Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jury Begins Deliberations In Farnese Trial

By George Anastasia
for BigTrial.net

The quid pro quo bribery case against state Senator Lawrence Farnese and Committeewoman Ellen Chapman is now in the hands of a federal jury.

The panel of seven women and five men deliberated for about an hour later this afternoon before retiring for the day. The jurors are scheduled to resume Wednesday morning.

The jury got the case after hearing Judge Cynthia Rufe outline the laws that applied int he 13-count federal indictment pending against the two defendants. Among other things, the judge told the jurors that the events at the heart of the case are not in dispute, but the intentions of the two defendants were.

She said the jury would have to decide whether there was criminal intent.

The case is built around the allegation that Farnese used his campaign fund to donate $6,000 to help finance a college study abroad semester for Chapman’s daughter Hannah in 2011. At the time she was a student at the University of Pennsylvania.

Prosecutors alleged that Farnese made the donation in exchange for Chapman’s promise to support him in his bid to become leader of the city’s 8th Ward Democratic Committee. The defense argued that the donation and the ward leader election were two separate issues, pointing out that Farnese was elected unanimously and did not need Chapman’s vote. 

Defense attorneys argued that the donation was constituent service and a "good deed."

Prosecutors contended that Farnese paid a bribe to "buy" Chapman's vote and that Chapman willing sold it. 

 Farnese, a boyish looking 48-year old state legislator, is the third consecutive state senator from Philadelphia's First Senate District to face corruption charges. The late Henry “Buddy” Cianfrani and Vincent Fumo were convicted. Each served prison sentences. 

Farnese was re-elected in November, just months after the indictment was announced. 

He and Chapman, 62, are charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and violating the travel act (a somewhat esoteric statute that prohibits the use of the mail or travel to further a criminal act). 

George Anastasia can be reached at George@bigtrial.net

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