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Chuck Turner lawyer’s bizarre admission He only took a little

Chuck Turner lawyer’s bizarre admission
He only took a little
By Laurel J. Sweet  |   Friday, October 29, 2010  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Politics

AWAITS VERDICT: City Councilor Chuck Turner leaves the Moakley Federal Courthouse yesterday.
Photo by Matthew West

The jury sitting in judgment of City Councilor Chuck Turner began deliberations yesterday after a final bizarre twist in the trial — the accused pol’s lawyer said in his closing remarks that his client took no more than $200 of an alleged $1,000 bribe, that FBI informant Ronald Wilburn pocketed the rest and that Turner never did anything for Wilburn.

“The only thing Chuck Turner did knowingly was his job,” defense attorney Barry Wilson bellowed.

Turner sat later, surrounded and reassured by his faithful supporters, waiting for a verdict. “Let’s see what they come back with,” the Roxbury city councilor said.

The six women and six men enter a second day of deliberations todayin U.S. District Court.

The jury asked for Judge Douglas P. Woodlock’s help once yesterday: to obtain a definition for “material statement.” Turner, 70, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of attempted extortion and making false statements to the FBI. The $87,500-a-year councilor also stands to lose his city pension.

Turner, the sole witness in his own defense, denied on the witness stand ever seeing money pressed into his palm in a so-called “minister’s handshake” with Wilburn, a longtime Hub business consultant who was shopping for political muscle to land a liquor license for a proposed nightclub.

Wilson said federal informant Wilburn kept $800 of the $1,000 alleged bribe money Turner is accused of accepting. The money has never been accounted for.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. McNeil scoffed at the eleventh-hour allegation that the informant kept most of the money, calling it “ridiculous.” McNeil told jurors Turner suffered from “magic memory loss” and “selective amnesia.”

“If someone put a thousand bucks in your hand, you’re never going to forget it,” McNeil said. “Never.”

In his closing, McNeil told the jury to examine the rule of law. “In the United States of America no one is above the law. No one gets a free pass. And in the United States of America, politicians are certainly not above the law,” he said.

He noted that a politician doesn’t have to ask for money to be found guilty of extortion and theorized Turner didn’t need to glance at the wad or count the cash because, “Chuck Turner knew it was coming.”

The FBI wired Wilburn to videotape the alleged exchange. Wilburn told Turner, “You take care of me, I take care of you.”

McNeil said of Turner, a Harvard grad, “Just because you go to Harvard doesn’t make you honest.”

Turner supporters and trial watchers packed two rooms at the South Boston court yesterday, including one reserved for a simulcast of the trial.

Wilson chalked up his client’s foggy memory of having met Wilburn in August 2007 to holding “350 hearings a year” and meeting dozens of people a week. “Ron Wilburn is nobody to Mr. Turner. He wasn’t then and he isn’t now,” said Wilson. “He didn’t commit a crime.”

McNeil, afforded a few final last words by the judge, retorted, “If Chuck Turner was only doing his job, then American politics are in a sad state.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1292312

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