Friday, June 20, 2008

Witness details extortion in McGee trial

The prosecution's key witness in the federal corruption case of Michael McGee Jr. spent Thursday testifying about numerous incidents in which he supplied McGee with money and goods and helped arrange meetings with other business owners and McGee.

Jack Adel's testimony was punctuated by prosecutors playing dozens of recorded phone calls, body wire recordings and several video tapes in which McGee either demanded money or other goods from Adel, or of Adel helping arrange payments from business owners who needed support for license renewals or transfers.

Adel, who served as an FBI informant in the case and owned Mother's Foods, told jurors that McGee began demanding money and goods from him starting in 2004. Adel said McGee demanded free cell phone minutes for pre-paid cell phones for him, his wife and his associates, food, money and sponsorship of fundraisers.

Adel said McGee’s demands increased over time, and Adel estimated McGee siphoned as much as $30,000 worth of money and goods from his store.

"Always his need was increasing," Adel said. "It came to the point where I got sick going in to the store."

"For what? What am I working for?" Adel said. "It is not profitable to me."

He discussed one case in which he said McGee called him before the store even opened to have more minutes put on his cell phone.

"I didn't even have my lights turned on yet and already I have expenses," Adel said.

But Adel said he kept paying McGee in order to keep his beer and liquor licenses, which he said brought in sales of over $200,000 per year.

"He was my alderman. The alderman has the power over my license," Adel said. "What can I say, no?"

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