Zimmermann, a Green Party member, could face about five years in prison if convicted, said his attorney, Dan Scott. Zimmermann denies wrongdoing, saying he was raising money for a lawsuit to overturn the redistricting of his ward.
The article doesn't mention this charge:
The grand jury also alleged that in October 2004, Zimmermann received an email from the management of the Powderhorn Residents Group requesting Zimmermann’s signature on certificates of completion and release of forfeiture for the newly constructed Franklin Station Townhomes. Zimmermann allegedly responded by agreeing to do so but then asking the Residents Group to construct, at no charge, a retaining wall on the property of his former partner. When the Residents Group declined, Zimmermann then asked that the materials for the wall be given to him free of charge.
The article gives a preview of Zimmermann's defence:
"I was raising money for the redistricting lawsuit," Zimmermann said in an interview Thursday, explaining the cash he got from Carlson. "I was raising money for different groups. This was just one more. Not like it was a secret. I had the money. People knew it. [Carlson] came forward and said he wanted to help. He said he had maxed out on campaign contributions, so I said, 'Why don't you give to the redistricting lawsuit fund?' "
Was it in exchange for favors? "It's absurd," he said. "What did I do for him that I didn't do for dozens of others?"
The defense is expected to call witnesses who will make that point. Scott said evidence will show Zimmermann agreed to help Carlson before any discussion of money occurred.
Will it work?
"I feel confident, but with a jury, you never know," said Zimmermann, a self-employed handyman, who was doing repairs Thursday in the basement of a St. Paul house. "The FBI guys think it's a big status thing. They go out there to nab a politician."
The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment.