Denouement or Vindication?

Jurors in Symington's 12-week criminal trial hear closing arguments, begin deliberations

"He deceived them the same way that he's tried to deceive you during this trial," Schindler said.

Under Symington's methodology of determining wealth, one could value $2,000 in stocks at $200,000 because of a hope that the value will increase to that amount in the year 2004, Schindler said.

"You don't get to do that, and you would never in your wildest dreams think about doing that," Schindler said.

"But that's exactly what, cleared of all of these mirrors and smoke and histrionics and screaming and yelling, that's what Mr. Dowd and Mr. [Terry] Lynam and Mr. Symington want you to think is okay."

Schindler scoffed at Dowd's assertion that Symington's financial statements didn't matter to lenders. Schindler reminded jurors that every banker who testified said that the loans would not have been made without Symington's personal financial statements.

Furthermore, he said, Symington knew his financial statements were important. He asked jurors to review more than 70 pages of Symington's handwritten notes, including several in which Symington writes of his need to supply the statements to lenders.

Schindler also attacked Symington's pat excuse that the errors and omissions on the financial statements were simply "unintentional mistakes."

"When confronted with the documents that showed he was lying, what could he say?" Schindler asked.

The prosecutor urged the jury to be wary of Symington's effort to blame Coopers & Lybrand for the multitude of errors on his financial statements. Schindler presented sworn testimony Symington gave in May 1996 where Symington said Coopers & Lybrand's role was simply to review the "methodology" he used to prepare his statements, not to establish values.

Schindler undermined Symington's contention that he intended to hold his buildings for long periods to earn bonuses built into the partnership agreements if he sold the property for substantial profit. Once again, Schindler told the jury to examine Symington's notes, which show he wanted to sell most of his properties during the real estate downturn.

The notes are "really a rich source of evidence for you to look at to get inside of what Mr. Symington was thinking at the time and not what he was testifying to here in the trial," Schindler said.

Symington's trial testimony, Schindler said, was riddled with inconsistencies.

Symington repeatedly testified that he determined the value of his share in real estate projects by selecting a future value he "hoped" the project would attain. This methodology led Symington to claim his value in the Scottsdale Centre was $1 million when partnership records showed his stake was some $26,000.

Absurd as the notion is, Symington stuck to the future-value rationale throughout the trial, except in one notable instance. During his cross-examination, Schindler introduced Symington Company files that showed the amount of money Symington owed to Jerry Hirsch was increasing because unpaid interest was accruing to the principal.

The October 1987 Symington Company file projected that Symington would owe Hirsch $5.3 million when the note came due in 1997. But for years thereafter, Symington only showed $3.9 million due on his financial statements. Schindler reminded the jury that he had asked Symington why he placed the lower debt on his statement.

"And what did he say to us? His answer was, 'You know what, Mr. Schindler, it's just impossible to predict into the future. That's why I put down $3.9 million.'"

Schindler told the jurors Symington's acknowledgments undermined a central plank of his defense.

"Isn't it just convenient that when it comes to reporting your liabilities, like the Hirsch note negative amortization, it's just too hard to predict in the future? But, boy, when it comes time to doing your assets, well, you pick your date in the future and that's okay."

Which left only one remaining question. Why did Symington commit crimes?
Schindler offered two reasons. The first was money.
But, Schindler said, that is of secondary importance. The primary reason, Schindler told jurors, was Symington's appetite for prestige and power.

"Ladies and gentlemen, he parlayed that illusion of being a successful real estate developer into the job he holds today, governor.

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