RICHMOND, Va. (WUSA9) -- Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell's sister took the stand in her brother's federal corruption trial on Tuesday, talking about her brother's troubled marriage.
Bob McDonnell's youngest sister has the same name as his wife, Maureen, but his sister goes by "Mo." Mo told the court that her brother's wife had two sides to her and that you were never sure which one you were going to get. Mo said Maureen could be "sweet and tender" or "manipulative, unpredictable and deceptive."
Mo said that she'd seen the former first lady of the Commonwealth hide things from Bob McDonnell. She testified that the public perception of their marriage was much different than what happened in private. Mo testified that Bob and his wife would barely communicate. She also stated that the communication in Bob and Maureen McDonnell's marriage was already broken but had gone from bad to worse when her brother became governor. According to Mo, wife Maureen felt trapped in the Executive Mansion and once texted her "I'd like to see you before I have to go back to that prison mansion."
Mo also said that wife Maureen was "incredibly passionate almost to the point of great irritation" about vitamins.
Mo co-owned MoBo Real Estate LLC with Bob McDonnell. Mo testified that she never lost a single night's sleep worrying about MoBo or money. The defense is trying to show that Mo was financially stable and had the money to finance MoBo and their properties. Mo testified that she accepted loans to MoBo not because she needed the money but because MoBo was of little priority in her life.
In 2012, Mo made well over $500,000 and had additional assets in stocks and bonds. She had retirement funds totaling more than $700,000. Mo testified that she was "blessed to have experienced financial success" and that she never worried about MoBo's finances. In March 2012, around the time of a Starwood Trust loan, Mo had received a $70,000 bonus. She also vacationed to Jamaica with her family. Mo said she could have loaned money to MoBo LLC but that it was financially smarter to invest that bonus in stocks with her company.
When Mo returned home from her vacation in March 2012, she said she had text messages from wife Maureen about a FedEx package with a check. Mo described wife Maureen's communication about that package to be confusing. Mo said wife Maureen screamed at her husband when Mo called Bob to ask about the check because his wife claimed she was responsible for securing the loan, not the former governor. A few days later, Mo texted her brother Bob saying I "really don't like the relational tension dividing our families" and that it "doesn't need to be this hard. Makes me sad."
Mo said the reason for the MoBo's late payments in 2009 were due to lack of oversight by her ex-husband Michael Uncapher. Mo testified that she had plenty of money to cover MoBo's expenses, but that because of her personal medical and marital issues, the bills were neglected. She said Michael Uncapher was sloppy at keeping up with the finances, unbeknownst to her. Mo also testified that she later found out Michael Uncapher was transferring money from MoBo to another account and then to himself.
Mo said it was her idea to buy Virginia Beach vacation properties and that she asked Bob to purchase with her. She testified that she could have purchased the properties on her own, but that she included Bob because the properties were about making memories with family and not primarily to turn a profit.
Mo testified that her brother Bob knew he could always come to her for money. She said many of the McDonnell siblings were "financially blessed" and Bob knew he could turn to them for money if needed. The defense is trying to show that Bob and MoBo were not financially desperate and did not need money from then-Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams.
On hearing testimonies about his wife's challenging behavior, the former governor said, "Yes, it's very difficult. No one likes to talk about their marriage in front of the entire country but this is part of the case."
When asked how his family is handling things, he replied, "I've got an amazingly strong family. My children are terrific. and my best asset in life is my kids.
The prosecution went back and forth with Mo regarding her finances and whether or not she felt financial pressure. Mo said she did not feel any pressure and that she had assets she could liquidate to make MoBo payments if she wanted. Mo said she wanted to use her money to invest instead. The prosecution tried to show that there would be penalties if she liquidated an asset like her retirement fund.
Kathleen Scott, the former first lady's special assistant, also testified to her "hot and cold" personality, confirming what Mo said about never knowing what you were going to get from Maureen McDonnell. Scott confirmed prior testimonies that Maureen was extremely difficult to work for. Scott was among the employees who wrote and signed a letter to Mrs. McDonnell threatening to quit if her behavior didn't change. Scott said she loved working at the mansion and wanted to stay and was just hoping to make the situation better.
Scott described Maureen as a very anxious and stressed person. She said her anxiety would increase leading up to events she had to attend and also when her husband was travelling. Scott said you could tell that being the first lady was not what Maureen wanted to do with her life. She testified that Maureen felt a loss of privacy and said she resented her role as first lady.
When asked how Maureen felt about Jonnie Williams, Scott said "I could tell that she liked him very much." While Scott never saw Maureen and Williams interact, she said she would see the former first lady moments after. She said Maureen would light up when she talked about Williams and that he made her feel very special.
As part of her job, Scott said she took the liberty of organizing Maureen's vanity while she was away. Scott said while organizing, she found a watch in the back of a drawer along with other jewelry and trinkets. Scott testified that the watch seemed expensive so she put in it in a box and placed it up high. When Maureen couldn't find the watch, she called Scott irate and asked if she had taken it. When Scott told her where to find the watch, she said Maureen hung up the phone.
Kathleen Scott also testified that Maureen would use her husband's name to get what she wanted. She recalled a time when Maureen told her staff to put Anatabloc in a gift bag and said "the governor wants it in there." Scott said it was clear that request did not come from Bob McDonnell.
Last on the stand Tuesday was an expert witness for the defense called to analyze the McDonnells' finances. CPA John Kosowsky testified that, after analyzing their bank accounts, tax returns, credit card statements and other assets, Bob McDonnell and Mo McDonnell were both "financially sound." Kosowsky showed charts that indicated Mo had more than $1 million in assets. He also said that the siblings' real estate fire MoBo had a financial outlook that was moving in the right direction.
During his testimony, Jonnie Williams said that on May 1, 2012, Maureen McDonnell told him that she and her husband had tapped out there credit cards. Kosowsky's analysis shows that the couple had an available credit limit around $200,000 at that time and just under $13,000 cash available.
During cross examination, the prosecution emphasized that Kosowsky was receiving $420 per hour for his services, 20% off his usual rate. The prosecution said that totals between $60,000 and $80,000 for his service thus far in the trial. The government also showed that Kosowsky only used "some" of Jonnie Williams testimony for his analysis, as selected by the defense.
Kosowsky will return to the stand Monday as the prosecution continues to try to poke holes in his analysis of the McDonnells' finances.