Published on June 19th, 2013 | by Daniel Perlman0
Lawyer for Wealthy Rancher claims Entrapment in Bribery Case
In closing arguments at the bribery trial of James Barta, a wealthy rancher from Nebraska, and former Chicago Alderman Ambrosio Medrano, Attorney Joseph J. Duffy summed up the government’s case against Barta with one word, ‘Entrapment.’ Duffy went on to say, “From Day 1, James Barta was not predisposed to engage in criminal conduct.”
Medrano is accused of helping to set up a meeting between Barta and an undercover FBI agent in the hopes of steering business from the hospital system that the FBI agent said he represented, to the Nebraska-based prescription services provider Sav-Rx.
Barta is charged along with his longtime friend Gustavo Buenrostro and Medrano with passing a bribe to an undercover FBI agent in order to secure a contract for Barta’s company with Los Angeles County.
Prosecutors earlier argued that Barta freely joined the scheme, agreeing to allow Medrano and Buenrostro to set up a minority pass-through company as a way for Barta’s company to secure the contract. Barta was secretly recorded in meetings by the undercover agent, who was posing as a crooked medical purchasing agent for Los Angeles County.
But Duffy cast his client as an ‘American success story’ who built a business from scratch and wound up a reluctant partner who had to be ‘chased’ and ‘harassed’ by the undercover agent. Duffy pointed out that the agent called and emailed Barta numerous times without getting a response.
Barta, who was heard on secret recordings saying he was trying to help out his pal Buenrostro, eventually agreed to meet with the agent in June 2012 and wrote out a $6,500 check, providing the first alleged payoff for the contract, prosecutors contend.
Duffy questioned why a man paying a bribe would write a check that could be so easily traced, and suggested that Barta could have thought the agent was a legitimate broker who was helping his company compete for a contract.
But none of it would have happened if the government did not insist that Buenrostro bring Barta to a meeting, Duffy said.
‘He wrote a check,’ Duffy said. ‘He presumably succumbed, but it was (after) an amazing, relentless pursuit of a law-abiding citizen.’
Medrano also faces charges in a separate corruption scheme in which federal prosecutors accuse him and former Cook County commissioner, Joseph Moreno, of trying to accept kickbacks in a scheme to sell bandages to public hospitals, including Cook County’s Stroger Hospital. The two were also accused of accepting a $5,000 bribe to ensure construction of a waste transfer station in Cicero while he was on the community’s economic development panel.
Source: chicagotribune.com “Lawyer for Wealthy Rancher cites Entrapment in Bribery Case,” June 19, 2013.