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Chuck Turner’s lawyer drops closing-argument bombshell Jurors sent home for the day

Chuck Turner’s lawyer drops closing-argument bombshell
Jurors sent home for the day
By Laurel J. Sweet  |   Thursday, October 28, 2010  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Politics

Photo by Patrick Whittemore

In a final bizarre bombshell in the corruption case of Chuck Turner, the city councilor’s attorney said today in his closing remarks that his client took only $200 while an FBI informant pocketed the rest.

Defense attorney Barry Wilson said federal informant Ronald Wilburn kept $800 of the $1,000 alleged bribe money Turner is accused of accepting.

“The only thing Chuck Turner did knowingly was his job,” said Wilson in a packed U.S. District Court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. McNeil scoffed at the 11th-hour allegation, calling it “ridiculous.”

The jury was then handed the case and deliberated for most of the day before being sent home without a verdict just before 5 p.m. The jury did ask one question about material statements.

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.

The two-week bribery case had been entertaining from the start and today’s closing arguments did not disappoint. Even though Turner has denied ever seeing the $1,000 wad allegedly slipped to him by businessman Wilburn in exchange for his help in landing a liquor license for a proposed nightclub, Wilson shocked the court with his allegation Wilburn skimmed most of the cash.

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

Judge Douglas P. Woodlock turned the case over to jurors today after instructing them on the law.

Turner, 70, charged with attempted extortion and making a false statement to the FBI, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

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=1292194

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