NEW YORK - Opening statements were delivered today at the federal corruption and bribery trial of former Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi in Lower Manhattan.

The defense argued that the case is really about a loving relationship, and not bribery, after new emails allegedly exchanged between Annabi and her political mentor Zehy Jereis surfaced.

Jereis is accused of giving Annabi about $170,000 over the course of several years so he could sway her council vote on the Ridge Hill development off the New York State Thruway and also on another local project.

In a court document obtained by News 12 Westchester, federal Judge Colleen Mcmahon writes, in reference to the so-called love emails, that "in them Jereis explains that he has loved Annabi for the past five years and claims that he had given her certain gifts (which correspond to the payments described in the indictment) as manifestations of that love."

Annabi has denied ever having a romantic relationship with Jereis, who is also her distant cousin, and the judge ruled those emails could only be used as evidence if Jereis takes the witness stand himself and talks about them.

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The judge also denied another motion to delay the trial. Annabi's lawyer, William Aronwald, wanted more time to investigate an informant's claim that the star witness in the case, Anthony Mangone, was involved in possible insurance fraud in a fire at a Harrison restaurant.

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