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FBI: Chuck Turner denied being offered bribe

FBI: Chuck Turner denied being offered bribe

By Marie Szaniszlo  |   Thursday, October 21, 2010  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Politics
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Photo by Matt Stone
Jurors in the federal corruption trial of City Councilor Chuck Turner yesterday heard another day of testimony without hearing from the government’s star witness, who’s still digging in his heels about taking the stand.
Instead of calling Ron Wilburn, prosecutors yesterday brought in FBI Special Agent Julia Cowley, who testified that when she told Turner that state Sen. Dianne Wilkersonhad been arrested for allegedly taking bribes from Wilburn, Turner denied that the Boston businessman had ever offered him money, as well.
“He did acknowledge public corruption was a problem,” Cowley testified. “He said (if) you take out all the corrupt politicians, you take out 90 percent and leave us 10 percent.”
Special Agent Scott Robbins testified that under a “personal services agreement” Wilburn signed May 24, 2007, the FBI paid him from $1,500 to $3,000 per month to secretly record conversations with Turner and offer him bribes in exchange for his help in obtaining a liquor license.
In all, Wilburn made a total of 130 secret recordings for the FBI, which paid him almost $30,000 for his cooperation, Robbins said.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Barry P. Wilson, the agent acknowledged that he didn’t always display on camera the bribe money he purportedly was giving Wilburn. But on those occasions, he later added, he would Xerox the money as a way of recording the exchange.
When asked how thoroughly he had checked into Wilburn’s background before agreeing to use him as a cooperating witness, Robbins said he knew mainly that Wilburn was a “business consultant.”
“What does that mean?” Wilson scoffed, noting that Wilburn’s prior business venture had “not done so well.”
“What was he advising (an associate) on? How not to succeed?”
Wilson argued the only help Turner provided Wilburn was to call a City Council hearing about liquor licenses for minority-owned businesses.
“Isn’t that part of his job, holding hearings?” Wilson asked.
“Yes,” Robbins answered.
“It’s not illegal to hold a fund-raiser, is it?” Wilson asked.
“No,” Robbins said.
“Money is the blood that keeps everybody going in politics,” Wilson said.
“To a large extent,” Robbins answered.
On Tuesday, jurors watched a secretly recorded video showing Wilburn thanking Turner for arranging a hearing for a liquor license, but the video did not clearly record any cash transfer as they shook hands.
“You take the wife to dinner . . . and have some fun,” Wilburn told the councilor in the video of their Aug. 3, 2007, meeting in Roxbury. “I’ll talk to you after the hearing . . . and I’ll take care of you again.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1290364

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