Chef Testifies In Virginia Governor Scandal

5:10 PM, Jul 8, 2013   |    comments
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RICHMOND, Va. (WUSA9) -- A politically explosive criminal case is taking shape in Richmond that may threaten the reputation of Republican Governor Bob McDonnell and one of the men who wants his job. 

The embezzlement trial of the Governor's ex-chef is scheduled to take place in October, just three weeks before Virginians elect a new governor. 

Today, the chef was in a Richmond court asking for the case against him to be dismissed.  Circuit Judge Margaret Spencer said she would plan to rule on the dismissal motion by the end of the week. 
Todd Schneider is charged with four felony counts of taking food and supplies from the Governor's kitchen.

Schneider argues that mansion staff told him to take food in lieu of payment for the many private and political events the McDonnells held.  Schneider's attorney said that the Governor's children also took food from the kitchen and that Schneider had to perform jobs that went way beyond the scope of his official duties. The attorney for the Executive Mansion, Tony Troy disagrees and says the mansion chef is required to do many tasks. Troy also said the food the children took was food they carried with them back to college, not unlike any college student.
In Schneider's motion to dismiss, his team argues, in part, that Cuccinelli was not an impartial prosecutor in his decision to charge the chef because he represents the governor and because Cuccinelli also had received thousands of dollars worth of gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams.
Schneider had alerted the AG's office about gifts the Governor and his family had taken from Jonnie Williams, including a $15,000 check he received to cater the Governor's daughter's wedding.   Because of that tie, a Cuccinelli campaign spokesperson says his office "walled him off" from the Todd Schneider investigation. 
Virginia Democrat Communications director Brian Coy says there are still many questions concerning Cuccinelli and gifts he received and why he didn't ask to recuse himself sooner. 
Circuit Judge Margaret Spencer allowed Cuccinelli to withdraw from the Schneider case in May and appointed Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney Gregory Underwood as special prosecutor.  Underwood said in court today, that he sees no reason to dismiss the case. Underwood has argued that the recusal of Cuccinelli's office cured any conflict remaining in Schneider's case. 
The information provided by Schneider has led to state and federal investigations of the Governor into his disclosure of gifts and his relationship with Williams. First lady Maureen McDonnell has promoted the Star Scientific dietary supplement company.
New allegations in recent weeks about more gifts, including a $6,500 Rolex watch the Maureen McDonnell allegedly asked Williams to purchase for her to give to her husband, have led to a call for his resignation.   

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