AP source: Former AG subpoenaed in McDonnell trial

July 25, 2014 - 8:35 PM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is a possible witness in the upcoming corruption trial of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Friday.

The person told the AP that Cuccinelli has been subpoenaed by the McDonnell defense team to potentially testify. The person insisted on anonymity because the subpoena is not supposed to be made public.

The McDonnells' defense team was granted 20 blank subpoenas for potential witnesses in early June. Their trial is set to begin Monday.

The former Republican governor and his wife are accused of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for helping promote the company's dietary supplement.

Cuccinelli, who was the unsuccessful GOP gubernatorial candidate last year, declined to comment through an assistant.

While serving as attorney general during McDonnell's term, Cuccinelli had his own dealings with Williams. Cuccinelli accepted more than $18,000 worth of gifts from Williams and Star Scientific, and once owned more than $10,000 in company stock.

A prosecutor investigated Cuccinelli's failure to promptly disclose the gifts but concluded that the attorney general broke no laws. As the unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor last year, Cuccinelli later donated $18,000 — the amount of the gifts — to a Richmond charity.

Prosecutors have indicated that they intend to explore McDonnell's financial disclosure forms filed when in office, which do not list all of the gifts and loans Williams provided to the McDonnell family. Judge James R. Spencer recently denied the defense's request to withhold those forms being submitted as evidence at trial.

After Cuccinelli's investment in Star Scientific became public, he appointed two private lawyers to defend the state in a lawsuit filed by the company over a tax dispute. The case had been dormant for nearly two years.

Cuccinelli also withdrew as prosecutor in the embezzlement case against former Executive Mansion chef Todd Schneider, who provided authorities information that sparked the McDonnell investigation. In the motion to withdraw, Cuccinelli's office cited a conflict of interest because a potential witness — Mary Shea Sutherland, former chief of staff to Maureen McDonnell — later worked for a company that raised funds for Cuccinelli's campaign for governor. Sutherland never testified because Schneider pleaded no contest to lesser charges, but she is a likely witness in the McDonnell trial.

In another development, McDonnell's attorneys filed a motion seeking copies of documents "purportedly signed by Mr. Williams" and notarized by his former assistant, Jerri Fulkerson, a likely prosecution witness. The motion came a day after the prosecution asked U.S. District Judge James Spencer to compel Fulkerson to answer certain questions that she had indicated she would decline to answer to avoid incriminating herself.

Defense attorneys said prosecutors have indicated that Fulkerson may have signed Williams' signature to some documents she notarized, which they said could be illegal. They said such evidence would allow McDonnell to "impeach not one but two key Government witnesses." Williams is expected to testify under immunity as the prosecution's star witness.