RICHMOND, Va. — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges that they traded their influence for tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and loans, and both will be allowed to remain free until their trial.
Bob and Maureen McDonnell were released on their own recognizance Friday but were ordered by U.S. Magistrate Judge David Novak not to leave the country. The former governor's lawyer, John Brownlee, told Novak the defendants already have surrendered their passports.
Clearly exasperated by months of news stories about the case based on anonymous sources, Novak sternly lectured lawyers from both sides not to discuss the case with the media.
Their trial has been set for July 28.
Bob and Maureen McDonnell said nothing in court other than answering routine questions about whether they understood the charges.
The indictment handed down Tuesday accuses the couple of accepting gifts such as shopping sprees for designer clothes and accessories, a Rolex watch, $15,000 in catering expenses for a daughter's wedding, golf outings and a lake-house vacation stay. It connects those gifts to support that Maureen and Bob McDonnell gave to Star Scientific, a Glen Allen, Va.-based company that makes dietary supplements.
The investigation crippled the chances of attaining higher office for McDonnell, once a rising star in the Republican Party. He has apologized for what he describes as bad judgment and has said he repaid about $120,000 in gifts and loans. But he has steadfastly denied breaking any laws.
If convicted, the McDonnells could face a long stretch in prison. Twelve of the charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, two by up to 30 years. Potential fines range from $250,000 to $1 million.