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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Notes - Aug 3

- Only 7 “real” races at Saratoga today, since the first TWO were steeplechase races. And no 10th race to compensate as in the past! If I recall correctly, the same fate awaits me next Wednesday. You can be sure I’ll be studying the early double from Monmouth that day.

- The Lincoln Park bribery trial moved into the closing arguments today, as the defense rested on Tuesday. Two of the defendants, ex-Lincoln Park chief Daniel Bucci and the track itself did not even call witnesses. Ex-Wembley exec Nigel Potter testified in his own behalf, basically contending that he didn’t realize the intended payment was meant to be a bribe for House Speaker John Harwood. On cross-examination, the prosecution expressed disbelief at his contention that he didn’t know what the phrase “a wink is as good as a nod [not a nod from God in this case] to a blind man,” prominently marked on several faxes by Bucci, meant.

[Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee] Vilker asked: “Did you pick up the phone and say, `Dan, what are you trying to say?”

Potter said he did not.

Vilker asked Potter if he understood what a wink is. When Potter said that he did, Vilker asked if he understood a wink to be a gesture that people use to communicate something without having to articulate it.

Defense lawyers objected to the wording of that question, and it went unanswered. [Providence Journal]
Prosecutors pressed another defense witness on the issue of who the payment was really intended for – as a bonus for track general counsel Daniel MacKinnon as the defendants claim, or his partner, the Speaker of the House.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig N. Moore pointed to several faxes from the track's former general manager Daniel Bucci in which Bucci referred to the payments.

"It doesn't say Dan McKinnon," Moore said reading one fax.

"It says McKinnon & Harwood," replied the witness, Mark Elliott. Elliot is the current CEO and former chief financial officer of Wembley plc, at the time Lincoln Park's British parent company. [Providence Journal]
In the closing arguments today:
Calling the evidence "stunning" and "overwhelming," Moore urged jurors to convict all three defendants. "There is nothing complex or difficult about this case or the crime that was committed," he said.

Moore took jurors through a flurry of faxed messages in which Bucci and Potter discussed increased payments to McKinnon. Though they describe the money in writing as a performance bonus or a retainer, they actually meant it as a bribe, Moore said.

But Leonard O'Brien, Potter's lawyer, later said the government failed to prove that the money was a bribe to Harwood.

"Where is the evidence of that?" he asked. "Where is the proof beyond a reasonable doubt?" [Boston Globe]
- Richard Dutrow is back on the Saratoga grounds after his suspension, and he was asked if he took any role in the barn's operation while he was serving the suspension.
"I have to say no….The rules of me taking my suspension say you can't be involved in any part of the business. I have to leave it at that." [Albany Times-Union]
As they say, a wink is as good as a nod…..