Attorneys for Todd Schneider, the former executive chef at Virginia's Governor's Mansion have filed a motion to have Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and his deputy Patrick Dorgan subpoenaed to testify in an upcoming hearing related to the charges against Schneider.
Schneider is charged with embezzlement from his time working for Governor Bob McDonnell. His attorney, Steven Benjamin has filed a motion to dismiss. Benjamin has argued that Cuccinelli's decision to bring charges against Schneider were improper because the Attorney General had a conflict of interest in the case.
Benjamin unsuccessfully argued that Cuccinelli and the Attorney General's office should not be allowed to remove themselves from the case. Richmond Circuit Court Judge Margret Spencer agreed to the Attorney General's request to remove him from the case. She appointed the Commonwealth's Attorney from Norfolk in his place.
Spencer reserved judgement on the motion to dismiss, allowing the new prosecutor, Greg Underwood to answer to the motion to dismiss. That hearing is scheduled for Monday July 8th.
In the motion to subpoena, Benjamin argues that it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to prove that the conflict in the case did not impact their decision to bring charges. He believes Cuccinelli himself needs to appear in court to answer questions.
Benajmin must ask Spencer for permission to bring Cuccinelli to court because Virginia law requires a judge to approve the ability to subpoena a sitting Attorney General. The Attorney General's office will get the opportunity to respond to the motion before Spencer renders her decision. It will likely require another hearing before the July 8th court date.
Spencer has kept all sides of the case under a gag order. As a result Benjamin turned down a request to comment on the motion. The Attorney General's office has not responded to our request.
The Attorney General's office responded to our request and turned down an opportunity to comment because of the gag order in the case. However the AG's office has filed their motion in response to the request to subpoena Cuccinelli.
In the response Matthew P. Dullaghan a Senior Assistant Attorney General wrote that the "nature of the testimony that the defendant assumes could be compelled from the Attorney General and his assistant and is based only on speculative and unfounded assumptions," he went on to point out that in their mind the request "is wholly irrellevant to the defendant's motion to dismiss."
You can read the full response here:
The executive chef case is separate from the issues the McDonnell family is dealing with regarding revelations produced by Schneider and their connection to Jonnie Williams the CEO of Star Scientific.
According to the Washington Post, McDonnell and his wife Maureen are the subject of a federal grand jury investigation that is looking into the First Family's relationship with Williams and other high profile donors that may have led to improper benefits for the gift givers.
McDonnell has repeatedly denied giving any donors preferential treatment.
A copy of the motion to subpoena can be found here.
Rachel DePompa contributed to this report.