MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Bayou La Batre Mayor Stan Wright was not present when the corruption trial involving him, his daughter Mary Cook and a city grant writer got underway.
Federal Judge Kristi Dubose said the trial, which stems from a land deal involving Hurricane Katrina Federal Emergency Management Agency money, is expected to last for three weeks.
Mary Wright Cook, walked away from the Federal courthouse in Mobile hours after opening statements began in her money laundering and conspiracy trail.
Prosecutors said Cook and Janey Galbraith conspired to cheat the federal government out of thousands of dollars and property.
Cook's attorney says his client was just doing what her father, Bayou La Batre Mayor Stan Wright, told her to.
"All she did was take the help she needed from her family. She didn't have anything to do with this," said Rich Alexander, Cook's attorney. "It was blind trust and love of her father. He would never put her in harm's way. Did she have knowledge, no."
Meanwhile, Stan Wright's trial has been postponed.
Federal prosecutors allege while the people of Bayou La Batre were in the midst of picking up the pieces following the devestation of Hurricane Katrina, the three defendants lined their pockets.
Federal authorities say Stan Wright gave his daughter a piece of land, with the purpose of selling it to the city of Bayou La Batre for $27,000.
The city bought the land using federal grant money from FEMA. Prosecutors called the land a "postage stamp" and said the city paid five times what it was worth.
Prosecutors also said Cook used $25,000 to pay off her debt from a divorce.
Janey Galbraith was the grant writer who secured the federal funding and gave her stamp of approval to city council members that the purchase was in compliance with federal guidelines. Prosecutors said Galbraith knew the rules well enough to bend and break then, and then cover them up.
Prosecutors said Galbraith kept a file labeled "snake", because if auditors ever found the file it would come back to bite her.
Her attorney insists she did nothing wrong.
"They cannot show that Janey Galbraith benefited a nickel that any money was misspent and federal auditors confirm that nothing was misspent," said Vince Kilborn, Galbraith's attorney.
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