Defense closing in Fumo's trial

March 3, 2009 5:29:52 PM PST
Vince Fumo's attorney spent Tuesday trying to convince a jury not to convict his client. The big question: is it a tough sell.

Dennis Cogan, Vince Fumo's lead attorney, reminded the jury that the U.S. Constitution says a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty, this just a day before they are set to begin deliberations after more than 4 months of trial. Cogan quoted the king from Alice in Wonderland.

"We will have the jury's verdict, no, no said the queen. Sentence first verdict second and little Alice said, stuff of nonsense, whoever heard of such a thing, sentence first verdict second."

Among the 137 corruption charges against the once powerful state senator, is obstruction of justice. His lawyer blames Fumo's former lawyer for giving him "deplorable advice" about erasing e-mails early on in the case, e-mails the federal prosecutor tells the jury were deeply incriminating.

"The evidence is clear. The evidence is unambiguous. The evidence is so vitally clear that there is no criminal intent here whatsoever."

Fumo's attorney is attacking the credibility of various key government witnesses, some of whom have copped pleas of guilty in exchange for leniency at sentencing. Fumo is charged with defrauding the state senate by using his senate staff for personal and political work on his orders. Fumo's lawyer claims he's in this mess because of an overzealous prosecution led by Assistant U.S. attorney Robert Zausmer who says Fumo lived large off of other people's money.

"Where, in the words of Mr. Zausmer, never saw anything like it before corruption on a grand scale, no kickbacks, no bribes, no passing of cash under the table, no selling of one's office, nothing like that. Never saw anything like this you'll never see anything like it, other people's money extravaganza," Cogan told jurors.

Closing arguments are expected to wrap on Wednesday and the jury should get the case sometime in the afternoon.

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