Prosecution to Offer Evidence of Adelman's Interactions with State Gov't
In its response to a series of the defense's pre-trial motions in the "bid-rigging" case against Georgia Thompson, the prosecution said Sunday it intends to introduce evidence related to the interaction between Gov. Jim Doyle's office, Adelman Travel Group representatives and political appointees within the Department of Administration.
Thompson's attorney, Stephen Hurley, has asked the court to rule such evidence inadmissible.
Thompson is accused of inflating bid scores as a DOA employee on a request for proposals committee due to "political considerations," so a now-rescinded $750,000 state travel contract would be awarded to Doyle campaign contributor Adelman Travel. Her trial is scheduled to begin in a Milwaukee federal court this morning.
The government seems to be making the case that Thompson may have not been directly pressed to push Adelman, but that she "perceived" her superiors wanted Adelman to win the bid.
The government said that "evidence that Adelman Travel did in fact have access to, and political influence within, the highest levels of state government increases the likelihood that Georgia Thompson perceived that access and influence and further perceived that her politically appointed superiors favored Adelman Travel."
The filing further states that "the government intends to prove such connections and access by evidence of:
* correspondence between Adelman Travel and the Governor's Office and the DOA
* meetings Adelman Travel principals and representatives had with political appointees and others within Governor's Office and DOA, before the travel-agency-services RFP was issued
* phone calls between Adelman Travel and the Secretary of the Department of Administration during the RFP process
* contributions Craig Adelman made to Governor James Doyle's campaign fund
In the rest of the 12-page document the government asks the court to deny all five of the defense motions made that its filing addresses. They included Hurley's request to disallow information on the termination of Adelman's contract after Thompson was indicted.
The prosecution says that motion is moot, because it does not intend to offer evidence related to the termination of the Adelman contract nor how well Adelman performed under its terms.
The government also disagreed with the defense's assertion that the term "bid-rigging" is misleading and should not be used during trial, saying "the term is an accurate short-hand for the type of conduct alleged in the indictment."
Hurley had also asked the court to disallow testimony from other members of the committee relating to the motivation for Thompson's actions. The filing quotes several interviews with investigators where committee members said they thought there was "outside pressure," "outside forces" or "political reasons" behind some of Thompson's actions in committee.
Hurley argued that federal rules of evidence "require that a witness give testimony based on perception from the five senses – not from some sixth sense."
The government is arguing, however, that honest services fraud is a "specific intent crime" and that the defendant's "state of mind is clearly at issue."
The prosecution further states that "the jury is entitled to get the full flavor of how the contract was awarded; that includes the witnesses' perceptions of Thompson's state of mind -- based on their personal knowledge of her conduct, comments, and demeanor. What weight those perceptions deserve is for the jury."
In another motion Hurley asked Thompson be addressed as "Ms. Thompson," "Georgia Thompson," or "the accused," instead of as "the defendant," which Hurley said presumes guilt.
The government replied that "Thompson is the defendant in this case. Referring to her as such is accurate and will in no way undermine the presumption of innocence or alter the government's burden of proof, particularly upon the jurors' being instructed as to these matters before their deliberations."
Read the prosecution's filings:
*Prosecution Response to In Limine Filings:
See a previous Courtwatch post on other pre-trial filings
-- By David A. Wise