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Farnese acquitted of corruption charges in federal trial

The Democratic state senator was accused of engineering a bribery scheme.

State sen. Larry Farnese speaks at a 2015 town hall meeting.

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A Democratic state senator from Philadelphia beat the U.S. government Wednesday and walked out of federal court after being acquitted of corruption charges.

State Sen. Larry Farnese was found not guilty of trying to buy a Democratic committee member’s vote for leader of the Eighth Ward with a $6,000 gift.

Mark B. Sheppard, Farnese’s attorney, said the key to the case was persuadingthe jury that the gift to committee member Ellen Chapman was just an example of “a politician who was helping a constituent.”

“They saw what we saw from the beginning — there was no crime here and this was just a public official helping a deserving young woman,” Sheppardsaid in a statement.

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Farnese, whose represents a district including a huge swath of the city, from South Philly through Center City and into the Northeast, was indicted in May on charges of conspiracy and mail fraud.

Federal prosecutors alleged at the time that in 2011, "Farnese andChapman devised a bribe scheme in which Farnese paid $6,000 to a college study-abroad program for Chapman’s daughter in exchange for Chapman’s agreement to use her position with the Eighth Ward Democratic Committee to support Farnese in the upcoming ward leader election.”

Farnese was accused of using cash from his campaign and listing it on a campaign-finance report as a “donation.”

But defense attorneys argued there was nothing wrong with the donation, even though Chapman, one of about 50 committee members, acknowledged that she changed her support in the Eight Ward leader vote after getting the gift.

Chapman, charged as Farnese’s co-defendant, was also acquitted of all charges.

The bruisingindictment against Farnese came just as U.S. Rep.Chaka Fattah was going to trial on fraud charges. Fattah is nowserving a 10-year prison sentence.

 
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