Turner’s Hubris Could Be His Downfall

Published October 26, 2010

Chuck Turner is driving his defense attorney crazy.

Barry Wilson won’t say so — he’s Turner’s lawyer after all — but Turner is about to make the job of defending him much more difficult.

Turner expects to take the stand today to defend his honor and honesty, he says. In doing so, his lawyer says Turner opens himself to an all-encompassing attack on his credibility.

The questions include:

  • What did Turner take from Ron Wilburn on Aug. 3, 2007?
  • Was it cash? Was it $1,000 in cash, as the government says?
  • What did Turner do with it?
  • Why didn’t Turner stop Wilburn from giving it to him if it was cash?
  • Why didn’t Turner later try to return the cash to Wilburn?
  • Why would Turner keep any or all of the $1,000?
  • Why didn’t Turner file the money as a campaign contribution, if it wasn’t a bribe?
  • Why would Turner accept any cash?

You can see where this is going, can’t you? Wilson, the attorney, clearly thinks none of this testimony can help his client, however cathartic it might be for Turner.

The defense says the government has failed to prove its burden. There is one sole alleged payment to Turner, witnessed directly only by Wilburn, the government’s key witness, who secretly recorded the transaction on video that doesn’t clearly show the handoff of money.

The defendant’s testimony comes with a number of inconsistencies. And Wilburn, who has admitted to giving bribes before, was paid $30,000 by the FBI to offer Turner a $1,000 bribe (and other bribes to Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, as well).

There seems to be no explicit statements made by Turner that can be construed as extorting Wilburn for a bribe. As defendant, Turner is under no obligation to call witnesses or present any evidence. He could simply take the position that the government has failed to prove its case — failed to prove that Turner extorted a bribe.

But Turner insists on taking the stand, so the defense can’t rest. And the defense of Chuck Turner may become far more complicated than a defense attorney would wish.

Update: Turner has taken the stand.


WBUR’s David Boeri has been covering the trial of City Councilor Chuck Turner. This is Boeri’s latest dispatch from Boston federal court. –AP