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James Hughes, 53, of Salem is on trial in Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood on charges of theft and fraudulent use of a credit card. JAMES A. KIMBLE/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT 

Jury deliberating case of Mass. man accused of gambling away woman's money

BRENTWOOD - A jury began deliberating Wednesday afternoon in the trial of a Dracut, Mass., man accused of stealing thousands of dollars from an elderly neighbor and gambling the money at Rockingham Park in Salem.James Hughes, 53, is charged with felony theft and unauthorized use of a credit card for withdrawing about $9,000 between March 9, 2009, and Jan. 16, 2010.Prosecutors say Hughes' theft totaled $48,000 between gambling venues in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Hughes allegedly used the woman's ATM card.The victim, Irene Sparrow-Meade, died on Dec. 5 at age 84, but prosecutors decided to go forward with the case without her testimony, relying on a niece from Auburn who testified about her interactions with Hughes.“We are not asking for favors, we are not asking you to do Irene favors,” assistant county attorney Jerome Blanchard told the jury during closing arguments. “We are asking you to do your jobs.”Public defender Anthony Naro argued that the state lacked the evidence it needed to prove Hughes committed theft. Naro maintained that Hughes had permission to use the card.(For more on this story, see Thursday's edition of the New Hampshire Union Leader.)

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