Two more witnesses take the stand in Bruno's second corruption trial

Posted at: 05/07/2014 12:29 PM
Updated at: 05/07/2014 6:47 PM
By: WNYT Staff

ALBANY - Wednesday marked day three of the Joe Bruno retrial in Federal Court in Albany. The prosecution had two witnesses on the stand today.

Most of the day was devoted to attorney and businessman Wayne Barr. He is an attorney and businessman whose companies paid Joe Bruno for work as a consultant – work that the prosecution says was really a “no show” job.

Barr was testifying under court order and with immunity. It was clear in court that he did not want to help the prosecution with its case.

Barr is the second witness in the prosecution’s case. He is an attorney who co-owned some of the companies that gave former State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno $20,000 a month for more than 17 months in 2004 and 2005. He testified he did not know what Bruno did for the money and that all that was handled by businessman Jared Abbruzzese.

Prosecutors say Bruno profited from a “no show” job in a bribery scheme, and then steered state money to a company in Troy called Evident, to Abbruzzese’s benefit.

Barr also said upon hearing NewsChannel 13 was looking into an Empire State Development grant to that company, Evident, at the time, his advice was “Ignore it. It can’t be good.”

Under cross examination, he testified that Senator Bruno was a supporter of technology companies and that Evident was in Bruno's district.

Barr testified that as then-Governor George Pataki had announced the grant 17 months before Bruno signed on as their consultant, they expected the money to come through and never thought they needed the senator to deliver the state money.

On Wednesday afternoon, Bruno thanked his supporters as he walked to lunch. “I have heard from hundreds of people, if not thousands, who believe that this is a travesty. I was found innocent twice; once by a Supreme Court decision, and the other time by the Second Circuit. To be talking about things that happened 10 to 12 years ago I think is pretty unfortunate.”

The next person to testify was Dr. Jerry Bilinski, whose testimony wrapped up by the end of the day. He is a longtime friend of Joe Bruno who joined Bruno and Abbruzzese in a horse partnership.

Prosecutors say this case is also about the sale of a worthless horse.

Abbruzzese is expected to be a key witness in this case.  He was in the courthouse on Wednesday, but has not yet testified.

Bruno's attorneys are under a gag order, but Bruno is not.  However, Judge Gary Sharpe did grant Bruno's request for a shorter court schedule because of health concerns, and the judge indicated that that could change if Bruno is seen as abusing that decision.