Choice for jury in bribery case: dirty politicians or humble servants

By  Katie Campbell | Arizona Capitol Times

Sherry Pierce
Kelly Norton

The bribery trial of former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce and his wife Sherry Pierce is a clash of political paradigms.

It pits conflicting narratives of the greedy, corrupt political operatives out only for themselves versus the humble public servants seeking to do right by the people.

Related: Defense says Pinal utility bribery charges stem from sloppy FBI probe

The government’s opening statements in U.S. District Court in Phoenix today alleged the Pierces, strapped for cash, were willing to line the pockets of water utility owner George Johnson if it also meant lining their own.

“A scheme was devised and money was paid,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Galati. “It was that simple.”

Galati said the case is not about whether the Pierces are nice people or whether they have friends in high places – it’s about whether Gary Pierce’s actions on the Corporation Commission were “honestly taken or corruptly taken.”

The defense countered that the Pierces never would have put all they had worked so hard to accomplish on the line for little more than $30,000.

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