Monday, August 1, 2011

BingoGate: Judge tosses some counts, allows jury to deliberate others

image US District Judge Myron Thompson dismissed some charges against key defendants in the federal corruption trial, but will allow the jury to deliberate on the majority of the counts in the original indictment. Count three—which charged casino owner Milton McGregor and lobbyist Robert Geddie—with attempting to bribe Joseph Crosby, an employee of the state. However, some who are more closely following the trial believe count three believe it involved Barry Mask. UPDATE: Confirmed. It was the $5,000 alleged bribe of Mask.

There is also a possibility that Thompson will dismiss other charges as well. That news—if there as any—should dribble out this afternoon.

Last Friday, all defendants rested their cases, with only Tom Coker’s defense team calling a single witness. Attorneys had reached the decision after a meeting Thursday night.

Not many legal analysts are expecting the defendants to be convicted on every remaining count, but neither are they expecting that all defendants will walk, either. The speed with which the defense rested nonetheless indicates that the defense teams don’t believe the US Attorney’s office met the burden of proof.

People who have attended trial proceedings have told IBCR that the prosecutors were caught off guard by vigorous and effective cross examination of key witnesses. The defense’s use of Senator Scott Beason’s embarrassing racial remarks also caught the prosecution off guard. Lead prosecutor Justin Shur came to this trial with stellar credentials as a prosecutor, having won convictions in several high profile trials.

Recall however that in the process of nearly wrecking the case during the pre-trial discovery process, then lead prosecutor Peter J. Ainsworth “took one for the team” and stepped aside. Shur has won cases where he was the lead dog from start to finish. Bringing him in just weeks before a jury was seated forced him to play catchup and matched his skills against some of the best criminal defense lawyers in the country.

What started out as a promising, solid opportunity to rid Goat Hill of some very bad actors appears to be developing into botched job. The fact that Judge Thompson has now twice seriously considered motions to dismiss and has granted a handful of them doesn’t give the fans of honest government much reason for optimism.

We’ll see what the jury believes.

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