WASHINGTON -- In an unusual move lawyers for former PaineWebber Inc. Vice President Lance Wilson rested their case in his fraud and conspiracy trial yesterday without calling any witnesses to testify on his behalf.
In an interview, Wilson said none of the prosecution witnesses during 11 weeks of testimony before the U.S. District Court here alleged he did anything illegal, so his lawyers believed he had little to prove or gain by bringing in witnesses.
A prosecution team headed by independent counsel Arlin Adams has contended that Wilson took part in a conspiracy to illegally obtain Urban Development Action Grants from the Housing and Urban Development Department for a codefendant's housing projects through the use of bribes, illegal gratuities, and false bond financing commitment letters.
According to the prosecution's theory, Wilson's contribution to the conspiracy was primarily to write the commitment letters. Thus, the prosecution took pains to try to demonstrate that those letters were false and fraudulent because, according to witnesses, he never intended to honor the commitments.
However, PaineWebber officials testified that the letters were not legally binding and Wilson had the authority, as an investment banker whose job was to generate new business, to write them.
Next week the prosecution and defense are expected to present concluding arguments before the 18-member jury, which will then begin deliberations, Wilson said.
"I hope the verdict will bring a Merry Christmas," he said.