Attorneys defending the three remaining former government officials in a corruption trial in Nassau rested their case Thursday without calling any witnesses.
Closing arguments also began, a day after all charges were dismissed against a fourth defendant, former North Hempstead building commissioner David Wasserman, in connection with an alleged scheme to steer work to developer Ranjan Batheja in exchange for bribes.
Acting Supreme Court Judge Alan Honorof instructed the jury, which was not present during arguments seeking to dismiss the case or during his ruling, to not speculate about Wasserman's absence from the courtroom.
In his summation to the jury, Michael Rosen of Manhattan, the attorney for Patrick Williams, described Williams in February 2001, before the alleged conspiracy began, as a legislator in touch with his community's needs and a businessman who worked part time for a bank willing to become part of a redevelopment project in New Cassel.
Nassau prosecutors allege Williams collected $180,000 by falsely claiming to have exclusive rights to negotiate on behalf of the bank in question.
Indicted in July 2010 along with Wasserman, of Roslyn Heights, and Williams, of Uniondale, were former Legis. Roger Corbin and Neville Mullings, then executive director of the North Hempstead Community Development Agency, both of Westbury.
Rosen said he would ask the jury to disregard the entire testimony of Batheja, a key witness who pleaded guilty to bribery charges in the case in 2009 and has been cooperating with prosecutors. Rosen said Batheja, who admitted he had lied twice to the jury while under oath, raised "lying to an art form." Rosen said, "If you don't trust the messenger, you can't trust the message."
Williams is accused of giving out inside information before a request for proposals for the urban renewal project was made public, but Rosen said it was no secret the community wanted certain services such as a bank and a supermarket.
Closing arguments are expected to continue on Monday.