A prosecutor who was likened to an Auschwitz guard by Evan Mecham's attorney blasted the comparison as a vicious tactic to conceal a poor defense of the ex-governor's failure to report a $350,000 campaign loan.
The criminal trial is expected to be sent to the jury Wednesday after prosecutor Barnett Lotstein completes his rebuttal statement and jurors are given instructions.Lotstein told the jurors Tuesday that Mecham's attorney gave a "laundry list of excuses" but no valid explanation why the former governor and his brother, Willard, failed to report the loan on financial reports required by the state.
Lotstein also bitterly criticized Mecham's defense lawyer, Michael Scott, for comparing him and co-prosecutor Michael Cudahy, both assistant attorneys general, to the guards at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp.
Earlier Tuesday, Scott contended that Attorney General Bob Corbin sought charges against the Mechams to boost his own political ambitions.
"Perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on my colleagues (Lotstein and Cudahy) because, like the guards at Auschwitz, they're just doing their job," Scott told the court.
Lotstein termed the statement a "vicious personal attack" and added, "It's not a new tactic. It's used when you don't have anything else to say."
Willard Mecham's lawyer, Joe Keilp, contended the prosecution had sought to prove its case "by innuendo, not evidence."
"How dare they try to sell you this shoddy merchandise and tell you it's the truth," Keilp said. "The only scheme to defraud in this case ... has been perpetrated by the prosecution in trying to get you to convict these men."
Cudahy told the Maricopa County Superior Court jury that Mecham desperately needed the loan from developer Barry Wolfson to keep his 1986 gubernatorial campaign afloat. However, he said Mecham felt he could not make the loan public because it would destroy his campaign theme of being "beholden to no one."