Former Virginia 1st lady begins defense at trial

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Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 11:06 am | Updated: 11:17 am, Wed Aug 27, 2014.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A friend of Maureen McDonnell has suggested that the Virginia former first lady was easily manipulated by the wealthy businessman who showered her and her husband with gifts and loans.

April Niamtu testified as a witness for Maureen McDonnell after lawyers for former Gov. Bob McDonnell rested their case Wednesday. The McDonnells are charged with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's dietary supplements.

Niamtu described Maureen McDonnell as "very trusting, very gullible." She said that on a trip to California, the first lady declined Williams' request that she say a few words at a company event with researchers. But she says Williams introduced her anyway and called her to the stage for some remarks.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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