In their final pitch to the jury, prosecutors in U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah's federal corruption trial on Tuesday labeled one of the region's longest-serving members of Congress a crook, a liar, and a thief.
But as Justice Department lawyer Eric Gibson turned to point an accusatory finger at the congressman, the scene encapsulated impressions that both sides sought to leave with the panel.
"The arrogance on display here is astounding," an animated Gibson declared. "In Fattah World, none of the rules that apply to anyone else have any application to the congressman, his family, or his codefendants."
Fattah - eyes locked with the prosecutor's - popped what appeared to be a cookie into his mouth and smiled.
The timing was coincidental, but the moment crystallized portraits painted through a month of testimony, 58 government witnesses, and more than 400 exhibits.
Prosecutors have portrayed Fattah as a presumptuous politician - an elected official who lived beyond his means, misused other people's money to cover his debts, and thought himself clever enough to hide his crimes without anyone catching on.
Fattah, with his stealthy snack, betrayed the same unconcerned coolness that has characterized him since his indictment last year. He has smirked and smiled his way through the government's allegations with a confidence that suggests he considers the case against him laughable.
And now, in deliberations that could begin as early as Wednesday, the jury of four men and eight women will decide whether the prosecution or defense version of events is more accurate.
On Tuesday, lawyers for three of Fattah's codefendants sought in closing arguments to distance their clients from the congressman's alleged misdeeds. They accused prosecutors of seeking convictions based on "guesswork, innuendo, and theory."
"The government again and again has misunderstood its own evidence, ignored evidence, or failed to get evidence they easily could have obtained," said Ann Flannery, lawyer for Karen Nicholas, former director of a now-defunct, Fattah-founded education nonprofit.
Bonnie Bowser, Fattah's campaign treasurer and chief of staff in his West Philadelphia office, is accused of falsifying finance reports and other documents to hide Fattah's alleged crimes, including money that prosecutors say he siphoned from his campaign coffers to pay his son's college debts.
Her lawyer, Ronald Levine, suggested that if any of those crimes occurred, his client had no idea they were happening. Bowser, he said, filled out those reports based on information provided by her boss.
"That's what this case boils down to: guilt by association," Levine said. "The government - as it pertains to Ms. Bowser - saw dots which did not exist and connected dots which were unrelated."
Lawyers for Nicholas and for Robert Brand, a Fattah family friend also charged in the case, argued that their clients had little connection to Fattah's political career.
But as prosecutors tell it, both played central roles in one of the case's primary allegations: Fattah's purported repayment of an illegal $1 million loan to his struggling 2007 mayoral campaign from then-Sallie Mae CEO Al Lord.
Justice Department lawyers say Brand and Nicholas allowed Fattah to use organizations they led to hide the theft of charitable donations and federal grant funds to pay back part of the debt.
Nicholas, director of the Fattah-founded nonprofit Educational Advancement Alliance, and Brand, head of a for-profit technology firm called Solutions for Progress, allegedly laundered the stolen funds through sham contracts to make the transactions look legitimate.
Speaking for Brand on Tuesday, lawyer Mira Baylson repeatedly pointed out that some work was done on many of the contracts prosecutors are now calling illegitimate.
"They admit that work was done. They just don't think it was enough," she said. "If work was done, then it is not a sham contract. They can't have it both ways."
When Lord called in the $600,000 remaining on the debt in 2008, prosecutors say, Nicholas, under Fattah's instruction, diverted to Brand's company funds meant to support students.
Brand then allegedly passed the money along to Thomas Lindenfeld, the Fattah campaign operative who staked his political consulting firm to take out the loan in the waning days of Fattah's mayoral campaign.
But Fattah, Nicholas, and Brand have decried a lack of documented evidence that any of them set out to commit fraud.
At that argument, Gibson, the prosecutor, balked.
"Why do [the Educational Advancement Alliance] and Solutions for Progress come charging to the rescue when Lord calls in the debt?" he asked. "There's only one answer to that question: Chaka Fattah."