- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A judge heard arguments Friday but did not say when he would decide who must testify in response to Philadelphia state Rep. Louise Bishop’s motion to dismiss criminal charges against her stemming from an undercover sting her lawyer accuses of only targeting minorities.

Philadelphia prosecutors are fighting subpoenas by Bishop’s lawyer, who is seeking testimony from an undercover agent and prosecutors who supervised the sting. Prosecutors say that Bishop’s lawyer has no proof of racial targeting and that grand jurors found no evidence of racial targeting after investigating the claim.

But Dauphin County Judge Scott Evans told prosecutor Hugh Burns during arguments that the grand jury setting was not an “adversarial process.”

Defense lawyer Charles Peruto said in court that the agent told a superior in an exit interview that he had been ordered by a prosecutor to target only minorities. Meanwhile, the informant, Tyron Ali, told prosecutors that he could deliver 10 lawmakers - four white, six black - but that the white lawmakers were never targeted, Peruto said. Both allegations are contained in documents he submitted to the court, Peruto said.

Peruto also is seeking testimony from Ali and three top-ranking officials in the attorney general’s office.

He also argued that the case should be dismissed, saying it has been inexcusably delayed for more than two years. But the judge denied the motion.

The charges against Bishop are among those filed by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who revived the case after Attorney General Kathleen Kane abandoned it partly because she says investigators targeted minorities without cause.

Evans also dismissed a motion seeking to send Bishop’s case to a Philadelphia judge.

Six elected Philadelphia officials, all black, were charged in the case. Three people - a former Philadelphia traffic court judge and two former state lawmakers - have pleaded guilty to conflict of interest. Two other sitting lawmakers, Reps. Michelle Brownlee and Vanessa Lowery Brown, are due in Evans’ court at later dates - Brownlee on Monday and Brown on July 13.

Bishop, 81, who has been in office since 1989, is charged with bribery and conflict of interest in the cash-for-favors sting. She is accused of accepting $1,500 from Ali, who posed as a lobbyist, and also agreeing to “stack” a liquor control committee to help push to privatize the state-controlled system on behalf of Ali’s phantom client.

Peruto said Bishop is innocent, never agreed to any illegal exchange of favors for money and used at least some of the money to underwrite a Martin Luther King Day event she organizes.

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