The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned former governor Robert McDonnell’s bribery conviction.
According to published reports, the nation’s highest court agreed yesterday morning that prosecutors did not prove McDonnell took significant official actions in exchange for about $175,000 in gifts and loans he received from wealthy businessman Johnnie Williams.
The justices found that it was not clear that McDonnell was convicted of committing an official act in exchange for bribes, according to reports. The jury in McDonnell’s case was not correctly instructed on the meaning of “official act” and thus may have convicted him for conduct that is not against the law, according to Chief Justice John Roberts.
McDonnell’s case now goes to a federal appeals court, which could choose to set a new trial or dismiss it.
A jury previously convicted the former governor on 11 counts of corruption. He was sentenced to two years in prison, but the Supreme Court ordered that he remain free pending his appeal.