MILWAUKEE — A jury will begin deliberations on Friday, August 24th in the case against former Milwaukee County Supervisor Johnny Thomas who is accused of accepting a $500 bribe. Thomas took the stand in his own defense on Thursday, August 23rd.
Thomas is accused of accepting the bribe on December 2, 2011 in order to put a contract on the agenda for the financial committee he chaired. That meeting took place in a Dunkin’ Donuts. Unbeknownst to Thomas, Milwaukee County’s Director of Administrative Services, Patrick Farley was recording the whole thing.
Thursday morning, the prosecution rested its case, and the defense called its key witness to the stand — Johnny Thomas. The rest of the day, both sides questioned every word of Thomas’ that was secretly recorded. Thomas’ defense says charges of accepting a bribe are based entirely on a misunderstanding. The prosecution says Thomas knew what he was doing.
On the stand Thursday, Thomas insisted he trusted Farley. Thomas told the court he left a message on Farley’s cell phone after seeing the $500 in question was in cash; he wanted to know why. He believed Farley had not led him astray. Thomas testified saying, “I have no reason not to trust him.”
Prosecutors shot back during cross-examination.
“Did you understand that Mr. Farley was proposing in this conversation that PFM (the contract’s vendor) would give you campaign contributions. Yes or no?” asked the prosecutor.
“I didn’t take it that way. I know that he was talking about PFM. But I really wasn’t correlating the two,” Thomas said.
Prosecutors continually tried to force a confession out of Thomas. But Thomas never relented his position.
“Would you ever take a bribe?” asked prosecutors.
“No,” Thomas said.
Without a clear-cut intention behind Thomas’ words, the jury decided this case may have a difficult time determining innocence or guilt.
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