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Witness testimony begins in Bruno's 2nd trial

Updated: 05/06/2014 8:22 PM
Created: 05/06/2014 12:23 PM WNYT.com
By: WNYT Staff

ALBANY – The prosecution began presenting evidence Tuesday in its case in former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno's second fraud trial.

Bruno is being re-tried on fraud charges. He’s accused of profiting from a bribery scheme involving businessman Jared Abbruzzese.

Bruno was convicted of two counts of honest-services fraud in 2009.

That conviction was overturned because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling about the narrowness of that charge.

One witnesses testified for most of Tuesday. Patricia Stackrow worked for Senator Joe Bruno as his assistant for 24 years. She spent years managing Bruno’s time, meetings, and keeping financial records.

Prosecutors talked about checks for $20,000 that came every month for a period of more than 17 months in 2004 and 2005 from several of Abbruzzese’s companies, and agreements to retain Bruno as a consultant.

Stackrow, who described herself as a gatekeeper, testified she didn’t know what Bruno did for that money.

Prosecutors have said this case is about the quid pro quo of a bribery scheme, a “no show” job and the sale of a worthless horse.

They say Bruno collected $20,000 a month from Abbruzzese for doing nothing, and that state money then went to a technology company with which the businessman was involved.

There was testimony about Bruno’s horse partnership, his various trips, and bookkeeping.

Under cross-examination, Stackrow testified that Bruno never told her to hide anything, or not to do something attorneys told her to do, and that he never told her to keep Abbruzzese’s name quiet.

As he walked to lunch, Bruno said this whole process is very tiring.

“I’m still trying to figure out what is going on. I just can’t understand what is happening here. Because they just killed over two hours, and there’s no laws broken,” said Bruno.

The day ended with the beginning of the testimony of Wayne Barr. He is an attorney, Bruno’s appointee to the NYRA board, and a business partner in two companies that paid Bruno $20,000 for consulting work.  He is testifying under court order and with immunity which means that his testimony cannot be used against him in a criminal case.

Barr's testimony will continue first thing Wednesday morning before Judge Gary Sharpe.

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