The testimony phase of the Bruno trial fizzled to an anticlimax on Friday with the announcement that the former Senate Majority Leader will not take the stand in his own defense. “I’m satisfied that all that has been said, has been said."
“We did what we were supposed to and earned our pay. I’m a businessman who was in a part-time legislative position. I had a perfect right to do business based on my experience and background." [Troy Record]The defense testimony consisted of seven witness, and was seemingly all over and done with before one could say Jared Abbruzzese.
Most of the defense witnesses, who took up only a single afternoon of what has been a nearly three-week trial, were business partners and friends of the former senator, who collectively painted Mr. Bruno as an honest public servant and hardworking business executive who was eager to help others. [NY Times]You can read accounts of the defense testimony in the abovelinkedto articles in the Times and Troy Record among other places; but barely a word about it in the Albany Times Union; not even in their blog devoted entirely to the subject.
The paper has never been a friend of Bruno's as you may recall, and as the Senator was always quick to point out. You many remember its role in the Troopergate scandal. You can probably figure out where I stand on Bruno, but let's be honest here. The Times Union's coverage of the trial has, in my opinion, been blatantly one-sided; in one article, reporter Robert Gavin went so far as to debunk testimony favorable to the defense.
I don't know how favorable Abbruzzese's testimony, the most headline-worthy of which was regarding his beat-down at the hands of Donald Trump, will be for the prosecution. He testified that the reason why nobody knew what Bruno was doing to earn his money was because he wasn't hired to do anything in particular.
"I wanted him for his Rolodex," Abbruzzese said, though he rejected Bruno's initial request for $30,000 a month.The prosecution went to great lengths to establish that Bruno's duties were mysterious. But here, Abbruzzese gave the jury a simple reason to reasonably doubt that the arrangements were as sinister and improper as the prosecution suggested. He also pointed out that the grants to Evident were initiated three years before Bruno was hired (and he complained that the state did not fully meet its commitment to the firm).
The senator guided him on improving his skills in dealing with people, had no fixed consulting schedule and didn't produce any written work, he said. [WCBS-TV]
Better for the prosecution perhaps is the testimony from Bruno's former secretary that the Senator blithely conducted his personal business on government time. The Daily News reported on Nov 11 the following regarding Judge Gary Sharpe.
He blasted prosecutors for repeatedly suggesting potential quid pro quos when the case is really about whether Bruno mixed private business interests with public matters - and whether he failed to disclose his business interests.Ms. Stackrow would seem to have firmly established the former; and the prosecution did produce union officials who testified that Bruno did not disclose his ties to Wright. In fact, one witness testified that Bruno's employment status was changed from consultant to part-time employee so that he did not have to. One defense witness was reported to have testified that Bruno's employment with Wright was "common knowledge." Still, I don't see where the defense otherwise effectively countered these points, unless it did so in the cross-examinations and the Times Union didn't report it. Summations are Monday. As for a guess on the verdict, I really have no idea. Any legal eagles out there with an opinion?
- With Abbruzzese's appearance no doubt sparking (bad) memories of Empire Racing, on the same day (as duly noted by several commenters), Tom Precious reported that AEG, in an obvious attempt to sabotage its rival, has circulated emails showing that some former Empire officials, including its former CEO Jeff Perlee, stand to reap rewards should SL Green be awarded the racino prize at the Big A (Abbruzzese also amongst them according to a couple of readers). Such an arrangement was hinted at in the company's lawsuit filed against Delaware North earlier this year. As you very well may recall (especially if you've been hanging around this site for the past few years), Perlee directed Empire's cynically deceptive and negative campaign to win the racing franchise, conspiring to sell out New York's simulcast signal to Magna and Churchill, and, as this horseman pointed out, deceiving the New York horsemen (with help from duplicitous directors like West Point Thoroughbred president Terry Finley) into gaining its backing. If you were already queasy about the presence of the Seminole tribe on the SL Green team due to its brazen flouting of the law in Florida, the news that Perlee stands to make $100,000 if SL Green gets the nod should make you want to puke.