Trenton Mayor Tony Mack faces bribery and extortion charges after
becoming ensnared in a 2010 sting operation with would-be developers
who were actually government informants.
Under the scheme, the developers would buy city property for the
garage for $100,000 less than the land was worth, and the Democratic
mayor would receive money in exchange, prosecutors say.
"Show me the money that Tony Mack received in exchange for his
official influence," said defense attorney Mark Davis in his closing
argument to the jury in U.S. District Court in Trenton.
"Where's the evidence? They don't have it, because it never
happened," Davis said. Mack has pleaded not guilty and remained in
office despite the charges.
Prosecutors say the informants offered a bribe of $119,000, about
$54,000 of which changed hands.
The mayor's brother Ralphiel also is on trial, accused of acting as
a bag man to pick up the bribe money.
Mack, 48, remains in office. He and his brother are charged with
extortion, accepting bribes and scheming to defraud.
Arrested in September 2012, Mack has been accused by critics of
nepotism and mismanagement since taking office in 2010 in the
crime-plagued, economically depressed city of 85,000 people. He was
reportedly deeply in debt at the time of his arrest.
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The jury was expected to begin deliberations on Friday morning.
Mack's defense attorney laid blame on a third man, Joseph
Giorgianni, who also was accused of being a go-between in the
scheme. He has pleaded guilty and is a cooperating federal witness
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Skahill told the jury in his
rebuttal that the many wire-tapped telephone conversations in the
case showed solid evidence of Mack's guilt.
The prosecution contends that Mack used other people — his brother
and Giorgianni — in an attempt to shield himself from culpability.
The prosecutor reminded the jury that in 2012 Ralphiel Mack was
found with $2,500 in marked bills in his pocket.
"The money was in his pants," he said.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Cynthia Osterman)
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