Chuck Turner appeal starts

May 25, 2012
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Former City Councilor Chuck Turner, whose district included Egleston Square in Jamaica Plain, began the appeal of his 2010 conviction on charges of public corruption earlier this month.

Oral arguments for the federal case were heard on May 9 in district court.

“Given the quality of the brief prepared by [my attorneys,] I think the hearing should be a fascinating discussion of the application of federal law to my case,” Turner posted on supportchuckturner.com, his website.

Turner was convicted following a two-year saga that began in 2007 when he was indicted for taking a $1,000 bribe from FBI informant Ron Wilburn as part of a public corruption investigation that also netted former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson.

Turner was convicted on charges that he accepted the bribe in exchange for agreeing to help Wilburn obtain a liquor license, and that he lied to federal agents about it.

Turner’s appeal claims that the jury was wrongly instructed on the differences between bribes, extortion and gratuities, according to legal briefs.

Turner’s attorney, Charles Rankin, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment to the Gazette.

If the appeal is successful, “my lawyers say the most likely outcome is that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be told that they have to either retry me based on errors committed in the original trial or release me,” Turner posted online last month.

He continues to say that given that alternative, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz may decide that it is not worth it to proceed.

“It is also possible that the three judge appeal panel could dismiss the extortion conviction, which would be the best alternative,” Turner added.

If the appeal is unsuccessful, Turner expects to be released by November 2013. Three years of probation will follow his release. Turner posted that he expects a decision by late June or early July.

Turner also said, in a separate post, that had he not taken the stand in the 2010 trial, he likely would not have received a “guilty” verdict. Turner took the stand against legal advice.

“I tend to agree with the general opinion that the legal work [presented in the 2010 case] would have resulted in a not guilty decision if I had not felt compelled on principle to take the stand,” Turner posted in April.

Turner also wrote about prison life and recent politics.

“I not only am healthier but also am stronger on all levels–physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual–than when I left Boston,” he wrote. “This experience confirms the wisdom of our elders that adversity can be an ally or an enemy. The choice is ours.”

A longtime member of the left-wing Green-Rainbow Party, Turner also commented approvingly of the Occupy movement’s clash with the “1 percent.”

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