Reversing course from previous rulings, U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton allowed a defense witness Wednesday to testify about a conversation he had with Brian Foley, the government’s key witness in its case against former Gov. John G. Rowland.
Rowland declined to take the stand in his own defense after being reminded by the judge of his right to testify.
Meanwhile, Brian Bedard, the chief operating officer of a nursing home chain owned by Foley, testified Wednesday that he had a conversation with Foley at Foley’s home after Foley had pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor charge for his involvement in the scheme.
“Did there come a time after Mr. Foley pleaded guilty that he had a conversation with you?” Reid Weingarten, Rowland’s lead attorney, asked Bedard.
“Mr. Foley has told me that he never made a specific deal with Mr. Rowland,“ Bedard said. “There was no quid pro quo. He said I never made a deal with John.”
The government fought hard to keep the jury from hearing the testimony even though prosecutors said they don’t believe it’s inconsistent with the testimony given earlier in the trial by Foley. Arterton made Bedard, who had a tendency to stray during his testimony, keep his answers short.
Bedard, who was described Tuesday by Arterton as “woefully inaccurate,” was allowed to testify that during his conversation with Foley about the contract he used the word “sham” to describe it.
“Mr. Foley has used the word sham,” Bedard testified.
Foley testified the contract Apple Rehab had with Rowland was a sham to hide the fact that Foley was really paying him to work on his wife’s congressional campaign.
Outside the presence of the jury, Bedard, who previewed his testimony for the judge, said he asked his attorney to call the government and tell them, “I was embarrassed that he [Foley] lied to me. I trusted him and I was lied to. I’m not good with that at all.”
Bedard told the jury Wednesday that he doesn’t believe Foley’s wife, Lisa Wilson-Foley, should have ever run for office.
“I never took her candidacy seriously. I don’t think she should have run,” Bedard said.
He said business people don’t understand public service.
“They’re clapping ‘cause they’re employees. They’re not clapping because they like you,” Bedard who participated in a mock debate with Wilson-Foley in 2010, testified.
Bedard ended up being the only witness Rowland’s defense attorneys called during the trial. The defense rested their case Wednesday before 9:30 a.m.
The government briefly called two rebuttal witnesses Wednesday before court adjourned at 10:10 a.m. Arterton instructed the jury that closing arguments would be given Thursday morning before the jury is charged.
Arterton reminded Rowland again of his right to testify in his own defense. Rowland told the judge he understood and declined the offer to testify.