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TODAY   |  January 22, 2014

Former governor charged with accepting illegal gifts

Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has denied wrongdoing following his indictment against him and his wife, Maureen. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>>> the bombshell indictment of bob mcdonnell , a one-time rising star in the republican party , also potential vice presidential candidate in 2012 . he and his wife are accused of accepting cash and gifts. charges the couple strongly denies. pete williams is the nbc news justice correspondent. good morning to you.

>> good morning. some states have a long tradition of seeing their top officials indicted, but not virginia . bob mcdonnell becomes the first man charged with committing crimes in the virginia governor 's office. but he says he did nothing illegal.

>> reporter: in response to the charges, bob mcdonnell describes himself this way.

>> someone who has been falsely and wrongfully accused . and his public service has been wrongfully attacked.

>> reporter: governor mcdonnell and his wife marin asked for and received thousands in money and gifts from a virginia businessman johnny williams , eager for state help in promoting his company's line of dietary supplements . prosecutors say mrs. mcdonnell asked the businessman to take her dress shopping in new york where he spent almost $11,000 at oscar de la renta and $2,000 at louis vitton . she wanted them, court documents say, for her anniversary and daughter's wedding. two years later after they started investigating, she sent some of the dresses back to the businessman suggesting they were only owned and a charity might welcome the chance to auction clothes, quote, worn only once by the first lady of virginia . she persuaded the businessman to give the mcdonnell 's a $50,000 loan and pay $15,000 for catering at their daughter's wedding. and the charges say mcdonnell persuaded williams to make a $50,000 loan to a business co-owned by the governor. mcdonnell said all of it amounted to personal favors.

>> i never promised, and mr. williams and his company never received any government benefit of any kind for me or from my administration.

>> mcdonnell also said he repaid all of the loans with interest. he and his wife appear in court friday to face the charges. savannah?