be together, McDonnell would have arrived at the residence near midnight.

Judge James Spencer dismissed the jury for the day so that he and attorneys could prepare jury instructions.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Friday. It was unclear whether Spencer would require the jury to deliberate over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

To win the case, prosecutors say they must prove that the McDonnells conspired to help Williams and it does not matter whether their efforts were successful or not.

Defense attorneys contend the prosecution has to show that Williams received a significant benefit from his gifts and loans.

If the McDonnells are convicted of all charges, they could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and face hefty fines. McDonnell's term as governor ended in January.

(Editing by Ian Simpson and Doina Chiacu)

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