Strateco President Chad Tucker testified Friday afternoon about multiple invoices from 2014 and a verbal contract he had with Mobile Commissioner Kim Hastie.
During the fourth day of Hastie’s corruption trial, Tucker told Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Bordenkircher that he had a verbal contract for a $2,500 retainer with the license commissioner, beginning in February of 2014.
Tucker also testified that the public relations and marketing work he did for Hastie was, “by definition” political and was related to campaigning for a bill to combine both the license commission and revenue commission offices.
Tucker also testified he helped Hastie with a strategy to run for the position of revenue commissioner.
As evidence, Bordenkircher presented several invoices Strateco sent to Hastie’s office. Tucker also admitted during direct that Hastie had told representatives of the company to send invoices related to the retainer to computer programmer Victor Crawford — the whistleblower who alerted the FBI of the actions in Hastie’s office.Tucker said he was directed to do this, despite only having one meeting with Crawford about a new website design and never working on the project.
In addition, Tucker told prosecutors he had, at one time, asked Hastie if Crawford was OK with paying for the Strateco work.
“She said ‘he better be,’” Tucker said, quoting Hastie, when asked about her response.
After testimony ended Friday evening, Hastie’s attorney, Neil Hanley said the Tucker testimony was “incomplete” and would be completed during cross-examination on Monday.
The payments to Strateco and the company’s president Chad Tucker are a significant portion of this case, and are the basis for the multiple mail and wire fraud charges against Hastie and Yeager that comprise the majority of the 17-count indictment.
Prosecutors on Friday, also examined payments Hastie’s office made to another public relations firm, Strategy and John Gray. Bordenkircher played in court a taped interview of Hastie, conducted by FBI Special Agent Ketrick Kelley.
During the interview Kelley asked Hastie if she paid $10,000 to Strategy from money collected through a $1.25 fee. In the recording, she told the agent she did, but that she didn’t think it was inappropriate.
Kelly said the money in the so-called “$1.25 fund” could only be used for upgrades to technology in the license commission office. As Hanley confirmed during Kelley’s cross-examination, Hastie seemed surprised by that.
Hanley also argued Hastie cooperated with authorities in July of 2014, when a search warrant was issued for her office and the interview was recorded. He also pointed out, through Kelly’s testimony, that she didn’t ask for an attorney at the time.
Friday also saw prosecutors continue to make their case against Hastie.
The day started with a redirect of their star witness, Crawford, after defense attorneys spent much of Thursday trying to discredit him.
Bordenkircher presented into evidence a series of Crawford’s tax returns from 2008, 2009 and 2010. The returns were meant to help prove to the jury that Crawford personally made $12,500 per month, the defense’s claim he lied about his level income when setting up child support payments in 2011. Crawford told the court that he paid everything he was required to pay for his daughter and more.
The prosecution also touched on the issue of Crawford’s APL Software Engineering overcharging the county.
Bordenkircher asked a series of questions related to employee costs that Crawford paid, as a contractor, to at least two employees. The testimony sought to explain the defense’s allegations that he charged the county $75 per hour for his employees, but only paid them $25 an hour.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sinan Kalayoglu on Friday asked Krista Foley, a former secretary of Hastie, a series of questions related to a television Crawford donated as a door prize at a license commission Christmas party.
In her testimony, Foley said she was asked by Hastie to ask Crawford about donating the television. She said Hastie wanted him to donate the television because “he kind of owed it to her” because of the work she had provided him. Foley said she was uncomfortable asking Crawford about the television because she felt it was not her place.
She said when she spoke to Crawford about the television he ignored her.
During cross-examination, Hanley got Foley to admit she was unaware of any discussions Hastie might have had with Crawford about the television and it’s possible he might have been happy to donate it.