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Dallas Councilman Convicted

January 25, 2000

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) _ A federal jury convicted a Dallas city council member on Tuesday of 65 counts of bribery and conspiracy after deciding that $36,000 in cash payments influenced his votes.

The jury deliberated about four hours before convicting Al Lipscomb, a 74-year-old black civil rights activist. He faces up to life in prison and a fine up to $16.2 million.

``The evidence against him was compelling,″ said prosecutor Michael Uhl. ``Nobody’s above the law _ no matter how old you are, what you’ve done in life or what color you are.″

In closing arguments earlier Tuesday, defense attorneys contended the government had not proven its public corruption case.

``Where’s the evidence of the bribe?″ asked defense attorney Tom Melsheimer. ``Do you think Al Lipscomb waited until he was 70 and then became a crooked politician?″

Defense attorneys said Lipscomb received money from a number of people supporting his civil rights causes but that his voting on the council hasn’t been swayed.

The prosecution contended Lipscomb was influenced by $36,000 he received from a Dallas cab company owner when taxi-related issues came before the council.

Last week, Lipscomb acknowledged that blanks on his campaign finance reports had cast a cloud of suspicion over him and said he put ``not applicable″ on the forms to protect contributors.

``Coming from my era ... I have always made it an effort to protect the people who have helped me in the struggle,″ he testified.

Lipscomb contended his voting record was beyond reproach. ``My votes were to enhance the city of Dallas on every one of those issues,″ he testified.

``This country is full of good civil rights leaders ... those people don’t take money under the table,″ Uhl said Tuesday.

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