Suzanne Kreiter / Globe Staff
The former business partner of a key prosecution witness testified today that he had questioned the money they were giving to an associate of Salvatore F. DiMasi, suspecting that it was being funneled to the then-House speaker.
Bruce Major, a partner with former Cognos salesman Joseph Lally, said he and Lally engaged in an argument in early 2007 and that he asked about the $500,000 they were giving to DiMasi associate Richard Vitale for consulting services.
“I made mention of the fact that I assumed a portion of that payment would go to Mr. Dimasi,” Major testified in DiMasi’s public corruption trial. “Joe got really angry and yelled at me, and said I had no idea what was going on with the money, he had no idea what was going on with the money. He said he didn’t care.”
All along, according to prosecutors, DiMasi and Vitale were plotting to receive the money in exchange for helping Cognos win a multi-million-dollar contract with the state.
DiMasi, Vitale and lobbyist Richard McDonough face public corruption charges for allegedly manipulating the legislative process in favor of Cognos. They have denied any wrongdoing.
Lally, who formed a private company -- Montvale Solutions -- with Major to sell Cognos software, has pleaded guilty. He cooperated with authorities and testified of the alleged scheme, putting DiMasi at the center.
Major, a former accountant and professional hockey player, said he and Lally worked closely with Vitale to draft legislation allowing for the purchase of software in a way to ensure Cognos won the contract.
He said he and Lally agreed to pay McDonough a total of $300,000, Vitale a total of $600,000, for their help winning two contracts. He said Lally introduced him to the men.
“Joe really understood the lay of the land,” he said. “I trusted his judgment of what to pay in these situations.”
Major agreed under cross examination that he later found Lally to be a liar. He also acknowledged that he and Lally were planning to expand Montvale, and that Vitale was going to help with their business plan.
But they never did expand Montvale. Lally ended their business relationship in October 2007, two months after the state awarded the contract to Cognos and McDonough and Vitale were paid.
On Monday, Bethann Pepoli, the state’s former head of information technology, testified that Massachusetts did not need the type of software that DiMasi was pushing in 2006 and that she would not have recommended it if DiMasi had not pressed her to do so.
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