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Tom DeLay's money laundering trial to begin

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The trial will take place in Texas capital
  • DeLay has pleaded not guilty
  • Prosecutors allege he illegally sent money to help legislative candidates

(CNN) -- Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday in the trial of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who is charged with illegally funneling corporate money to help elect GOP candidates to the Texas legislature.

The Republican was indicted in 2005 on charges he illegally sent $190,000 in corporate money through the Republican National Committee to help elect GOP Texas legislative candidates in 2002.

DeLay, who resigned in 2006, has pleaded not guilty to money laundering and conspiracy. He has said the trial will clear him.

His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, told CNN in August that the case was "highly political" and should have been heard in DeLay's home county of Fort Bend. He said the case against his client began over congressional redistricting that gave Republicans control.

DeGuerin had wanted the trial moved to another jurisdiction, arguing that "heavily Democratic" Travis County has a "strong anti-Tom DeLay feeling."

But Senior Judge Pat Priest ruled in August that Delay will get a fair trial in Austin.

"He's finally going to get a trial. He's literally been begging for five years," said DeGuerin, adding the evidence "will show he [DeLay] didn't do anything."

Two other men facing charges in the case will be tried later.

Over the summer, DeLay said a separate, long-running federal criminal investigation of him had been closed with no charges. The Justice Department declined comment on the federal investigation.

DeLay was under investigation for his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials. Abramoff admitted defrauding Native American tribal clients of millions of dollars for help in gaining casino licenses.

DeLay said he had informed Abramoff that "our relationship is over" when he learned of Abramoff's plans for casinos aboard cruise ships. He also told reporters that during a visit to a casino on a Choctaw reservation he was disgusted when he saw a long line of baby carriages lined up while parents were gambling at 11:30 p.m.