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FBI agent in Chuck Turner corruption trial says he did not record cash used as bribe

Posted by Metro Desk  October 20, 2010 12:47 PM

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The defense in City Councilor Chuck Turner's corruption trial went on the attack today, forcing an FBI agent to admit he failed to record himself counting out the $1,000 bribe Turner is accused of taking.

FBI Special Agent Scott Robbins, who directed the corruption investigation that targeted both Turner and former state senator Dianne Wilkerson, was the only witness this morning in US District Court. Robbins said he counted out money used for alleged bribes at other points in the investigation.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Barry P. Wilson focused on how Robbins kept track of the cash the FBI gave to cooperating witness Ronald Wilburn he was to use as bribes.

On the key date in the Turner case – Aug. 3. 2007 – Robbins acknowledged he did not record himself counting out the $1,000 cash that Wilburn allegedly handed to Turner in a meeting that was recorded on both audio and video.

"You didn't show it to any cameras on Aug. 3, 2007?" Wilson asked of Robbins.

"No, I did not,'' Robbins replied.

Under questioning from Wilson, Robbins said the manner in which he handled the FBI cash on Aug. 3, 2007, was different than what he did on Sept. 12, 2007. On that day, Robbins said, he counted out $600 in $100 bills on camera before he handed it over to Wilburn, who was supposed to make another attempt at bribing Turner.

According to testimony, Wilburn did go to City Hall that day, met with Turner briefly outside the City Council chambers, but was interrupted by a Turner aide, disrupting the FBI's plans.

On the stand, Robbins also detailed the agreement between the FBI and Wilburn and described how the investigation of Turner and Wilkerson was conducted.

Robbins told jurors that Wilburn – who has suggested he may not testify against Turner – was paid just under $30,000 by the FBI. Included in that amount was $3,000 for relocation expenses.

It remained unclear this morning if Wilburn would take the stand or if he would appear in court today. Wilburn has told the Globe he does not want to testify, but has also said that he does not want to be imprisoned for contempt of court.

The trial before US District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock is ongoing.

Originally published on the blog MetroDesk.

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