New Orleans — Closing arguments in Gov. Edwin Edwards's federal racketeering trial began Monday with prosecutors trying to persuade jurors to convict the five defendants, who didn't present a case of their own. Defense lawyers surprised the courtoom Friday by resting their case without calling a single witness. Edwards, a skillful orator, has said he may deliver his own closing remarks.
Edwards, his brother Marion, and business associates Gus Mijalis, Ronald Falgout, and James Wyllie Jr. are charged with racketeering and fraud.
Prosecutors say the men used their political influence in an illegal scheme to obtain state certification of hospital and nursing home projects in which they held interests. Five projects were then sold for about $10 million.