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Prosecution rests in corruption trial of two San Diego councilmen

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The government rested its case Thursday against two San Diego city councilmen and a strip-club lobbyist accused of exchanging money for an attempt to reverse a law banning strippers and patrons from touching each other during performances.

In the prosecution's 22nd day of testimony, a city policeman who was working undercover with the FBI said Councilman Ralph Inzunza "followed instructions" given by the lobbyist during a September 2003 telephone conversation laying the groundwork for the law's repeal.

Inzunza and Councilman Michael Zucchet have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Former vice squad detective Russ Bristol had been pretending to take money from Malone's boss, Las Vegas strip club owner Michael Galardi. In return, Bristol sent tip-offs about impending raids at Cheetahs, Galardi's nude dance bar in San Diego. Galardi eventually hatched a scheme for Bristol go to city council saying the no-touch rule was a waste of police time.

Lobbyist Lance Malone spent nearly six months in mid-2003 trying to arrange the call between Bristol and Inzunza, who allegedly wanted to line up police support for the law's repeal before asking it to be put on the council's agenda.

"I believe he (Inzunza) knew I was assisting in this because he was following the instructions Lance Malone was giving us" regarding the scripting of the conversation, Bristol said under cross-examination.

Defense lawyers will open their case Friday with testimony about common practices in the relationships between lobbyists and legislators.

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