WASHINGTON — When former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday, lawmakers were among the friends and family who came to support the couple.
“It’s always tough seeing a friend go through a bad time, and that’s why I was there” says Fairfax County Delegate Dave Albo.
“It’s easy to be a friend when things are good, so when friends of mine have problems I try to support them.”
Members of the Republican leadership of the General Assembly were also sitting just a few rows behind McDonnell in the packed Richmond courtroom.
“I just wanted to make sure that Bob knew his friends are there and if he needs to call upon us for moral support, we’re here,” Albo says.
Aside from being in the General Assembly, Albo is a criminal defense lawyer. He says this is “just the beginning” of a long process.
“Bob says he hasn’t done anything illegal. The United States government says he has, and so 12 jurors, citizens of Virginia, are going to decide what the truth is,” he says.
Albo says McDonnell is “is standing up for what he believes.”
“He must really believe he’s not guilty because according to press retorts he could have taken a plea deal earlier, so he really believes he’s not guilty and that’s the kind of guy he is. He’s going to go up and he’s going to look [at] 12 citizens in the jury box, and explain to them why he’s not guilty,” Albo says.
The trial is slated to start July 28. Prosecutors and defense lawyers predict the case will take about six weeks.