VIRGINIA

Bob McDonnell felony charges were coming before delay, Post reports

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(WJLA) - Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was told last week that he and his wife would be indicted on felony charges connected to the Star Scientific scandal, the Washington Post reports, but those charges were delayed by the governor's legal team.

The Post reported Thursday night that the outgoing governor and his wife, Maureen, would be indicted very shortly on allegations that they illegally promoted the dietary supplement company while accepting thousands of dollars in gifts from the company's CEO.

However, after a meeting between McDonnell's lawyers and the Department of Justice, the Post says that a decision on those charges was put off, perhaps until next February. By that time, McDonnell will be out of office and governor-elect Terry McAuliffe would hold the Commonwealth's highest position.

In July, McDonnell apologized for the ongoing saga between his family and Star Scientific, specifically their relationship with CEO Johnnie Williams. He also announced that he had returned tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts and loans made to him and his family by Williams.

Those gifts included a Rolex watch, nearly $125,000 in personal and business loans and other gifts for Maureen. McDonnell maintained even after his apology that he didn't disclose the gifts because he wasn't legally required to do so.

"I am embarrassed with some of the decisions that have been made by me or my family that have undermined that trust," McDonnell said in July.

Voters like Cindy Nyer of Falls Church think it's outrageous that charges have been put on hold. 

"I think they're playing favoritism and that he should be treated equally as an average citizen would," she says. 

"Ultimately, I see in January they will bring charges against the governor," says Professor Frank Shafroth, who specializes in Virginia ethics at George Mason. 

He thinks prosecutors may be allowing the McDonnell's to plead their case again or allow the governor to first finish his term before taking action. 

"I think the Justice Department regards itself as having a responsibility to the American people to say 'there are rules and we will enforce them irespective of party or of office,'" Shafroth says.

McDonnell was not asked about the investigation on his final appearance on "Ask the Governor" on WTOP, but he did talk about his future plans. 

"It's time for me to something a bit different," he said. "I can't announce anything today, but you'll be in the top 10 to know."

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