Closing statements heard for man accused in cocaine and money laundering conspiracy

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Closing arguments were heard today in the federal trial of Robert Russell Spence, 39, of Coraopolis, who allegedly orchestrated a conspiracy involving over 2,000 kilograms of cocaine and millions in laundered money over a 10-year period from 2000 to 2010.

Prosecutor Ross Lenhardt encouraged the jury to think back on the “puzzle pieces” of evidence presented during the trial, and proclaimed that “just one piece” would be enough to prove Spence’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Spence, who is representing himself, is facing charges of conspiracy to possess and possession of five kilograms or more of cocaine, as well as conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

In his closing, Spence continued the onslaught of accusations against the government that has characterized his defense over the course of the trial, insisting that the prosecution had paid off witnesses and fabricated evidence, and going so far as to implicate investigators in various murders. Spence pleaded to the jury to not let the government “bully us into believing their lies,” and concluded by continually asserting his innocence.

In his rebuttal, Mr. Lenhardt attributed Spence’s accusations against the government to his alleged drug activities. “You have to be paranoid as a drug dealer or you won’t last long,” concluded Mr. Lenhardt.

The jury will begin deliberations Thursday.


Albert Anderson: aanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1454 First Published June 25, 2014 12:00 AM


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