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Lawyers: Corruption Arrests Could Taint Jury Pool In Straw Donor Trial

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At their last appearance in court before the trial officially kicks off, defense lawyers for John Liu's former campaign treasurer and a campaign fundraiser on Tuesday raised concerns that the jury pool could be tainted over last week's heavily publicized corruption arrests. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

The corruption scandal shaking up Albany is trickling into another courtroom -- the federal fraud trial of John Liu's former campaign treasurer and a former fundraiser.

In letters to the court, attorneys for Oliver Pan and Jenny Hou say last week's corruption scandal could taint their jury pool.

They cite extensive press coverage and remarks made by the U.S. Attorney Bharara that "Political corruption in New York is indeed rampant."

At a court appearance on Tuesday, attorneys for both Hou and Pan would not discuss the letters on camera.

"I really can't comment about them," said Pan's attorney, Irwin Rochman.

"We look forward to the trial and we look forward to Jenny Hou being exonerated. Other than that we have nothing to say," said Hou's attorney, Gerald Lefcourt.

Pan and Hou are accused of concocting a straw donor scheme, or using fake donors to get over the limit campaign donations to the comptroller.

After more than a year, the trial is now set to start as the comptroller's mayoral campaign kicks into high gear.

Some of the delay was because Pan was involuntarily hospitalized due to a mental health condition. At court on Tuesday, his attorneys would not comment on his mental health.

"No, there is nothing I am going to speak to at all. He is here. He is ready to go to trial. We'll be here Monday morning to start the trial," Rochman said.

Before jury selection begins, Sharon Lee is expected to take the stand for the government. She is considered one of the comptroller's closest aides, often in the background at his events.

Lee has been given immunity and is expected to testify she offered to reimburse some family members for donations to the comptroller.

The judge has not determined whether her testimony will be admissible.

Liu has not been implicated in any wrongdoing and has challenged federal prosecutors to end their investigation into his campaign.

Attorneys expect the trial to last about two weeks. As for the comptroller, he says no matter what the verdict is his mayoral campaign is heading full steam ahead.

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