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Former Senator's Fate Now in Jury's Hands

Feb. 27, 2007 — Alicia Hansen's attorney gave his closing argument in District Court on Tuesday, asking jurors to find the former senator innocent of conflict-of-interest charges. The jury began deliberations soon after and had not returned by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Attorney George Hodge said prosecutors were asking jurors to "wear blinders" and ignore facts that counter the corruption charges against Hansen.
In 2001 and 2002, Hansen arranged a $25,000 payment to Global Resources Management for consulting work the startup company did on amendments to a bill creating a technology park in St. Croix.
Prosecutors allege Hansen did so because the company's founder, Ashley Andrews, was her friend and that Hansen's husband, Esdel Hansen, worked for GRM and that cash to the company directly benefited the former senator.
Hansen also received a $1,000 campaign contribution as an illegal "thank-you" for the work, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Murphy.
Hodge told jurors Tuesday that Esdel Hansen was never paid by GRM and thus did not benefit from the contract with the Legislature. "Look at all the checks and see that not a single check went to Esdel Hansen," Hodge said. "There was no money paid to Esdel Hansen for anything."
Hodge also said there was nothing wrong with the $1,000 check GRM gave Alicia Hansen, the maximum legal amount for a campaign contribution.
"There is no indication she acted in bad faith when she got the check," Hodge said. "She got nothing more than what the law allowed."
During closing arguments Monday, Murphy characterized Hansen as caught in a web of lies, continually changing her story. "Oh what an evil web we weave when first we take to deceive," he repeated several times.
Hodge countered Murphy's statement by saying Hansen was only trying to pay people for work they had done. "This whole thing has nothing to do with a spider spinning a web. It has to do with our culture and values, to pay people for their work," Hodge said.
"The government's case is built on a very narrow concept. It's what we West Indians call 'bad mindedness,'" he said, claiming inconsistencies in billing dates and description of the scope of work GRM was to do were mere "errors and mistakes."
"All I can do is ask you to think for yourself," Hodge told jurors.
Murphy, rebutting Hodge's statements, said the work on the bill was done, but not by Ashley Andrews and not for Hansen, but for another senator.
"This was her going back and finding some excuse to pay Ashley Andrews, her friend, $25,000," Murphy said.
Andrews and GRM accountant Campbell Malone were convicted last year on conspiracy and other charges for using government connections to get a no-bid $3.6 million sewer repair contract from then-Gov. Charles Turnbull. Turnbull never paid GRM, but one of his former aides, Ohanio Harris, pleaded guilty to corruption charges in the matter.
It was not clear when the jury might return with a verdict.
If convicted, Hansen could be sentenced to between one and five years.
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