Governor Deval Patrick today traded the State House for the courthouse, testifying during the federal corruption trial of Salvatore F. DiMasi that the former House speaker repeatedly pressed him for a computer software contract and that he told his staff he would support it "if we could do it within the rules."
Prosecutors allege that DiMasi and his codefendants instead got kickbacks for getting the contract approved. Patrick is not accused on any wrongdoing.
The governor also vividly recounted how DiMasi became visibly upset in 2008 and accused the administration of being a leak after the Globe began reporting about the suspect contract.
The governor said the speaker demanded that he issue a statement saying DiMasi had no interest in the contract. Patrick said he refused.
"I said we couldn’t do that, because it wasn’t accurate,” the governor told the jury.
Appearing confident as he adjusted his microphone, the Harvard-trained lawyer smoothly answered questions for about 70 minutes the first time by a sitting governor since William F. Weld also did so during a corruption case in 1995.
At that time, then-state Senator Henri Rauschenbach was accused of accepting illegal payments from an investment banker. He was subsequently acquitted.
DiMasi, his friend and accountant Richard Vitale, and Beacon Hill lobbyist Richard McDonough are accused of using the power of the speaker’s office to win $17.5 million worth of contracts for Canadian software maker Cognos in exchange for kickbacks. They have denied any wrongdoing.
A fourth codefendant, former Cognos salesman and vice president Joseph P. Lally Jr., has pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution in exchange for a reduced jail sentence.
The governor entered Courtroom 10 in the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse on Fan Pier about 11:38 a.m. He wrapped up about 12:50 p.m.
Under direct questioning by an assistant US attorney, Patrick quickly testified that DiMasi repeatedly asked him about a contract for performance-management software such as that made by Cognos, and that it was the focus of one discussion at the Four Seasons hotel about their respective legislative priorities. Patrick highlighted a life science bill he wanted; the Cognos contract was on DiMasi's priority list, the governor said.
"I told them if we could do it within the rules, then go ahead," Patrick said he told his staff about the contract after DiMasi's repeated queries.
He later said he would have at least asked the State Ethics Commission about the propriety of the deal had he known DiMasi was allegedly receiving money from Cognos. Prosecutors have labeled any such money kickbacks; the defense has suggested it was "referral fees."
Later, during cross-examination by William Cintolo, one of DiMasi's defense attorneys, Patrick conceded Cognos contributed to his inaugural committee but he said he did not approve the contract DiMasi sought because of that donation.
"Of course not," Patrick said.
When Cintolo asked if DiMasi ever used the term "Cognos" with him, specifying a vendor for the performance-management software they both supported, Patrick replied, "Not to my recollection."
And when Cintolo asked if DiMasi ever said to Patrick, "Do this for me and I will do life sciences for you," the governor replied, "No."
The governor sipped water from a cup, and sat with his hands prayer-like in front of his face, during one sidebar discussion by the attorneys. At another point, he drew an "awwww" from the courtroom as he revealed his email codename "Sally Reynolds" was a compilation of his late grandparents' first names.
Among those in the audience was Ben Clements, who was the governor's chief legal counsel during 2007, the time period for the events in question.
Earlier this week, Kirwan testified that she would not have signed a contract with Canadian software maker Cognos, and would have sought the advice of a lawyer, had she known DiMasi was allegedly receiving payments from the company.
Defense attorneys argued the comment was prejudicial and the jury should be instructed to ignore it, but the prosecution has said it pertained to the question of whether DiMasi denied the public his honest services, a legal question that arose in the trial of former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling.
Wolf ultimately denied the motion, saying DiMasi had a "duty to disclose" the payment, since it would have affected Kirwan's decision-making about propriety of the contract.
Under cross-examination, Kirwan said she was "aware of the interest" by DiMasi in the Cognos software but approved its purchase on the merits. Nonetheless, she said the speaker's direct outreach to her was unusual, and stopped as soon as the contract was approved.
The group of 16 jurors, including four alternates, were brought into the courtroom after the debate about the defense motion. Most took notes as the trial was underway. Kirwan completed her testimony after about 90 minutes.
In a sign of the governor's high station, US Marshals emptied the courtroom before the trial resumed so it could be swept by a bomb-sniffing dog. Marshals in tactical gear and toting semi-automatic rifles also were posted outside the courthouse.
Wolf gaveled court to session at 9:05 a.m. Patrick arrived shortly thereafter, apparently in his official SUV, which used a side entrance to the courthouse. He left the same way. He also eschewed the courthouse background for any media comment, instead scheduling an afternoon news conference back at the State House.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.