Lawyers for former House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi and two associates attacked the credibility of the star witness in DiMasi's corruption trial today, seeking to undermine Joseph P. Lally's story of a four-man conspiracy to win kickbacks from state contracts.
In cross-examining Lally, the attorneys highlighted his gambling debts and other legal problems, which they have suggested fueled his willingness to take a plea deal in which he agreed to cooperate with authorities and testify in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Thomas Drechsler, lawyer for lobbyist Richard W. McDonough, told the court that Lally had omitted $70,000 in gambling debt from his first application for a court-appointed lawyer.
ďOf all the people in this courtroom, youíre the only one who pled guilty to being a schemer, isnít that right?Ē Drechsler asked.
Drechsler at one point zeroed in on Lally with such theatrics that it brought laughter in the courtroom. Later, US District Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf asked the lawyer to "cool down.''
Answered Drechsler: "This is my style, judge.''
Martin G. Weinberg, who is representing Richard Vitale, a longtime friend and adviser to DiMasi, sought to portray Lally as a fraud, saying he earned more than $200,000 in consulting fees in 2007 and only reported $81,000 on his taxes.
The defense lawyers came out swinging against Lally a day after Lally testified of a bribery scheme he says he orchestrated with DiMasi, McDonough, and Vitale to help a Burlington software company win state contracts.
Lally's testimony Wednesday provided the most damaging testimony to date in DiMasiís public corruption trial, detailing a conspiracy over three years to use the power of the speakerís office to manipulate the legislative process in favor of the firm Cognos.
In his five-hour testimony, he put DiMasi at the center of the conspiracy, saying that DiMasi told him and one of the associates during a Fatherís Day golf outing in 2006 that ďIím only going to be speaker for so long, so itís important we make as much hay as possible.íí
Lally told jurors that he used the $2.8 million in commissions he received from Cognos to pay $300,000 to McDonough and $600,000 to Vitale. Both are longtime friends of DiMasi.
DiMasi, he testified Wednesday, was also receiving separate kickbacks from lobbying fees that Cognos was paying one of his law associates. Those payments, prosecutors said, totaled $65,000.
ďHe said letís make as much hay as possible, so thatís what I did,íí testified Lally.
DiMasi, a former state representative from the North End, maintains his innocence. From the onset of the trial, the defense lawyers have worked to attack Lallyís credibility, calling him a liar who name-dropped and brought about a false theory of a bribery scheme.
Under cross-examination on Wednesday, Lally acknowledged that he has lied to friends, co-workers, even family members and that he bragged about meetings with high-profile figures that never took place. He lied on his taxes, he said, and lied to his wife about the taxes.
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