Here’s today’s lesson from the nonstop tutorial in indictment avoidance now being offered in an Albany federal courtroom where ex-state senate boss Joe Bruno is on trial for stealing his own honest services from his trusting constituents. The lesson is this: Don’t send those e-mails.
Executives from a pair of communications firms that retained Bruno as a paid consultant took the witness stand yesterday as prosecutors asked them about a series of e-mails they’d sent regarding Bruno’s payments.
As detailed in an excellent follow-the-dots piece by the Times’ Nicholas Confessore, there was this July, 2005 gem from one top exec at the Motient Corporation, which was doling out tens of thousands of dollars in monthly fees to Bruno, to another when confronted with a bill for the senator’s services: “I am drawing a complete blank.”
A follow up e-mail from a Motient VP read: “Do you know anything that Sen. Bruno does?”
He also had not a clue. So he forwarded it to Bruno’s horse-breeding partner and pal Jared Abbruzzese who had authorized the payments. Motient chief financial officer Chris Downie topped it with his own cyber-speak plea: “Need some help here pls.”
At some point, the clueless execs consulted with their Washington lobbyist on the theory that Bruno must be helping with issues with federal regulators. This too drew a blank.
“I have no idea,” responded the lobbyist. “Never ran across him.”
The e-mail lesson comes after a top senate attorney testified earlier this week about a memo in which he had instructed all members of the senate’s Republican caucus to be sure to walk their sworn statements of financial disclosure over to the Legislative Ethics Office rather than trust them to the mailman. The obvious reason? “There were, quite frankly, concerns with federal mail fraud statutes,” as the lawyer testified.
Hope everyone’s paying attention. There will be a test following the trial. Image via Joshing Politics.