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ABSCAM Trials: 1980 & 1981

Untrustworthy Witness

In closing arguments each defense attorney fell back on attacking Weinberg's credibility. Ben-Veniste hit the hardest: "Mel Weinberg makes J.R. Ewing look like Peter Pan." He was, said Ben-Veniste, the kind of man that if you shake hands with him, "you count your fingers afterward and then look for your watch."

It was a theme easily countered by Puccio. Myers, he argued, was the man who failed on standards of honesty. "Would a man like that hesitate for one second to lie on the witness stand to get off the hook?"

On August 30, 1980, all four defendants were found guilty. Their attempts to have the convictions overturned were rejected by Judge Pratt on July 24, 1981. In a 136-page decision, he said of the accused:

Their major defense has been that they were tricked into committing the crime on videotape. The government's need to unmask such conduct more than justifies the investigative techniques employed in these cases. Without question these convictions were reliable, and no constitutional right of any defendant has been infringed.

Sentencing was deferred until August 13, 1981, when Judge Pratt imposed jail sentences and heavy fines on each defendant. But before that, the judge had presided over yet another ABSCAM trial. Puccio was again the chief prosecutor, as the government this time sought to convict the biggest fish caught in their net.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980ABSCAM Trials: 1980 1981 - Four-way Conspiracy, Untrustworthy Witness, Influential Senator Charged, Warning From Bench, No Acquittals