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Chuck Turner vows to testify

Chuck Turner vows to testify
By Richard Weir  |   Tuesday, October 26, 2010  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Politics

Photo by Matthew Healey

An undaunted Chuck Turner vowed to take the witness stand in his corruption trial, saying outside a federal courtroom yesterday that as a public official he has a responsibility to personally attest to his own innocence.

“Why would I be afraid?” asked the 70-year-old Boston city councilor. “If I’m guilty, of course, I don’t want to testify. But I’m innocent. . . . I am being accused of a horrendous crime, I have to be accountable.”

But if the sixth-term councilor does testify on his own behalf, the jurors “will crucify his ass,” Ronald Wilburn, the federal government’s reluctant witness, told reporters outside the courtroom.

“He’s gone. . . . They’re going to nail him on perjury,” Wilburn said after wrapping up his third day of testimony and an exhausting cross-examination by Turner’s defense lawyer, Barry Wilson.

When told of Wilburn’s assertions, Turner said he would leave it up to jurors to decide if he is telling the truth.

“This is America. Mr. Wilburn is entitled to his opinion,” Turner said.

Wilburn last week testified — after a judge threatened him with jail if he didn’t — about how he secretly videotaped handing Turner a $1,000 bribe on Aug. 3, 2007. Yesterday, Wilson grilled Wilburn on his money woes and how FBI payments totaling $29,000 were his main source of income.

“They were really upset,” Wilburn said when Wilson asked the former nightclub operator whether he was “criticized” by peers after his identity as a key player in the FBI sting against Turner and then-Sen. Dianne Wilkerson was revealed.

Wilburn, prodded by the FBI, reached out to Wilkerson in 2007 and asked her for help in securing a coveted liquor license for a Roxbury supper club he wanted to open. He ultimately met with Wilkerson five times, paying her a total of $6,500 in bribes for her behind-the-scenes bidding with City Hall.

Wilkerson, who resigned from office, pleaded guilty four months ago to attempted extortion for taking the bribes and other charges.

Wilburn has testified that he slipped a $1,000 cash bribe to Turner in his Roxbury office and recorded it through a camera planted in a briefcase.

“He took the money. He took the $1,000,” Wilburn asserted outside the courtroom yesterday.

In an attempt to further link Turner to the Wilkerson bribery scheme, the prosecution yesterday called City Councilor Bill Linehan, who testified that in August 2007 Turner asked him as the new head of the council’s economic development committee to set a hearing on the denial of many liquor licenses in a minority “empowerment zone.” Then, Linehan said, “(Turner) said he had to check and see if it would work for Sen. Wilkerson. He had asked that she be invited to the hearing once it was scheduled.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1291545

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