Defense Attorneys Say Businessman Made Mistake

CLEVELAND (AP) — Defense attorneys have told a jury in Cleveland that a telemarketing millionaire made a mistake but did not willingly break the law when he funneled campaign contributions to two prominent Republican politicians.

Seventy-two-year-old Ben Suarez is accused of using employees, relatives and others to donate $100,000 each to U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci’s (reh-NAY’-seez) 2012 congressional campaign and state Treasurer Josh Mandel’s (man-DEHLZ’) failed U.S. Senate bid.

Suarez attorneys argued Thursday the North Canton businessman would not have exposed his family members to criminal liability and that a former Suarez employee and the prosecutors’ star witness is innocent despite pleading guilty in exchange for a more lenient prison sentence.

The judge began reading instructions to the jury Thursday afternoon with deliberations expected to begin Friday.

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