RICHMOND -- The trial for former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, began Monday after nearly a year of scandal and months of legal wrangling.

Twelve jurors and four alternates were seated to hear the case. The judge told potential jurors who didn't make the cut, 'Pray for the rest of us, we need it.'

The McDonnells were indicted by a federal grand jury in January on a list of fraud-related charges.


Among the charges are honest-services wire fraud, obtaining property under color of official right, making false statements and obstruction of official proceedings.

The charges were filed after a criminal investigation into the relationship the McDonnells had with wealthy businessman Jonnie Williams.

Williams owned Star Scientific, which makes a dietary supplement called Anatabloc. Federal prosecutors allege the McDonnells accepted lavish gifts and cash from Williams in exchange for help promoting Anatabloc in state government.

Gifts to the McDonnells included a custom engraved Rolex watch, interest-free loans, shopping sprees and catering at the wedding for one of McDonnell's daughters.

The former governor has denied any wrongdoing. Late last year, he repaid the interest-free loans and returned many of the gifts he received from Williams.

Monday was spent polling 150 potential jurors. Many of the questions dealt with whether or not potential jurors had experience in accounting, banking or lending.

The former governor told reporters Monday morning that he was ready to get his trial behind him.

'I feel good. Well, I'm glad we're finally gonna get a chance to present our defense in court,' McDonnell said.

Before the trial's opening, federal prosecutors filed a list of 61 potential witnesses, including Maureen McDonnell, the couple's three children, and one-time friend Jonnie Williams, whose gifts are the crux of the government's case against the couple.

Also on the list, are notable political figures including former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey Bryant.

The trial is expected to last at least a month.

13News Now will be in the courtroom as attorneys for both sides pick a jury and make opening arguments.

You can also follow the latest updates on our live blog or by following reporter Nick Ochsner on twitter at @13NickOchsner.

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