Fraud trial begins for Fagen

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Prosecutors argued on Wednesday that between Jan. 1, 2010 and Sept. 19, 2010, Fagen collected unemployment insurance benefits that he was not eligible for, saying that he “knowingly defrauded” the Labor Department on 38 separate occasions.

During the opening statements, Jorgenson listed the witnesses they intend to call to testify against Fagen over the course of the trial, including Jeff Nogid, the city’s current comptroller, and officials from the Labor Department.

“You’re going to come to one fact and one fact only,” Jorgenson told the jury. “The inescapable fact that [Fagen] is guilty.”

Fagen’s attorney Marc Gann does not deny that Fagen received the unemployment payments. However, Gann argued that Fagen’s income was low enough for him to remain eligible to collect those benefits. He also argued that Fagen was “set up” by the previous Republican administration in an attempt to remove him from office and to keep him from talking about the city’s troubled finances.

“[Fagen] ran for council to make a difference in his community, to show the financial improprieties that were taking place,” said Gann.

In his opening statement, Gann said that Fagen committed no criminal wrongdoing, and that the case boiled down to a “political vendetta.”

“Politics is a dirty game, especially when you're not on the inside,” said Gann.

Gann characterized Fagen as a “family man” who is the “Ross Perot of Long Beach.”

Gann said that he intends to prove that former City Manager Charles Theofan and former Comptroller Sandra Clarson mislead Fagen to believe that he was reporting his finances accurately. Gann told the jury that neither Theofan nor Clarson would be called as witnesses by the prosecution.

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