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DiMasi Corruption Trial Set For Opening Statements

BOSTON — With 12 jurors and four alternates now in place, the federal trial of former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi turns to opening statements Thursday morning.

At a Wednesday hearing, there were some last-minute rulings and motions. Some of the hearing concerned what will be DiMasi’s defense against charges he used his influence to steer state contracts to Cognos Inc., a Burlington software company, in return for secret kickbacks.

Attorneys for three defendants argue that any payments made were legal.

And DiMasi’s lawyer wants the judge to instruct jurors about what constitutes an “official act,” as the criminal statute reads. DiMasi’s defense says there’s a difference between what one does while a speaker and what one does as the speaker.

His attorney asked the judge to instruct the jury that “it is not a violation to receive what [DiMasi] genuinely believed was a referral fee” from the software company.

The prosecution characterizes that so-called referral fee as a crime, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

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