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Defense rests in Chuck Turner corruption trial

Defense rests in Chuck Turner corruption trial
By Laurel J. Sweet  |   Wednesday, October 27, 2010  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Politics

Jurors will tomorrow begin deliberating the fate of City Councilor Charles ‘Chuck’ Turner, seen here outside U.S. District court in Boston yesterday, where he is being tried on bribery charges.
Photo by Mark Garfinkel

Jurors will tomorrow begin deliberating the fate of Charles “Chuck” Turner, whose defense abruptly rested this morning after — over the objection of his attorneys — the city councilor took the witness stand for a second straight day.

The brief and sometimes bizarre proceeding concluded with a Turner supporter being removed from the packed federal courtroom by security for standing up and silently mimicking applause.

Close arguments will also be presented tomorrow.

Outside U.S. District Court in Boston, Turner’s defense lawyer Barry Wilson said, “He should be proud of himself for what he’s done here.” Wilson also railed against federal authorities for trying to take the popular Roxbury pol down on charges he took a $1,000 bribe to help a Boston businessman turned FBI informant obtain a liquor license for a proposed nightclub.

“All they tried to do was besmirch a man’s reputation,” Wilson said. “It’s a little hard to not want to get up there (on the witness stand) and not say what you believe.”

Though cross-examined for only an hour by assistant U.S. Attorney John T. McNeil, an oft-rambling Turner, 70, was repeatedly rapped today by Judge Douglas P. Woodlock for seemingly evading answering the prosecutor’s questions and for using the hot seat as a soapbox.

“I’m just trying to do my job,” Turner frequently said, while artfully peppering his answers with inflammatory phrases such as “sting operation” and “sprung your trap” to characterize his plight. He is accused of attempted extortion and making false statements to the FBI.

Turner called the alleged cold-cash handoff by Wilburn “a minister’s handshake” and said he never looked down at what he was being given. He told McNeil, however, he would have thought it “strange” if he had seen money in his hand.

Turner acknowledged blogging at one point that President Obama and Vice President Biden may have been part of a conspiracy to unseat him, telling McNeil, “It’s one line of thought. I don’t know if it’s true. It’s worth thinking about.”

He also admitted accusing FBI agents who questioned him about informant Ronald Wilburn in August 2007, more than a year before Turner’s arrest, of working for racists and telling them, “If you take out all the corrupt politicians, you take out 90 percent.”

At one point, Turner insisted a color photograph McNeil showed him of Wilburn was black and white. Wilson passed on Woodlock’s offer to step in when McNeil was finished.

Later, Wilson told reporters, “The jury’s had an opportunity to learn who Mr. Turner is. Mr. Turner did what he felt he had to do.

“What people should question is what was going on here. There was no understanding, no agreement, that Mr. Turner was going to do anything beyond his job. That’s what the facts showed before Mr. Turner even addressed the jury.”

Former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who Wilburn also took down with bribe money she was infamously photographed stuffing in her bra at a Beacon Hill restaurant, is awaiting sentencing.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1291879

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