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Sal DiMasi Corruption Trial Closings: What To Expect

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Sal DiMasi arrives at federal court Friday, May 27, 2011. (Photo by Doug Cope)

Sal DiMasi arrives at federal court Friday, May 27, 2011. (Photo by Doug Cope)

420x316-grad-jones Lana Jones
Lana Jones is a general assignment reporter for WBZ Newsradio 1030....
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BOSTON (CBS) – Closing arguments are scheduled for Friday in the corruption trial of former Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi and two co-defendants.

What To Expect

Prosecutor Ted Merritt will give his final argument first. He will get 90 minutes to summarize the testimony of 24 witnesses – including Joe Lally. Lally is the DiMasi co-defendant turned government witness who told a tale of a sham legal services contract with Cognos software for a DiMasi associate. From that contract, $4,000 a month allegedly went to the then-speaker and $600,000 in payments went to accountant Richard Vitale, from whom DiMasi took a line of credit, ultimately intended to support him in retirement.

Merritt will remind the jury of Governor Deval Patrick’s testimony in which the governor described an angry speaker when the story of the alleged corruption broke in the media.

Each of the three defense lawyers will then get 90 minutes to remind the jury of all the witnesses who said they never heard DiMasi endorse Cognos by name, and all of the witnesses who agreed with the defense contention that Joe Lally is a liar.

The Charges

Each of the three defendants – Sal DiMasi, Richard Vitale, and Richard McDonough – face a count of conspiracy and six counts of honest services fraud; that’s the allegation that DiMasi used his position as Speaker of the House to steer millions of dollars in Cognos software contracts to the state, then collect kickbacks, by way of his associates and co-defendants, for his personal benefit.

There is also a count of mail fraud against each of the men. That stems from a number of emails and document exchanges, including delivery of the legislative language for the software expenditure tailored to the Cognos product, written by a Cognos lobbyist.

The Jury

That is up to six hours of potential closing arguments, on top of about four weeks of testimony for jurors to consider. Before the panel of eight men and eight women (including four alternates) actually get the case they will hear instructions from Judge Mark Wolf. He is expected to tell them that they don’t have to find that DiMasi came up with the scheme, only that he benefitted from it.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones has been covering the trial of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi since jury selection in April.

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