Edwards’ Defense Rests
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Final arguments are scheduled to begin Monday in the federal racketeering trial of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards and seven others after the defense rested its case.
Defense attorneys on Thursday renewed their effort to have the charges dismissed after U.S. District Judge Marcel Livaudais sent jurors home for the weekend, warning them to avoid newspaper or broadcast reports about the case.
The jury will be sequestered when it returns Monday to hear final arguments, said U.S. Attorney John Volz. Lawyers said deliberations could begin Tuesday or Wednesday, after the judge instructs jurors on points of law.
Attorneys for Perry Segura, Philip Brooks, Gus Mijalis, Marion Edwards and Charles David Isbell urged Livaudais to throw out the charges immediately. They said there is no evidence to back up prosecution claims that the men took part in an illegal $10 million hospital invstment scheme.
Michael Fawer, representing Brooks, called the charges ″nonsense, judge.″
The defendants are accused of using their political clout to obtain state certification for hospital and nursing home projects in which they held interests. Edwards acknowledged making almost $2 million on the deals between the end of his second term in 1980 and the beginning of his third in 1984.
Prosecutors say he tried to hide his interest in the deals from the public and that he took actions after taking office to help further the scheme.
One of the governor’s lawyers, Camille Gravel, asked Livaudais to reserve judgment on the request to throw out the charges until after the jury reaches a verdict. Lawyers for the remaining defendants, Ronald Falgout and James Wyllie Jr., made similar requests.
Earlier in the trial, Edwards had withdrawn a motion for immediate acquittal, saying he wanted to tell his side of the story and let a jury decide. Livaudais did not indicate Thursday when he would rule.
Wrapping up their defense, the attorneys said there is no evidence to support a key allegation that state health department employee John Landry was bribed with a promotion for helping get projects certified.
They noted that the head of the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources, Sandra Robinson, said Edwards had nothing to do with the promotion.
Prosecutors had said there was sufficient evidence that the conspiracy operated and that Landry was bribed. They also noted that Brooks helped conceal the fact that Edwards, Falgout and Wyllie owned interest in four hospital projects by holding stock for them in his own name.