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Opening statements begin in bribery trial

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Lawyers have given opening statements in the bribery trial of two attorneys and a coal company executive accused of paying a lawmaker to oppose a pollution clean-up plan.

News outlets report that Assistant U.S. Attorney George Martin told jurors Tuesday that that the three worked together to pay the legislator $375,000 to oppose the expansion of an environmental cleanup site in north Birmingham.

Joel Gilbert, Steven McKinney and Drummond Co. vice president David Robertson are accused of bribing former state Rep. Oliver Robinson.

Robinson pleaded guilty last year.

The three defendants have maintained their innocence. Defense lawyers disputed the prosecution’s account in opening statements and said their clients did nothing wrong.

Robertson’s attorney called Robinson a liar who is trying to reduce his sentence for tax evasion by accusing others.

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