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Defense Rests In Mecham Criminal Trial

June 11, 1988

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ A jury will be asked to decide next week whether Evan Mecham and his brother committed a crime when they failed to itemize a $350,000 campaign loan - a case the former governor insists is based on ″smoke and mirrors.″

The defense rested Friday in the trial of Mecham and his brother, Willard, without calling either defendant to the stand during the seven days of testimony. The Maricopa County Superior Court jury is to hear final arguments on Tuesday before starting deliberations.

″I’m confident that the state has not proved its case,″ Mecham, 64, told reporters as he left the courtroom Friday.

The former governor stopped short of predicting acquittal but said, ″I think the smoke and mirrors that this whole thing has been created by ... has been totally revealed to the world.″

However, co-prosecutor Michael Cudahy said, ″I think the state position is even stronger after the witnesses called by the defense.″

Judge Michael Ryan denied the Mechams’ requests for a directed verdict, in which the judge would render a verdict without the case going to the jury.

Evan and Willard Mecham, who was his brother’s 1986 campaign treasurer, are charged with concealing the $350,000 campaign loan on financial reports required by the state.

The defense contended the loan was properly reported as part of a $465,000 lump sum listed as a contribution from Mecham. The defense also said the failure to itemize the loan was an innocent mistake.

But the prosecution maintained the Mecham campaign badly needed the $350,000 loan and feared disclosing that it came from developer Barry Wolfson because Mecham’s campaign theme was one of being ″beholden to no one.″

The Wolfson loan was not itemized on either Mecham’s campaign or personal financial disclosure forms.

During Friday’s testimony, Cudahy sought to establish that Evan Mecham was personally responsible for the failure to report the loan because he reported his finances as a candidate rather than a committee.

Anyone who looked at Mecham’s financial reports would not know Mecham borrowed $350,000 from Wolfson, Cudahy contended while questioning Secretary of State Jim Shumway, whose office is responsible for accepting such reports.

″Does the name Barry Wolfson appear anywhere on the post-general contribution and expenditure report filed by Evan Mecham at your office?″ Cudahy asked Shumway, a defense witness.

″I don’t see any contributor by that name,″ Shumway answered.

Mecham is on trial on six felony counts of perjury, willful concealment and filing false documents, and faces up to 22 years in prison if convicted on all counts. His brother is charged with three similar counts and faces up to 9 1/2 years in prison if convicted.

Mecham, a Republican, took office in January 1987. He was removed from office April 4 when the state Senate convicted him of two unrelated impeachment counts.

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