Federal Jury Acquits Farnese in Bribery Case

February 1, 2017

The Legal Intelligencer
By P.J. D'Annunzio

After a five-day trial, state Sen. Lawrence Farnese and Philadelphia Democratic committeewoman Ellen Chapman were acquitted in federal court today of all charges in their bribery case.


“I think the jury saw what we saw all along,” said Farnese’s lawyer, Mark Sheppard, “that there was no crime here.”

Farnese himself expressed his thanks to the jury, the lawyers and to Rufe. He added, “I’ve always believed in the legal system.”


The government pointed to a series of phone calls and emails between Farnese and Chapman on tuition and votes as a “smoking gun.”

“This is no smoking gun,” Sheppard had said in response, maintaining that the $6,000 from Farnese’s campaign fund to Bard was a donation done in the name of constituent service for the father of Chapman’s daughter.

Sheppard also listed other holes he felt riddled the government’s case. Would a bribe really be paid to only one of the 42 voting committee members? Would it be done on the same day Farnese announced his candidacy? Would he have done it by writing a check to Bard with Chapman’s daughter’s name on the subject line? Would he report it on his public financial disclosure? The jury’s response Wednesday was a clear no to those questions.

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Farnese is represented by Montgomery McCracken partner Mark B. Sheppard.