NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the stand Monday in the grand larceny trial of a former campaign operative accused of bilking the mayor out of more than $1 million.
WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell: Bloomberg Was Unflappable On The Stand
Bloomberg was able to avoid the press Monday after being driven through the prisoner’s entrance and given an elevator ride inside and a backdoor entrance to the courtroom, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.
CBS 2’s Ann Mercogliano reported that Bloomberg’s demeanor was testy at times and solemn at others as the defense team quizzed him on whether or not he kept tabs on his 2009 campaign contributions.
Bloomberg told the jury he “relied on information provided by his staff.” When he was asked if he personally relied on anything John Haggerty said, Bloomberg answered “no.”
Haggerty’s lawyers sought to show that the mayor violated campaign law by not reporting the money as a campaign expense. Juliet Papa of 1010 WINS reported that Bloomberg never lost his cool even as he said he was unfamiliar with “technical terms,” “campaign law distinctions” and “expenditures.”
1010 WINS’ Julie Papa With More On Bloomberg’s Testimony
Bloomberg testified that he never would have donated more than $1 million to the state Independence Party in 2009 if he had thought it wouldn’t be used on a poll-monitoring operation.
Political observers said they understand why the mayor isn’t happy to be part of the trial.
“He doesn’t want anything to dim the luster of whatever achievements he has managed to achieve in office,” Dr. David Birdsell, of Baruch College told Young.
Prosecutors say Haggerty convinced the mayor and his staff to pay for the poll-monitoring operation that never materialized. They say he instead spent nearly $800,000 to buy his childhood home in Forest Hills Gardens in Queens after his father died.
The billionaire mayor says he’s unhappy about the loss and that a lot of good could have been done with the money. Prosecutors have said that Haggerty exploited the good will and trust of Bloomberg and his campaign staff.
The defense has argued that prosecutors can’t prove that the money was stolen from Bloomberg because the mayor’s donation to the party could not legally be earmarked for a specific purpose.
Haggerty denies the charges. If convicted, Haggerty faces 25 years in prison for grand larceny and money laundering.
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