Key witness takes the stand in Day 4 of Bruno's retrial

Posted at: 05/08/2014 12:43 PM
Updated at: 05/08/2014 6:46 PM
By: WNYT Staff

Thursday marked day four of the Joe Bruno corruption trial.

Jurors heard testimony from perhaps the most significant witness.

Businessman Jared Abbruzzese took the stand. He's the man prosecutors say was sending Bruno $20,000 checks for a “no show” job.

Abbruzzese is a key witness in this case. He was the one who brought Bruno on as a consultant, paying him a total of $360,000.  He invested in a company that got state money. Prosecutors say those two things are connected in a bribery scheme.

Abbruzzese is a businessman, once of Loudonville, now living in Florida. His various companies paid former State Senate Majority leader Joe Bruno $20,000 a month as a consultant for almost 18 months starting in 2004.

Prosecutors say it was a “no show job” that was part of a bribery scheme and that Bruno facilitated getting state money to a company, Evident, which Abbruzzese invested in.

Abbruzzese said Evident was no big deal to him and that he had struck a deal with state funding with then-Governor George Pataki, not Bruno.  He testified that Bruno had approached him about signing on as a consultant years later.

He said Evident was desperately trying to get all the promised funding after a beginning installment.

The prosecution pointed to staff correspondence questioning what Bruno was doing for the company. There was no written work. Abbruzzese says he did not ask for or expect any, but wanted introductions, meetings and help in various fields.

As Bruno walked to lunch on Thursday, someone shouted “We love you, Joe!”.

“Honest and truly I was at a place last night and people got up and gave me a standing ovation. They were there for a birthday party. It makes me feel really good. There’s no question about it. Bear in mind this is 10, 12 years they’re talking about there. I was declared innocent twice,” Bruno told reporters.

The defense started its cross examination of Abbruzzese just before 4 p.m. Court ended a half-hour later.

Abbruzzese will be back on the witness stand first thing Friday morning.