Unlike the five other Democratic politicians charged in the sting corruption case, State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown has held fast to saying she was targeted by state prosecutors solely because she is black.
The other Democrats eventually struck deals in which they either pleaded guilty or no contest to corruption - and were able to keep their pensions, and were spared possible prison terms. Those still in office had to resign.
But in pretrial motions unsealed this week, Brown's lawyers continue to contend she was the victim of racial targeting - and add a new wrinkle. They say the veteran legislator, a single woman, was entrapped by the undercover operative, a younger man, who romanced and flirted with her, and took advantage of her vulnerabilities.
The allegation of racial animus, a premise first aired by state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane as a reason for quietly shutting down a sting case she had inherited from her predecessors, faded after Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams prosecuted the first five defendants.
And in the last successful prosecution, the lawyer for State Rep. Louise Williams Bishop promised to pursue a vigorous defense alleging racial targeting - and ended up apologizing for ever bringing up the issue. Bishop then pleaded no contest and resigned.
In their own filings, city prosecutors have rejected Brown's arguments. They said other corrupt politicians - not race - led them to Brown. And they said that greed, not love, led her to pocket $4,000 in cash from undercover operative Tyron B. Ali.
In a pleading before a judge in Harrisburg, Brown's lawyer drew upon Kane's criticisms of the sting to argue that all charges should be thrown out against Brown.
Kane inherited the corruption investigation when she took office in 2013 but secretly shut it down without bringing any charges. After the Inquirer learned of her decision and asked her about it, she denounced the inquiry as legally flawed and possibly tainted by racial targeting.
Acting on a dare from Kane, Williams resurrected the probe and brought charges against the six defendants. The district attorney, who also is black, has rejected any suggestion that race played a role in the case.
Of the six, four pleaded guilty and one pleaded no contest. That has left Brown the only defendant still fighting the charges - and still serving in Harrisburg.
Patrick A. Casey, an attorney for Brown, has noted that a top aide to Kane had asserted that Claude Thomas, the attorney general's lead agent in the sting, had said at one point that he was told to go after only African Americans.
Another senior Kane aide said that FBI agents reported hearing a similar allegation from Ali, the registered lobbyist who went undercover for 19 months and recorded 113 surreptitious conversations to win lenient treatment in his own unrelated theft case.
In their rebuttal brief, made public this week, Assistant District Attorneys Mark Gilson and Brad Bender noted that both Thomas and Ali are minorities, and that both had testified before a Philadelphia grand jury and denied under oath any racial targeting. Thomas testified that the allegation was an "outright lie" that had "ruined lives."
Prosecutors also made public transcripts from tapes showing that Brown at one point rebuffed Ali when he tried to give her cash, saying she would prefer he paid her with a check.
But later, she switched course, saying, "I'm ready to get busy," and indicating that cash was acceptable.
In accepting the largest single payment - $2,000 in cash - Brown closed the door to her Harrisburg office, looked at the money, and declared: "Ooh, good looking! . . . Thank you twice."
Prosecutors also made public Brown's grand jury testimony, in which they said she admitted her guilt. In the testimony that prosecutors attached to their filing, Brown told jurors that Ali wanted something in return.
"Someone is not going to do this for nothing," she testified.
She also told jurors: "I am sorry. I never wanted to be in this position. . . . You can't survive up here if you don't raise the money. The pressure is too much. . . . But now that I look back, it was the wrong thing. It was wrong. I accept full responsibility for what I've done."
Her defense lawyer is seeking to bar prosecutors from using her grand jury testimony.
In the filing, Casey wrote that Ali, who is now 42, had preyed upon Brown, now 49, as "a younger attractive male leading on an older single woman." Ali is married.
Casey said Ali flirted with Brown, calling her "darling," complimenting her on her appearance, and sending her chocolates.
"At one point," Casey's filing notes, "the transcript indicates 'kisses.' "
Prosecutors said the wiretaps show "absolutely no trade of any romantic involvement" between the two.
Moreover, they noted, their recorded chatter was hardly the stuff of romance. It was, they said, mainly about politics.