Prosecutor says senator took bribes before; defense cites setup

Prosecutors Wednesday called Roscoe Dixon a "wily character" who was paranoid about getting caught and they laid out an investigation that began long before Tennessee Waltz. Meanwhile, defense attorneys launched a resounding "entrapment" defense, calling the sting, a "scam."

Dixon watched, as jurors did, the first evidence presented by prosecutors, showing him meeting with convicted bagman Barry Myers and undercover informant Tim Willis. Prosecutors say Dixon had arranged for Myers to handle all transactions and nervously tried to avoid getting his hands dirty.

They said the Tennessee Waltz sting was hatched after they recorded Dixon and Myers offering to get a local agency, the Children's Dental Clinic credentialed for TennCare in exchange for money. Audio and video tapes feature Myers and Willis talking about payments, counting money and throwing around the names of elected officials including Dixon, state senator Kathryn Bowers and House speaker pro tem Lois Deberry.

"I'm trying to concentrate on the defense side," said Coleman Garrett, Dixon's Attorney. "Prosecutors do his job, and I'll do mine, to the best of my ability."

Dixon's attorney launched a vigorous entrapment defense, saying the government induced Dixon to commit crimes he was NOT predisposed to commit and that the sting was a "scam" run by "witnesses who are a pack of con-men trying to save their own hides from going to jail."

Dixon, still upbeat outside court, was silent about the first day of debate, offering no comment to media outside the Federal Building.

Most of the undercover video of Dixon was recorded in his own Memphis office.

Prosecutors spent a lot of time today describing bagman Barry Myers as the vehicle for this conspiracy, as they're calling it. Rather than take any money for himself, Dixon, they said, would regularly tell people to "take care of Barry..." and then Barry would, they said, take care of Roscoe.