Longo defense: Mayor on call 24/7 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Longo defense: Mayor on call 24/7

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Testimony in the embezzlement trial of Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo began with the prosecution telling the jury the case is about accountability. Longo is accused of stealing $1,000 by using the fuel card for his city issued vehicle to fill up his personal vehicle.

Assistant District Attorney W. Crosby Parker used his opening argument to explain why the mayor is charged with a crime. He told the jury they should "hold the mayor not to a higher standard, but to the standard."

The indictment against Longo issued earlier this year accused him of making the illegal purchases between October 2008 and September 2009.

"He broke the law. It's about accountability pure and simple" Parker said.

Longo's defense attorney Don Rafferty painted a different picture for the jury, weaving stories about a Waveland boy who grew up to become mayor; a leader who is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week in his city.

"He didn't do what they're saying he did," Rafferty said in his opening statement to the jury.

Rafferty explained Longo drives his personal vehicle more than his city issue vehicle because it's better equipped for his physical needs. The attorney told the jury that Longo is handicapped from past knee and hip surgeries. While both vehicles are trucks, Rafferty said Longo's personal truck has step-up boards and handles making it easier for the mayor to get in and out, as well as electric seats that can be easily adjusted.

The prosecution called two witnesses Wednesday morning; an employee of Fleet Corps, which managed the city's Fuelman account, and city clerk Lisa Planchard. The prosecutor asked Planchard whether the city had any vehicles with similar features as Longo's personal truck. Planchard testified there was a city truck similar to Longo's but it is not the vehicle assigned to the mayor.

Testimony will continue after lunch. WLOX reporter Elizabeth Vowell is in court and will have the latest on WLOX News and wlox.com.

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