In what could be a pivotal development in the corruption case involving former Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi, a federal judge Tuesday weighs a plea deal between prosecutors and one of DiMasi's co-defendants, salesman Joseph Lally.
Under the deal announced Monday, Lally would plead guilty to conspiring to arrange payments to DiMasi in exchange for DiMasi's support for two multi-million dollar state contracts with the software firm Cognos.
Prosecutors say if Lally gives them "substantial assistance," they will recommend a jail term of no more than three years.
David Frank, a reporter for Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, said the move is significant for the prosecution but does not mean the end for DiMasi and the other defendants going to trial.
"It’s certainly an important piece of their case but it’s not the be all, end all,” Frank told Morning Edition's Bob Oakes on Tuesday. "[The defense] certainly will be able to cross-examine Lally on all the reasons for his testimony and they can try to expose the bias and ultimately persuade the jury that his testimony should not be believed."
According to Frank, less than 3 percent of the criminal defendants who are charged in federal court go to trial. The vast majority arrange plea deals and admit guilt prior to trial.
This program aired on March 8, 2011.