Judge 'terribly close' to nixing Sen. Farnese fraud trial

Written by The Associated Press | Jan 27, 2017 8:38 AM

State Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Philadelphia) -- A federal judge has told attorneys she's "terribly close" to dismissing fraud charges against a Philadelphia state Sen. Larry Farnese even before they go to a jury. says U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe offered that assessment Thursday.

Prosecutors contend Farnese used $6,000 in campaign money to bribe a Democratic ward committeewoman to help him become Philadelphia's eighth ward leader. He's charged with mail and wire fraud and other counts.

Farnese's lawyers say the payment, which the committeewoman used for her daughter's college study abroad program, was legal and amounted to "a public figure helping a constituent."

Farnese took office in 2009, succeeding two senators imprisoned for corruption.

Rufe agreed to let the trial play out a while longer before ruling. The defense opens its case Friday.

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