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Judge Denies Motion by Former Governor

A federal judge has denied a request by former Governor Bob McDonnell’s defense attorneys to limit the prosecution’s involvement in a separate, CIVIL case filed by shareholders of Star Scientific. 

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, have pleaded “not guilty” to federal charges of improperly promoting the company’s dietary supplement in exchange for gifts from its former CEO, Jonnie Williams … and they maintain that the civil case is relevant.

The civil case alleges that Star Scientific misled investors and trumped up claims about its supplement and research. U.S. attorneys had won a motion to halt discovery in the lawsuit, saying that since some documents and witnesses may be the same, it could impair the government’s interests in the criminal case—which is built, in part, upon William’s claims. 

Defense attorney James Burnham argued that by interfering in that case, the government had essentially caused a chilling effect among witnesses as his team seeks evidence.  He said his client has 5th and 6th amendment rights to a fair trial, while the government has no such rights. 

Prosecutor Richard Cooke countered that his office had never told witnesses not to speak to the defense.  Judge James Spencer denied the defense motion, and said since the government hid exculpatory evidence in the case of former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, some assume that it will again engage in misconduct.  Spencer said he did not believe that—and urged the two sides to confer.

The judge later granted a defense request for subpoenas of documents pertaining to investigations of Star Scientific by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission.