Friday September 21, 2012

BOSTON (AP) -- Attor neys outlined their possible trial arguments during a hearing Thursday on whether the public corruption case against former state Treasurer Tim Cahill and two former aides should be dismissed.

All three have pleaded not guilty to ethics violations stemming from taxpayer-funded ads for the state lottery during Cahill’s unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Cahill was then treasurer, a position that oversees the lottery.

Cahill is charged with violating state ethics laws, procurement fraud and conspiracy to violate both laws. His former campaign manager, Scott Campbell, faces similar charges; Alfred Grazioso, the lottery’s former chief of staff, faces two obstruction of justice charges.

Attorneys for the three men questioned the vagueness of the state’s new ethics statute and argued during the hearing at Suffolk Superior Court that the charges were unparalleled.

"It is unprecedented to criminalize this type of behavior," Cahill attorney Jeffrey Denner said.

Brad Bailey, another attorney for Cahill, said the statute was "mushy" and "ambiguous."

Judge Christine Roach acknowledged the case is new territory for the state. The indictments are the first issued under the ethics law that Gov. Deval Patrick signed in 2009.

"The commonwealth is, it’s fair to say, plowing new ground here," said Roach, who also unsealed the case’s grand jury transcripts during Thursday’s hearing.

Roach has not yet decided whether to dismiss the charges.