- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Prosecutors and defense attorneys are clashing over whether a state senator’s eight-minute phone call to a Democratic Party ward committeewoman was a bribe or just an elected official helping out a constituent.

Prosecutors allege that Democratic Sen. Larry Farnese used $6,000 in campaign money to bribe the committeewoman in 2011 to help his successful candidacy to be become Philadelphia’s 8th Ward leader.

“When you are a ward leader, you are in a position to make some powerful friends. Senator Farnese wanted to be a ward leader very, very badly,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kravis told jurors Tuesday during opening arguments in Farnese’s trial on mail fraud, wire fraud and other charges.


TOP STORIES
Evangelist Franklin Graham calls impeachment hearing 'a day of shame for America'
Rashida Tlaib deletes tweet blaming 'white supremacy' for New Jersey shooting
Student's bus beating seen by millions on Twitter; mom says pro-Trump hat sparked attack


Farnese’s lawyers say the payment, which the committeewoman used for her daughter’s college study abroad program, wasn’t illegal. Defense attorney Mark Sheppard called it “a public figure helping a constituent.”

Farnese’s defense is really, really simple: This was not a bribe. It was never intended to be a bribe. There was never any discussion of it being a bribe,” Sheppard said.



Farnese has been in office since 2009. The two men who held the seat before Farnese went to prison for corruption.

Farnese said in a Facebook post the evening before the proceeding that the charges against him had nothing to do with his actions as a senator.

“There’s no allegation that government funds were misused in any way,” he wrote. “I didn’t give anyone a job or get someone a grant they didn’t deserve, and I didn’t sell my office. … I hope, and I expect, that I will be fully exonerated because I believe that I did nothing wrong.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide