State Sen. Larry Farnese Acquitted of Bribery Charges
A federal jury has acquitted Sen. Larry Farnese of bribery charges leveled against him last May after he was accused of orchestrating a vote-buying scheme during the 2011 ward leader election, the Inquirer reports.
Sen. Farnese was charged with conspiracy and fraud following accusations that he paid $6,000 to send the daughter of committeewoman Ellen Chapman on a study abroad trip so that, in return, Chapman would vote for Farnese to become leader of the Eighth Democratic Ward in Center City. Both Farnese and Chapman, who prosecutors say was initially going to vote for another candidate, were charged. Chapman was also acquitted yesterday.
Farnese and his lawyers have long maintained his innocence, claiming the charges had “no connection whatsoever to his senatorial office.”
The case prompted debate regarding the city’s campaign finance laws. Prosecutors grilled Farnese, claiming the gift had no purpose other than to buy Chapman’s vote. Farnese repeatedly described the donation as a simple act of public service.
Defense expert witness and election lawyer Lawrence J. Tabas noted that such donations were “quite common for candidate committees … over the years,” according to the Inquirer.
Farnese was first sworn into office as senator of Pennsylvania’s 1st District in 2009. His predecessors, Vince Fumo and Henry Cianfrani, were both convicted of corruption and sentenced to prison.
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