Jurors now deliberating in former HISD Trustee Larry Marshall bribery trial

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Four weeks into the bribery trial of former HISD trustee Larry Marshall, the jury in the civil Federal Court began deliberating if Marshall, the long-time school board member and power broker, was involved in cronyism and contract-steering which lined his own pockets.

Lawyers have argued that Marshall would routinely meet with vendors for the Houston Independent School District -- vendors who would hire a good friend of Marshall, who then kicked back 75 percent of the consultant fee back to Marshall.

That consultant -- Joyce Moss Clay, who Marshall described as a "special friend" -- kept a tally that was shown in court that allegedly shows as much as 75 percent from vendors that Marshall had meetings with flowing to the trustee who served from 1997 to 2013.

The year before the lawsuit was filed, that kickback total came to $59,175, court exhibits show.

See that document here.

The plaintiff in this case -- construction firm the Gil Ramirez Group -- brought suit against Marshall and others, claiming they lost HISD business after refusing to pay consulting fees to Clay -- described in testimony as Marshall's 'bag lady.'

In closing arguments Tuesday, Marshall attorney Richard Morris argued that there was no evidence that Marshall was involved in bribery or contract steering,

"There is no evidence that Marshall was involved," Morris told the jury. He described Ramirez's argument as theories held together with "gum and bailing wire."

"There is no evidence that Larry Marshall interfered with procurement," Morris told the jury. "There is no evidence that Mr. Marshall harmed Mr. Ramirez's business."

Morris also called Ramirez's witnesses "largely irrelevant."

Ramirez attorney Chad Dunn argued that Marshall had a tremendous amount of influence over the board and could give special vendors contracts with Marshall's nod.

Dunn brought up evidence presented over the past four weeks.

"Did Marshall cause Ramirez harm?," Dunn said. "We think overwhelmingly it did."

Dunn also argued that this legal case went beyond Larry Marshall.

"Marshall unrelentlessly pressured officials in the district," he said, but said that Houston City Council members, Houston Community College trustees and Harris County elected officials were closely watching this case.

"They will want to know the message you send," Dunn told the jury. "This is a case that will effect the fabric of the entire community."

The Gil Ramirez Group is seeking up to $4 million in damages.

See ABC13's exclusive gavel to gavel coverage here.
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