Defense attorney Mark Rush skipped from point to point early yesterday as he tried to address various issues raised recently by prosecutors in the federal fraud trial of Dr. Cyril H. Wecht.
By afternoon, he had focused on a narrow topic: tallying the cost of two dozen faxes sent from the Allegheny County coroner's office -- transmissions that form the basis for a large chunk of the government's case.
Prosecutors contend that the faxes were sent in a scheme to systematically defraud Dr. Wecht's private clients and use county resources to enrich the former coroner's multimillion-dollar consulting business.
The grand total of the cost to county taxpayers was roughly $3.96, according to phone records and estimates by Mr. Rush.
While Dr. Wecht's defense team contends that their client is guilty of nothing more than billing errors -- and for paltry amounts at that -- the government has accused the forensic pathologist of a costly scheme to defraud clients by falsely jacking up invoices for airfares and fabricating fees for limousine rides that never took place.