The federal fraud case against two of John Liu’s former campaign associates is now in the hands of the jury, but before that happened, the defense gave closing arguments Wednesday, saying the federal government was not after their clients, but after John Liu instead. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
The federal fraud trial of two campaign associates of John Liu may have nothing to do with them.
In closing arguments on Wednesday, attorneys for both Jenny Hou, Liu's former campaign treasurer, and Oliver Pan, a former fundraiser, said this case was really about prosecutors' obsession with pursuing a case against John Liu.
Oliver Pan and Jenny Hou were merely collateral damage.
"We said it all in court. We look forward to the jury exonerating Jenny," said Gerald Lefcourt, Hou's attorney. "It's been a long, tough year, and so we're hopeful it ends soon."
Pan and Hou are charged with conspiracy and attempted wire fraud. Prosecutors claim they created a straw donor scheme to get over-the-limit campaign donations and public matching funds to the comptroller.
Prosecutors say the use of straw donors, people who donate to a campaign using someone else's cash, was a Liu campaign strategy.
Hou's attorney says she knew nothing about it.
"I am glad it's over. Thank you," Hou said Wednesday.
This trial is part of a three-year investigation into the Liu campaign, and it's cast a shadow over his candidacy for mayor.
It was spearheaded by an undercover FBI agent, who secretly recorded hours of meetings with Pan, getting an insider's look at the Liu campaign.
Posing as a businessman from Texas, the agent and Pan worked together to get a large illegal campaign donation through straw donors to Liu.
It was all caught on tape at an August 2011 fundraiser.
In closing arguments on Wednesday, Pan's attorney argued that he was lured by the agent, saying the scheme would have never happened if he hadn't been wined and dined by the FBI.
It was a sentiment, they said, that was apparent in a phone conversation between Pan and the undercover in 2011.
"To tell you the truth, myself is not too comfortable either," Pan is heard saying in the phone call. "If it weren't for you, I wouldn't do it."
After hours of closing arguments, the jury was handed the case late Wednesday. They chose a foreman and decided to continue deliberations on Thursday.