I wrote the other day about the sharp memory that the prosecution witnesses in the Joe Bruno trial seem to have. And on Wednesday, Wayne Barr, a former NYRA board member and business partner of Jared Abbruzzese (and of Bruno in a breeding partnership), testified that he clearly remembered that he could not remember - and in fact, never really knew - exactly what it was that the former Senate Majority Leader actually did to earn those hundreds of thousands in consulting dollars from companies owned or controlled by Abbruzzese.
It was on Mr. Abbruzzese’s orders, according to testimony offered by witnesses on Wednesday, that Motient and TerreStar hired Mr. Bruno, granting him lucrative retainers worth thousands of dollars a month.The prosecution is attempting to tie the lucrative consulting gigs to the grants totaling $500,000 that Bruno secured for Abbruzzese's Evident Technologies, payments considered to be highly unusual in the case of for-profit companies as I detailed here at the time.
Mr. Abbruzzese also paid Mr. Bruno $100,000 through two other businesses he ran, Capital and Technology Advisors and Communication Technology Advisors, according to evidence and testimony.
Yet Mr. Abbruzzese’s partner, Wayne Barr Jr., could not describe what Mr. Bruno did for the companies. “I am not aware of it,” he testified.
His final contract, with TerreStar, began in July 2005. But officials there were unclear at the time about what Mr. Bruno’s duties would be.
“Do you know anything that Senator Bruno does?” Mr. Macklin wrote to Christopher W. Downie, a senior executive. Mr. Downie forwarded the e-mail message to Mr. Abbruzzese.
“Need some help here pls,” he wrote. [NY Times]
I suppose the fact that Abbruzzese later sought the NY racing franchise for Empire Racing is not relevant to this particular case. However, a horse that Bruno sold to Abbruzzese is.
The horse deal came into focus Wednesday when prosecutors called witnesses who testified that a horse Abbruzzese purchased from Bruno for $80,000 was practically worthless. Prosecutors allege Abbruzzese paid an inflated price to make up for Bruno's being terminated from the payroll of Motient Corp. in August 2005, two months into a six-month contract that could have netted him an additional $80,000. [Albany Times-Union]- The Queens Courier reports today that NYRA is apparently trying to bag the Aqueduct Flea Market....again. A couple of years ago, NYRA claimed that there was not enough parking to accommodate the market.
“There just won’t be room for it,” said Dan Silver, a NYRA spokesman. “It was a nice thing to have, but the importance of Video Lottery Terminals to New York racing and New York State as a whole dwarfs any money generated from the flea market.” [Queens Courier]Of course, that's easy for him to say; he's not struggling to make a living wage by peddling goods in a parking lot. Seems as if the local Community Board is not sympathetic to the flea market either, citing a counterfeit goods raid in 2004 (well, it is a flea market after all), and the clutter.
“Anyone who goes past Rockaway Boulevard after the market shuts down can see the absolute mess left there at the end of the day."Actually, the mess fits in rather well with the decrepit racing plant that sits behind it; not to mention the filthy netting that separates it from the adjacent Home Depot.
- Still no agreement on Governor Paterson's deficit reduction plan, and the governor today proposed that lawmakers are too scared to make the spending cuts necessary to address the fiscal crisis that threatens the state's ability to pay its bills next month. [Daily Politics] He singled out Senate Finance Committee Chairman Carl Kruger and his contention that the state could collect some $1.6 billion a year by collecting taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations.
I'm going far beyond the normal scope of this blog here, but feel compelled to point out the following. The other day, Elizabeth Benjamin linked to Richard Lipsky's Neighborhood Retail Alliance blog, where it was claimed that Kruger's stance was backed up by testimony in 2005 by Deputy Commissioner William Comiskey of the State Department of Taxation and Finance that the Indian retail outlets bought 47 million cartons of untaxed cigarettes in that year alone. Based on that figure, Lipsky did some math to claim that Kruger is right, and he proceeded to ridicule the governor and members of the press who blithely dismissed his contentions out of hand. However, Lipsky conveniently ignored testimony by Comiskey just last month (pdf), in which he noted that the sales have declined every year since then, and that the "final sales for 2009 will reflect a continued decline." Comiskey went on to note that the state could have collected $825 million, half of Kruger's claim, if every pack had been stamped and taxed. However, he went on to explain (on page 4 of the abovelinkedto document if you're interested) why the actual amount would be far, far less; under $100 million annually in fact. Sorry for the tangent, but just wanted to set the record straight.