We’re almost done with opening arguments in the federal corruption trial for City Councilman Jack Kelly’s former chief of staff and three political allies. A couple of themes are emerging from the defense. One – This all started when the FBI showed up at Jack Kelly’s house one morning and said they were investigating him. And two – Kelly’s chief of staff, Chris Wright, is an alcoholic who relapsed after rehab while going through a divorce and had friends who tried to help him with money and a place to live.
Those friends? Andy Teitelman, Kelly’s campaign treasurer and real estate developers Hardeep and Ravinder Chawla, brothers who have supported Kelly with campaign contributions.
“You’ll hear evidence that Councilman Kelly was a deer in the headlights,” Teitelman’s attorney, Bill DeStefano told the jury when explaining why Kelly secretly recorded conversations for federal investigators with Wright and Ravinder Chawla. “He didn’t think his chief of staff did anything wrong.”
Lisa Mathewson, Wright’s attorney, said there was “surprisingly little” disagreement between the defense and the prosecution on what happened. She said a rent-free apartment Wright received near Rittenhouse Square, worth more than $15,000 according to prosecutors, was an uninhabitable dump and merely a “crash pad” set up by his friends to keep him off the road while drunk.
“Ask yourself: Is this where you would put someone you are trying to bribe?” Mathewson said. “Was it to grease him or was it a place that his friend wanted him to have as a crash pad so that he didn’t drink and drive?”