Ex-senator admits taking cash; case nears jury

A former Tennessee legislator charged with extortion took the stand in his own defense today in Memphis and acknowledged he had accepted $2,500 in cash.

However, former state Senator Roscoe Dixon of Memphis insisted it was not a payoff. Late this afternoon, the judge began charging the jury. Deliberations will begin tomorrow.

Dixon testified that he had supported legislation for E-Cycle Management, a bogus company set up by the FBI, as a favor to friends and not for money.

The defense, which had subpoenaed Senate Speaker John Wilder and other lawmakers, rested today after calling Dixon as its only witness.

Dixon, a Democratic state lawmaker for 22 years, is one of five sitting or former state lawmakers arrested in 2005 in an investigation the government called Tennessee Waltz. He is the first to go to trial.

Republican Chris Newton of Cleveland has pleaded guilty, resigned his state House seat and is serving a one-year prison term.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)