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Inside Politics

Ex-Clinton aide's fate in jury's hands

Rosen denies wrongdoing in reporting cost of gala to FEC

Federal Election Commission
Crime, Law and Justice

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Jurors in the federal trial of David Rosen, former finance director of Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign, will begin deliberating his fate Thursday.

Rosen, 38, is accused of underreporting the costs of a star-studded gala on August 12, 2000, that raised money for Clinton's ultimately successful run for the open Senate seat from New York.

The event, which included a dinner and concert at a Los Angeles estate, was a tribute to her husband, outgoing President Bill Clinton.

Rosen faces two counts of making false and fraudulent statements to the Federal Election Commission for allegedly filing reports saying the event cost only about $400,000 when it really cost $1.2 million.

Prosecutors said the underreporting was designed to provide Hillary Clinton with more money for her campaign.

Sen. Clinton has not been accused of any wrongdoing in the case.

The trial began May 10 in U.S. District Court. If convicted, Rosen could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each count and a $250,000 fine.

Defense and prosecuting attorneys finished their closing arguments Wednesday. The jury was to convene Thursday at 8:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m. ET).

Rosen's attorney, Paul Sandler, described his client as "courageous and truthful," adding that Rosen "has suffered for years with this sword of Damocles over his head."

Prosecutors have repeatedly characterized Rosen as a "liar."

"This case is about the public's right to know who is giving what to political campaigns," argued prosecutor Dan Schwager.

Rosen has denied wrongdoing, contending other people were in charge of tracking and documenting costs for the affair.

The fund-raiser, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, generated only $57,000 in "hard money" that Clinton could use for direct advertising in her Senate race.

The $25,000-per-couple dinner and concert featured performances by Cher, Michael Bolton, Patti LaBelle and Melissa Etheridge.

The event also attracted actors such as Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, Shirley MacLaine, John Travolta and Goldie Hawn.

In a cross-examination of Rosen that began Tuesday, prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg questioned Rosen about event costs.

Among those, Zeidenberg said, were $200,000 to print invitations and glossy hardcover tribute books; $90,000 for private jets; $60,000 for lighting; $54,000 to build the stage; $48,000 for the sound system; $34,000 for the orchestra -- plus gift bags with multiple compact discs and concert chairs given away as souvenirs.

"I didn't inquire about any costs. If I did that, I wouldn't have had time to raise money," Rosen said.

Zeidenberg pressed him on whether "the production costs of this event had exceeded the budget that had been allotted."

Rosen replied that information he saw at the time indicated expenses were within the budget.

Rosen said he considers himself to be a "hands-on fund-raiser."

He blamed the problems on event organizers Peter Paul, a three-time convicted felon who underwrote the affair, and Paul's business partner, Aaron Tonken, who is serving a five-year prison sentence for fraud.

CNN's Chuck Conder contributed to this report.

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