Posted at: 07/18/2012 11:38 PM
By: Dan Levy
TROY - After three years, two trials, and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent trying the case, twelve jurors have declared former Troy Councilman Michael LoPorto NOT guilty of committing voter fraud. That was cause for a large celebration Wednesday night at LoPorto's downtown Troy restaurant.
Among the throng of well wishers who stopped by at LoPorto's Restaurant to congratulate him were four jurors -- three from his second trial that ended earlier Wednesday, and one from his first trial.
"For them to all come together and say, "Not guilty," I was just ecstatic," said a juror from LoPorto's first trial that ended in mistrial last March.
"It was just a gray area," the juror, who requested anonymity, continued. "How could I convict anybody on that? I don't care what nine (other) jurors (who stood ready to convict LoPorto) think. Nine people are probably rethinking their vote today."
Special prosecutor Trey Smith doesn't seem to be rethinking anything.
"I don't think there was anything that I did that caused me to lose this case," Smith told reporters outside the courtroom Wednesday afternoon.
Smith has already billed Rensselaer County $311,047 for LoPorto's first trial, in which Edward McDonough was a co-defendant. The county has paid Smith nearly $182,000 of that amount, with the remaining $129,000 being appealed to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court's Third Division.
Included in the $129,000 being appealed is $79,000 more for Smith (who has already pocketed $122,000), $31,000 more for Smith's assistant, and $17,900 more for a handwriting analysis expert who has already collected $57,000.
The bill for the second trial has not yet been submitted by Smith according to Chris Meyers, a spokesman for Rensselaer County.
"That's a lot of money, it makes me seem cheap," said Cheryl Coleman, LoPorto's attorney. "You have to ask yourself, by the time you get done with this, they're looking at two more trials. You're looking at probably a bill of $700,000. For what?"
"I think the figures are substantial," said Brian Premo, who will be representing co-defendant Edward McDonough when his re-trial begins later this year.
"I've been talking to many members of the public," Premo continued. "I know that during the first trial and prior to the first trial and subsequent to that trial the constant sentiment echoed to me clearly is that this is a monumental waste of taxpayer money."
Four defendants have already pled guilty in the Troy voter fraud case: former City Clerk William McInerny, former city Councilman John Brown, and political operatives Anthony Renna and Anthony DiFiglio.