Pennsylvania senator acquitted in ward election case

February 1, 2017

Morning Times
By Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal court jury acquitted a Pennsylvania senator Wednesday of charges he spent $6,000 in campaign money as a bribe to help him win a Democratic Party ward leadership election in 2011.


Farnese’s lawyers contended the Justice Department had overreached in trying to regulate Philadelphia’s Democratic City Committee and criminalize behavior that had been legal in Pennsylvania politics for decades, the Inquirer reported.


Farnese’s lawyers countered that the payment was a “good deed” for a deserving constituent and entirely legal. They argued the pair never discussed the payment as a bribe. It was made in plain sight, paid with a check and disclosed on Farnese’s Senate campaign finance filing, his lawyers told the jury. A criminal would not have paid a bribe with a check or kept allegedly incriminating emails about illegal agreements, like Farnese did, his lawyers argued.


Farnese’s lawyers said Farnese won the election unanimously, and it made no sense to bribe just one of dozens of Eighth Ward committee members to swing the election. In any case, Farnese already had the support to win the election, they argued.


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