Trash Man Trial Goes To Jury

Closing arguments "incredible"

If nothing else, former Streets and San Commissioner Al Sanchez certainly got his money's worth from his lawyer, Thomas Breen.

Breen's impassioned closing argument on Wednesday - described as an "incredible" performance by Chicago Tonight correspondent Elizabeth Brackett last night - was certainly clever and effective. With the case now in the hands of the jury, we'll see if Breen was able to overwhelm the government's evidence with his carefully embroidered tale of Sanchez's heroic life - for which Breen said his client deseerved a "civic award" - combined with a portrait of his client as a Daley administration chump whose expertise and authority was limited to "Snow. Garbage. Rats. That's it."

That defense might be plausible for a low- or even mid-level worker, but Sanchez was the commissioner of the largest department in the nation's third largest city - a job traditionally held by someone trusted implicitly by the mayor. Simpletons need not apply.

According to Breen, however, Sanchez was a "poor jerk" who operated within a system in place long before he got there and, thus, was "used" by political powers above him. Breen didn't spell out D-A-L-E-Y but he might as well have. The jury might even by it, having likely heard of Daley before.

Prosecutors stuck to the estimable evidence, including a clout list of job candidates backed by Sanchez who were hired by the city.

Even if you truly are empowering Hispanics rather than leveraging political power - a notion that draws snickers from hardened political observers -  it's hard to square that with saying you weren't involved in hiring at all.

"Al Sanchez had juice," prosecutor Manish Shah told the jury. "Al Sanchez had steam."

Jury deliberations are expected to begin today.

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