Jury Finds Pa. State Sen. Not Guilty on Vote Buying Charges

February 1, 2017

By Dan Packel

A Pennsylvania state senator escaped charges that he bribed a local Democratic committee member to support his candidacy to become a ward leader, after a federal jury delivered a sweeping not guilty verdict on its second day of deliberations.

The jury found both Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia, and codefendant Ellen Chapman innocent of all 13 charges brought by the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section.

“We’re grateful for the jury’s service and verdict,” Farnese’s attorney Mark Sheppard of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP said after the trial concluded. “They saw the case as we did. There was never a crime here.”


Sheppard described Farnese’s efforts on behalf of Chapman as “constituent service.” The senator said he initially pledged to help Chapman find funding for the study abroad program. Five days after the phone call, when Chapman had already voiced her support for his candidacy, Farnese sent her an email saying that he would write a check covering $6,000 in tuition.

“This was what Senator Farnese does best: helping others,” Sheppard said in closing arguments Monday.

Jurors started deliberating late Monday afternoon, and returned their verdict after lunch on Tuesday.

Afterwards, Sheppard returned to the point he made earlier in the week.


Farnese is represented by Mark Sheppard, Arianna G. Goodman and Michael C. Witsch of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP.