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Opening statements were heard in Suffolk Superior Court Monday in the public corruption trial of former Massachusetts Treasurer Timothy Cahill.
After seating the jury of nine women and seven men, attorneys for both sides laid out their cases. Assistant Attorney General Jim O'Brien told jurors that Cahill and his former chief of staff, Scott Campbell, "reached into the pocket of the state lottery and took almost $2 million" to pay for lottery ads that Cahill hoped would benefit his 2010 campaign for governor.
Campbell is being tried with Cahill on similar charges.
O'Brien said in the first six months of Cahill's independent gubernatorial campaign he was "competitive and in the race." But, O'Brien said, by the summer of 2010 Cahill had dropped to a clear third place, behind incumbent Gov. Deval Patrick and Republican Charles Baker.
So, O'Brien said, Cahill tried to regain his footing by running ads touting the lottery, which is overseen by the state treasurer. And O'Brien accused the Cahill campaign of using the lottery's budget — state money — to pay for the ads. He said the 2010 ad campaign was the largest in lottery history, with 7,000 television and radio commercials.
In his opening statement, Cahill's attorney, Brad Bailey, told jurors to keep an open mind. "Our client had to wear two hats," he said, those of Treasurer Cahill and candidate Cahill.
Although a computer malfunction prevented Bailey from playing an ad in court, he said the ads never portrayed Cahill, and neither mentioned his name nor the treasurer's office.
Bailey told jurors to remember this question: "Is there any proof our client was doing something he was not supposed to be doing as treasurer?"
Bailey said Cahill ran the ads in response to negative ads about the lottery that were being paid for by the Republican Governors Association during the governor’s race.
Bailey said it was Cahill's duty as treasurer to defend the lottery, even if that meant raising inevitable questions about the ads and a possible connection to his gubernatorial campaign.
Testimony during this trial is expected to focus on emails and phone calls among the Cahill campaign, the state lottery, the treasurer's office and the advertising firm Hill Holiday. But Bailey told jurors they'll also hear from the only person who knows exactly why those ads ran: Cahill himself, when the former treasurer takes the stand.
The first witnesses will be called Tuesday, and the trial is expected to continue for at least four weeks.
This post was updated with the Morning Edition feature version.
This program aired on November 5, 2012.
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