For the past 10 years, from his seat inside City Hall, City Councilor Chuck Turner has been a city leader making the decisions and weighing the testimony on items ranging from the city’s multi-million dollar budget to city policy. Now a dozen men and women are the ones seated, making the decision on Turner’s fate and weighing his testimony.

The jury of his peers yesterday began their deliberations on whether the City Councilor is guilty of extortion and lying to federal agents. If convicted, the 70-year-old Harvard University graduate and long-time activist could face up to 20 years in jail for the extortion charge and up to five years for each of the three false statement charges.

In their last efforts to persuade jurors, Turner’s lawyers and prosecutors gave their closing statements Thursday.

“It doesn’t happen. He doesn’t hand [Turner] any thousand dollars,” said Barry Wilson, Turner’s attorney.

Assistant US Attorney John McNeil argued Turner knew all along he was being handed a cash bribe.

“It was the oldest handshake in American politics. The sly slipping of the cash,” McNeil said.
metro/mn