Day 14 of the Gina Clark trial ended with the jury reaching no verdict after 2 hours of deliberation. Gina Clark and her now defunct charity, Touched by Angels (TBA), were indicted on 32 counts 2 years ago. The trial started April 8th. The prosecution, headed by Assistant Attorney General Steve Adams, called more than 40 witnesses, the last of whom finished testimony yesterday. Gina's defense attorney, Joan Fund, called no witnesses.
Both Adams and Fund gave their closing arguments today, each lasting about one-half hour. Ms. Fund began by thanking the jury for their service and reminding them of the “moral certainty” needed in order to find Ms. Clark guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Fund successfully defended Anthony “Little Ant” Russ 2 years ago against murder charges. A large amount of drugs and cash were recently found at Anthony Russ' residence on April 4th, 2013. Police had been tracking him for months.
Regarding the large number of indictments against Clark and TBA - 32 in all - Ms. Fund stated “why indict 10 ways from Sunday?” and said that the Attorney General did this for shock value, and that none of the indictments mean anything, because they are all based on “innuendo, assumptions, implications, and smoke and mirrors."
She stated that the alleged victim families all signed contracts stating the 80/20 split of proceeds and that TBA was a new organization which was still evolving when these contracts were signed. Fund asserted that a charity is not required to give any of the money it raises to anything, for example, when you give money to the Red Cross for hurricane relief, do you know what the Red Cross does with every single dollar? Does every single dollar go to directly help hurricane victims?
Fund said that Gina Clark founded Touched by Angels to help people and "help people it did." She stated that all the monies that the families received from TBA would not have been received if it were not for TBA. Fund argued that the evidence in the bank statements show a lot of cash deposited to Gina’s personal bank account during the period the alleged crimes took place has a plausible, legitimate explanation -- Gina's husband Chris Clark was a firefighter two days per week in Dedham (for which he got paid between $56,000 and $58,000 per year), but also worked as a plumber. Fund stated that many plumbers do a large amount of business in cash and this could have been the source of the cash deposits.
Fund pointed out that there was about $50,000 in cash deposited before TBA was even founded, and the source of this could have been Gina’s personal family income. TBA's co-founder, Dawn Hand, who testified on behalf of the prosecution, said that she and Gina each put $20,0000 into the organization.
Fund attempted to discredit witnesses by pointing out that Steven Ledwell, another witness for the prosecution who had worked for Gina, was getting paid by TBA while drawing SSDI income. Chris Niles, another witness, was fired from TBA for stealing. Becky Sousa, a former vice-president of TBA, contradicted Chris Niles' testimony.
Fund stated that the two biggest red flags in the Commonwealth's case are the large number of indictments and the emotional component brought to the case by having Crystal Manchuk’s mother and grandmother testify. Sure, Fund said, Gina may have “stretched the truth” a little when she said she comforted Crystal in her final moments, but maybe it was because she really wished she (Gina) had been comforting her (Crystal.)
Fund further addressed the issue of Gina allegedly lying to families by telling them she knew what it was like to lose a child because her three-year-old son had been killed by her husband backing over him in their driveway. Even if there is no evidence that this is true, Fund said, there is evidence that Gina had had a miscarriage during pregnancy. And if Gina stretched the truth on these occasions, how did she personally benefit from it? Fund wrapped up by saying the Commonwealth’s evidence will not show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Prosecution’s closing argument
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Adams opened by saying that Gina Clark is not on trial for being a bad businesswoman or for sloppy bookkeeping. She is on trial for knowingly and intentionally deceiving families, the public, and local businesses by building a relationship of trust through falsehoods.
Mentioning the names of several alleged victim families who testified that they initially didn't want TBA to do a fundraiser for them, Adams stated that Gina Clark and TBA hounded the families, in some cases, attending wakes, in order to get them to sign contracts to allow TBA to fundraise on their behalf.
Adams asserted that Clark made up stories about losing a child to make a connection with some families so that they would trust her. She promised that TBA would work all month on the family's behalf and it stated this clearly in the contracts. Business donors, including KON Limousines, Power House Gym, and the Plum Porch were told that their donations and in-kind services would help the families.
There were no disclaimers of any kind saying that the proceeds from raffles or donation tables would be excluded from the amount counted toward the total to be paid to the families. Adams pointed out that Gina’s expenses for her mortgage amounted to $81,000 per year. Her husband’s reported income is $56,000 per year and there were $93,815 in cash deposits to her personal bank accounts during the period when the alleged crimes occurred.
Adams recounted that a witness from the Massachusetts Lottery Commission stated that there was no permit issued or sought for any for the raffles TBA ran, which is a violation of the state law.
After being instructed by Judge Rufo, the jury deliberated for 2 hours and has not yet returned a verdict.
Author's note: I was not able to cover most of Gina Clark's trial because the defense put me on the witness list, and witnesses are not allowed to hear other witness testimony. I was not informed that I had been put on the witness list, nor was I called as a witness by the defense. People on the witness list are allowed to attend the closing arguments and subsequent proceedings in a trial.