Supreme Court overturns bribery conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

FILE -In this Tuesday, May 12, 2015 file photo, Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell navigates a group of cameras as he leaves the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a hearing the appeal of his corruption conviction in Richmond, Va. A federal appeals court has declined to review the case, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, letting his convictions on public corruption charges stand.(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

WASHINGTON (AP) – A unanimous Supreme Court has overturned the corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in a ruling that makes it harder to prosecute elected officials accused of bribery.

The justices ruled Monday in favor of McDonnell, who was found guilty in 2014 of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman in exchange for promoting a dietary supplement.

The former governor says he never took any official action to benefit Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams or pressured other public officials to do so. McDonnell says he simply performed routine courtesies for Williams like setting up meetings and hosting events.

Prosecutors said McDonnell accepted personal benefits with the understanding he would try to take official action to help Williams.

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