Today’s roundup of news from the final day of arguments, summations and rebuttals in the federal corruption trial of City Councilman Larry Seabrook. Jury deliberations began yesterday afternoon and lasted an hour before jurors were sent home. Deliberations resume Friday morning.
The defense blasted the government’s “so-called evidence” against City Councilman Larry Seabrook during a dramatic closing argument at the Bronx Democrat’s corruption trial yesterday.
Defense lawyer Ed Wilford urged jurors to acquit Seabrook on all counts, likening the prosecution’s presentation to the “three-card monte” scams. “It’s a trick. It’s a shell game,’’ he said.
During his summation, Wilford paced the Manhattan federal courtroom, cracked jokes, and even listed the ingredients in his grandmother’s cake recipe.
He said there was “nothing unusual or untoward” about the $40,000 donated by Leon Eastmond, whom Seabrook helped land a contract for the new Yankee Stadium, and “no proof of intent on the part of Mr. Seabrook to demand a gratuity” in return.
Wilford also insisted there was no need for Seabrook to dummy up receipts — including one that showed that a bagel sandwich and a diet Snapple cost over $177.
“Under the rules, the political club could have given Councilman Seabrook $177 without any doggone bagel receipt!” he thundered.
NY Times: December 1, 2011
City Councilman’s Lawyer Calls Charges ‘Speculation’
During closing arguments in the federal corruption trial against City Councilman Larry B. Seabrook on Thursday, a defense lawyer urged the jury to weigh 30 years of public service against “so-called evidence.”
In their summation a day before, prosecutors had told jurors in Federal District Court in Manhattan that Mr. Seabrook carried out several schemes to funnel money to himself and others through nonprofit groups and a political club that he controlled.
But on Thursday, Edward Wilford, one of Mr. Seabrook’s two lawyers, compared that argument to “a shell game” or a street-corner game of three-card monte.
“There’s no evidence to connect the dots,” he told the jurors. “There’s only speculation to support the government’s theory.”
During a closing argument that lasted about an hour, Mr. Wilford assailed the prosecution’s case from several directions. He reminded jurors that Arlington Leon Eastmond, a Bronx businessman who prosecutors said gave unlawful gratuities to Mr. Seabrook, testified that he had a long history of giving money to the councilman’s political club and wanted to help the community with those donations.
Mr. Wilford went on to portray Mr. Seabrook as an unwitting victim who had entrusted nonprofit groups like the Northeast Bronx Redevelopment Corporation and the African-American Legal and Civic Hall of Fame to seemingly qualified appointees, only to be surprised and disappointed by their actions.
He also questioned the credibility of several government witnesses who had worked for those groups and who had implicated Mr. Seabrook in wrongdoing, but had also acknowledged that they too had committed crimes, including forgery and falsifying financial records.
Under cross-examination, those witnesses, including Tyrone Mitch Duren, an executive director at two nonprofit groups, and Felicia Jude, a secretary at the Northeast Bronx Redevelopment Corporation, told jurors that they had hidden their misdeeds from Mr. Seabrook.
“Where’s the proof that Councilman Seabrook joined a conspiracy?” Mr. Wilford asked. “There is none.”
In a rebuttal, a federal prosecutor, Steve C. Lee, told jurors that Mr. Wilford had engaged in misdirection and distractions during his summation, and he urged them to focus on evidence supporting the charges against the councilman, who did not testify.
“The government has met its burden of proof and surpassed it,” he said. “Larry Seabrook lied and cheated time and time again to get money into his pockets.”
After the summation, Judge Robert P. Patterson Jr. gave instructions to the jury, which then began deliberations.
NY1 News: The fate of Bronx City Councilman Larry Seabrook is now in the hands of a jury.
After hearing from 30 witnesses, the jury will determine whether Seabrook directed city tax dollars to Bronx nonprofit groups he controlled.
Prosecutors say the councilman put his family and friends in no-show jobs and received kickbacks as a thank you.
On Thursday, Seabrook spoke about the trial for the first time since it started three weeks ago.
“I feel fine, and I think my attorneys did an outstanding job and we’ll wait and see,” said Seabrook.
The councilman’s defense team said he had nothing to do with the nonprofits’ wrongdoing.