Exec: Wary of Williams-Gov. McDonnell relationship

RICHMOND, Va. (WUSA9) -- Jonnie Williams has been the primary witness from his company, Star Scientific, throughout the McDonnell trail, but on Friday another executive from the company took the stand.

Paul Perito, a former federal prosecutor was the board chair and COO at Star Scientific when Jonnie Williams spent 165-thousand dollars of his own money lavishing the McDonnells with shopping trips, vacations, golf outings and loans.

Perito said he was originally wary of William's relationship with the Governor McDonnell and the first lady.

But, he came to view it as a "Halo effect" with the state's chief executive giving credibility to their product Antabloc. However, he emphasized that he had no knowledge of the gifts and loans Williams lavished on the McDonnells.

The Star executive said it was the company's desire to get state-funded research on Antabloc using Tobacco commission money.

Star Scientific had hired Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore to pursue those tobacco grants, and in his testimony Perito testified that he was unaware that Jerry Kilgore's brother was Terry Kilgore, the chair of the Virginia Tobacco commission.

Also taking the stand Friday was Matt Conrad, the former deputy chief of staff for Governor McDonnell. He said the governor asked about the definition of a friend. State disclosure forms don't require officials report gifts from friends. Conrad said he told him, "those people who were friends before you ran for office." Conrad also testified that he had heard there were piles of gifts in the first lady's closet.


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