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Defense rests in Joe Bruno trial

Updated: 05/14/2014 6:42 PM
Created: 05/14/2014 12:44 PM WNYT.com
By: WNYT Staff

The defense has rested in the Joe Bruno trial – without the former Senate Majority Leader taking the stand.

Bruno accused of using his official position to help a businessman who was giving him money.

Wednesday morning, the jury heard from Heather Mowat who worked in the Senate Finance office under Joe Bruno.

Heather Mowat is an accountant and worked for the Senate from 2003 to 2009.

She was an internal advisor on gaming and racing issues. She spoke about Bruno's long-time support of horse-racing and his concern for the financially-strapped NYRA.

She and other staff kept writing memos warning about the fiscal problems.

Another witness was lobbyist and attorney James Featherstonaugh. He talked about the wide-ranging work of consultants – many of whom are not required to do written reports.

Senator Bruno is accused of using his official position to help advance the horse racing interest of businessman Jared Abbruzzese.

He paid Bruno $20,000 a month as a consultant.

The prosecution alleges that Bruno tried to help Abbruzzese’s interests in obtaining the racing franchise.

The defense is trying to show that Bruno’s actions with NYRA were only out of concern for the future of horse racing in the state and the larger economic impact on New Yorkers.

The former Senate Majority Leader is also accused of using his position as one of the most powerful men in the state, to steer state money into a company Abbruzzese invested in.

The defense has been trying to distance Bruno from the decision making process for state grants, while prosecutors also try to show that Abbruzzese paid Bruno $40,000 for a worthless horse as part of a scheme involving kickbacks and bribes.

Closing arguments are set to begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning.

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