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Jury to hear 2nd week of testimony in DeLay trial

Jury to hear 2nd week of testimony in DeLay trial

November 8th, 2010 by JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press in News

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Both the prosecution and defense remained confident things were going their way as testimony in the money laundering trial of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was to start its second week on Monday.

Prosecutors were to resume presenting their case, in which they accuse DeLay of using his political action committee to illegally funnel $190,000 in corporate donations into Texas legislative races eight years ago.

DeLay, who has denied any wrongdoing, told reporters last week that prosecutors have yet to show any evidence he broke the law.

"We will prevail," said DeLay, who is charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

None of the 12 witnesses who have testified for prosecutors have directly tied DeLay to the alleged scheme.

Prosecutors allege DeLay and two associates - John Colyandro and Jim Ellis - illegally channeled the corporate donations collected by DeLay's Texas PAC, through the Washington-based Republican National Committee. Under Texas law, corporate money cannot be directly used for political campaigns.

Dick DeGuerin, DeLay's lead attorney, has stressed to jurors that DeLay had little involvement in running the PAC. The money swap the PAC was involved with was common and legal, and no Texas candidate got corporate money, he said.

The presentation of evidence has been methodical and driven by documents, and testimony has gone into great detail about political fundraising and the work of lobbyists.

Travis County Assistant District Attorney Gary Cobb said prosecutors are presenting many pieces of the alleged scheme that will ultimately "give the jury the big picture."

Expected to testify this week were the seven Texas legislative candidates prosecutors allege received laundered corporate donations.

The trial is expected to last at least three weeks.

Prosecutors say the money helped Republicans take control of the Texas House in 2002. That majority allowed the GOP to push through a Delay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004 and strengthened DeLay's political power, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors deny defense claims that the charges are politically motivated.

DeLay's defense team tried moving the trial out of Austin - the most Democratic city in one of the most Republican states.

DeLay has been pressing for a trial since he was indicted five years ago, but the case was slowed by appeals.

The criminal charges in Texas, as well as a separate federal investigation of DeLay's ties to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, ended his 22-year political career representing suburban Houston. The Justice Department probe into DeLay's ties to Abramoff ended without any charges filed against DeLay.

Ellis and Colyandro, who face lesser charges, will be tried later.

DeLay, whose nickname was "the Hammer" for his heavy-handed style, now runs a consulting firm based in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land. In 2009, he appeared on ABC's hit television show "Dancing With the Stars."