A longtime aide to businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. said Wednesday that she couldn’t speak to reports of a borderline inappropriate relationship between her boss and former first lady Maureen McDonnell, but she provided details about a number of trips and events she helped plan for the McDonnell family on behalf of the wealthy businessman.
“I don’t know how close they were,” said Jerri Fulkerson, an aide to Mr. Williams, referring to disclosures Tuesday that Mrs. McDonnell had a “crush” on the former head of Star Scientific Inc. with whom she corresponded regularly.
She did say, though, that a trip to Michigan the two took together “was for business.”
David Harbach, arguing for the prosecution, asked Ms. Fulkerson if she ever suspected anything more than a business relationship between the two, but Judge James R. Spencer sustained a defense objection before she could answer the question.
Mr. Harbach spent much of the morning asking Ms. Fulkerson about trips and arrangements she made on behalf of Mr. Williams for the McDonnells, which included a trip to the 2011 Final Four in Houston, a “late dinner” at the Executive Mansion in spring 2011, and a vacation in summer 2011 at Mr. Williams‘ Smith Mountain Lake home.
The prosecution also revealed late-night emails from the McDonnells and asked Ms. Fulkerson about arrangements he made on behalf of other McDonnell family members, such as a Florida trip for one of their daughters, Rachel, and a friend in 2012 and a trip to Savannah, Georgia, for two of the McDonnell daughters for their sister Jeanine’s bachelorette party in early 2013.
Mr. Williams also gave Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky and her husband Adam, a former aide to Mr. McDonnell, a $10,000 check and first-class plane tickets for their honeymoon as a wedding gift, Ms. Fulkerson said.
Mr. and Mrs. McDonnell have been accused of taking more than $150,000 in gifts and loans in exchange for helping Mr. Williams‘ business interests. The McDonnells have pleaded not guilty to all counts.
With regard to loans to the former governor, two checks from a fund set up by Mr. Williams were made out to MoBo Realty for $50,000 on March 6, 2012, were voided because Ms. Fulkerson wrote “Maureen McDonnell” on the memo line, Ms. Fulkerson said.
MoBo Real Estate Partners is a company owned by Mr. McDonnell and his sister.
She wrote a third check with “Beach House” in the memo line. On May 22, 2012, $20,000 was transferred to MoBo real estate and both amounts were included on end-of-year financials for Mr. Williams‘ trust in 2012.
Ms. Fulkerson said she was not aware of receiving “immunity” from the government in exchange for her testimony. Her lawyer, George Terwilliger, clarified after she left the stand that her words in the testimony cannot be used against her in any future prosecution.
She also testified that Mr. Williams, who the defense has labeled a “master manipulator” and is working to discredit, routinely directed her to sign his own name on documents and even notarize them.
“I don’t know if you would call it forgery,” she said. “I did what he told me … to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never signed anything to help him cover up anything.”
She also testified that former Virginia attorneys general Jerry Kilgore and Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II have used a jet arranged by Mr. Williams, as has 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Mr. Williams arranged for Mr. McDonnell to use a jet in the fall of 2010 for a political trip to the West Coast.