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Attorneys for indicted Pennsylvania State Senator Raphael J. Musto are asking the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to review a recent ruling finding that he is healthy enough to stand trial on corruption charges, The Citizens Voice reports.
Musto, who is 83 and battling liver disease, claims that he is too sick to take the stand in his defense, and that the stress of a trial could kill him, according to The Associated Press. A prosecution expert disagrees with that assessment, while conceding that Musto is not healthy enough to help prepare his defense.
Last week, U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo denied Musto's request to dismiss the charges or indefinitely postpone his trial. Judge Caputo had already granted six trial delays due to Musto's health, the Scranton Times-Tribune reports.
In a memo, Judge Caputo wrote:
Measures are available to minimize the risks to Defendant's health in subjecting him to a trial, such as the presence of a nurse or other medical professional in or near the courtroom, appropriate rest breaks, etc. Although Defendant's physical condition is unlikely to improve, the fact that his liver disease appears to be stabilizing in light of the permanent character of his physical problems weighs against postponing his trial... Finally, the magnitude and seriousness of the case weighs against delay.
A federal grand jury indicted Musto in November 2010 for allegedly accepting thousands of dollars in cash and kickbacks from a company and an individual in exchange for helping them obtain grants and funding. In October, Musto was charged with additional counts for allegedly taking cash from a local official whose municipality he helped obtained state loans, the AP reports.
Musto's trial is set to begin November 26.