Calling a defense witness “woefully inaccurate” Judge Janet Bond Arterton rejected testimony, which would have been damaging to the government’s corruption case against former Gov. John G. Rowland.
The former governor is on trial facing charges that he worked as a consultant for Lisa Wilson-Foley’s 2012 campaign, but arranged to keep his payment hidden from election regulators by entering a contract with Apple Rehab, a nursing home company owned by Wilson-Foley’s husband, Brian Foley.
Early in the trial, the government put Foley on the stand. Foley told the jury that Rowland’s contract with Apple’s corporate attorney was to cover his work on the political campaign.
But in a move that surprised prosecutors, Rowland’s lead attorney Reid Weingarten tried Tuesday to solicit new testimony from an Apple executive, which undermined Foley’s testimony.
With the jury recessed outside the courtroom, Brian Bedard told the court that even after he had pleaded guilty to related charges, Foley had told him there was never a secret deal with Rowland.
“He said I never made a deal with John Rowland to work with Lisa’s campaign. I never had a direct conversation. There was no ‘you work at Apple get paid and work for the campaign,” Bedard said Foley told him. “He said it over and over again, whenever we would meet if we talked about the case.”
Prosecutors heavily objected to the new testimony, which they said impeached Foley’s testimony and should have been offered by the defense when they cross-examined Foley.
Weingarten insisted he had only learned of the statements over the weekend when he talked to Bedard.
“I met with him on Sunday. That was the first time I laid eyes on the guy and he told me this story,” he said.
Weingarten insisted the court should allow the new testimony.
“What can be more relevant to this case?” he asked. “The one person they put on the stand to incriminate John Rowland, we now know told his CEO on more than one occasion, he never had a deal with John Rowland?”
But questioned by prosecutors, Bedard indicated he had spoken with another lawyer on Rowland’s defense team and told her that same thing as much as two weeks earlier.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Mattei accused the defense of withholding the information until late in the trial.
“They knew about it. Now they’re coming in after Foley has testified and ambushing us, basically on the last day of trial. They knew about it,” he said.
Arterton seemed to go back and forth as she considered allowing the testimony. When she eventually ruled against the defense, she said it was in large part due to Bedard’s unreliability as a witness.
Throughout his time on the stand Monday and Tuesday, Bedard showed a tendency to ramble, offering more information than what he was asked. His testimony about Foley’s statement on the deal with Rowland also seemed to change, even during the short period he was answering questions about it before Mattei and Weingarten.
“The problem is, I don’t know what he’s going to say. Even though I’ve heard what he’s going to say, it has many permutations,” Arterton told Weingarten.
“This is so unclear, so murky, so unpredictable. I don’t see why it should be permitted as i hear it evolve,” she said.
Rowland watched while the lawyers debated the issue with the judge. At times he shook his head as Mattei was speaking. Ultimately, Arterton said she would not allow the issue because it would mean having lawyers take the stand as witnesses to testify about when they first heard Bedard offer the testimony.
“He may be woefully inaccurate,” Arterton said, adding that she had no reason to doubt the lawyers on Rowland’s defense team.
“But there we are, it’s called a mess. And I’m not going to have it sort itself out with a witness whose statements, even in the proffer are, shall we say, in the alternative.”