AUGUST 13, 2007
Accusing a jury of being irrational, a federal judge in Pennsylvania has actually overturned a fraud and conspiracy conviction in a corruption scandal involving an upscale cityâ??s public officials.
The unusual move by the judge in the eastern district of Pennsylvania sets free a suburban contractor who secretly took money and jobs from a public official in Norristown, a historic city of about 31,000 residents located less than 20 miles from Philadelphia.
The corrupt official is the cityâ??s administrator (Anthony Biondi) and he has been convicted in the widespread scheme. So has the mayor, Ted LeBlanc, who was found guilty last year of honest services fraud, bribery, bank fraud and tax charges.
The contractor (Thomas Carbo) was charged and subsequently convicted last summer for secretly accepting cash and city work from Norristownâ??s administrator in return for the use of a truck that the official utilized for moonlighting jobs.
In a rare and rather strange move, the federal judge, Mary McLaughlin, overturned the juryâ??s verdict recently. When she issued her 75-page ruling on the matter, Judge McLaughlin said that no â??rationalâ? jury would have found the contractor guilty because he didnâ??t know that the city official was required to disclose their relationship to the state. Carbo faced a few years in prison.
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