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Rep. McDade Acquitted Of Bribery, Racketeering

PHILADEPHIA (AllPolitics, Aug. 1) -- An eight-year ordeal came to an end for Rep. Joseph M. McDade (R-Pa.) after a jury acquitted him of bribery and racketeering charges.

Jurors said the government couldn't prove its case that the popular 17-term congressman had taken $100,000 worth of gifts and in return steered $53.8 million in Navy contracts to defense contractors. Prosecutors also accused him of taking fake campaign contributions, travel and free vacations.

But jurors apparently believed staff aides for McDade who testified that if gift disclosure laws had been violated, it was their fault. McDade, they said, didn't handle such details.

Defense attorney Sal Cognetti plans to ask Congress to investigate what he called the Justice Department's "improper motives" in launching the case, which was initiated under President George Bush. McDade described the investigation as "Chinese water torture."

"I don't know what (the case) was motivated by," he told The Associated Press. "It wasn't motivated by the evidence nor was it motivated by any criminal acts by Joseph McDade."

The trial lasted six weeks, and after deliberating for about 11 hours, the jury informed U.S. District Judge Robert S. Gawthrop III they were deadlocked, unable to reach a verdict. Gawthrop asked them to work some more and within an hour they returned with an acquittal of all five counts.

McDade, 64, has paid a heavy price. Hospitalized twice during the trial, he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Had he not been indicted, he likely would have been appointed chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a post he may yet secure if he wins re-election.

Related Story:

Jury Selection Begins In McDade Trial -- June 10, 1996
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