INDIANAPOLIS -- The former president pro tempore and majority caucus leader of the Indiana Senate went on trial Tuesday on charges they accepted bribes to push railroad legislation through the legislature.
Phillip E. Gutman, of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Martin K. Edwards, of New Castle, Ind., allegedly accepted $53,000 from the Indiana Railroad Association in monthly payments begun in 1972 and $40,000 from the South Shore Railroad in 1975.
The money was given them to help pass a 1972 law that reduced the size of railroad crews and a 1975 law to establish a regional transportation authority.
In opening statements Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Darst told the jurors a trail of checks and letters shows lawyers Gutman and Edwards influenced legislation for money when they were senators.
Gutman was then president pro tempore of the Senate and Edwards was majority caucus leader. Edwards later was president pro tempore and still later was imprisoned for bribery committed when he held the top Senate post.
A third conspirator was the late Sen. James Gardner, R-Fowler, majority floor leader under Gutman, Darst said.
Gutman's lawyer, James Bradford, Indianapolis, verbally slammed railroad lobbyist Howard Odom, a co-defendant who struck a last-minute deal to turn prosecution witness.
'Mr. Odom is an alcoholic, a womanizer and a thief,' Bradford said. 'He flimflammed his employers -- stole 'em blind.'
Darst said Odom was 'placed under intense pressure by ... the three most powerful men in the Indiana Senate and has required psychiatric treatment.'
South Shore President Albert Dudley paid Gutman under protest, Darst said.
'Mr. Dudley virtually had no choice but to pay the bill if he did not want to suffer the consequences,' Darst said.
Darst said Edwards accepted the $1,000 monthly payments from the IRA and split themamong the trio, because he was IRA legal counsel and 'it would not be unusual to see his name on the records.'
Checks Odom had ordered destroyed were restored through bank microfilm, Darst said. He said Odom received kickbacks totaling at least $12,000.
The senators listed illegal payments as fees and retainers for law services, Darst said.