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July 31, 2014

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Former Va. governor, wife released on own recognizance

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The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley / AP

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, arrive at the U.S. District Court in Richmond on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, for a bond hearing and arraignment on federal corruption charges. Federal prosecutors allege that the McDonnells accepted more than $165,000 worth of loans and gifts from Jonnie Williams, the former head of Star Scientific Inc.

RICHMOND, Va. — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were released on their own recognizance Friday to await trial on federal corruption charges.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Novak also ordered the McDonnells not to leave the country. The former governor's lawyer told Novak the defendants already have surrendered their passports.

Clearly exasperated by months of news stories about the case based on anonymous sources, Novak sternly lectured lawyers from both sides not to discuss the case with the media. He warned that such conduct violates a local court rule and could result in contempt of court charges.

"This case is going to be tried in the courtroom; it is not going to be tried in the media," Novak said. "The gamesmanship with the media ends now."

The couple arrived for the bond hearing with an entourage of about two dozen family members and supporters. They said nothing in court other than answering routine questions about whether they understood the charges.

The former Republican governor and his wife were indicted on 14 counts Tuesday after a lengthy federal investigation of his relationship with a former CEO of a dietary supplement maker.

Federal prosecutors allege the McDonnells accepted more than $165,000 worth of loans and gifts from Jonnie Williams, the former head of Star Scientific Inc.

Prosecutors say that in return, the McDonnells improperly helped Williams promote his company's products.

McDonnell, once a rising star in the Republican Party, has denied criminal wrongdoing.

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