NEW YORK — Imelda Marcos was "the driving force" behind fraudulent art and real estate transactions that were typically "done in the shadows . . . because she knew that what she was doing was wrong," Assistant U.S. Atty. Charles LaBella said Monday in his final arguments to jurors hearing the federal fraud and racketeering case against the former Philippine first lady.
Through nearly five hours of alternately passionate rhetoric and tedious recitation of evidence, LaBella also accused the widow of deposed dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos of orchestrating secret investment schemes with stolen public funds on such a grand scale that it finally staggered the Philippine economy.
Challenging defense assertions that Mrs. Marcos was "just a wife" who didn't know much about how her husband acquired the money she spent, the chief prosecutor scoffed that "of course she knew."
"She wasn't just an outside observer who had things happening around her that she didn't know about," LaBella argued. "Imelda Marcos was not in a glass tomb. . . . She was in the thick of things."
He said Mrs. Marcos had to know "dirty money" was involved because she knew how much money she and President Marcos earned, a very modest amount compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on real estate, jewelry and art.
Attorney Gerry Spence was scheduled to give closing arguments for Mrs. Marcos today. Arguments on behalf of co-defendant Adnan Khashoggi are scheduled Wednesday morning.