The Roscoe Dixon trial moves into its second week Monday, with the prosecution expected to finish presenting its case by Tuesday. Here’s a wrap-up of the first week’s highlights, or, should we say, lowlights from several hours of secretly recorded video and audio tapes and DVDs.
“Throw me one of them stacks, man.” Roscoe Dixon to bag man Barry Myers, in the Harbor Town home of FBI informant Tim Willis. Dixon walks out with a stack of ten $100 bills, leaving another $5,000 on the table. Myers testified that he gave Dixon an additional $1,000 later that day and that Dixon was “scared of his own (expletive) shadow.”
“Take care of Barry.” Dixon to Willis. This is likely to become the signature line from the case. The government contends Dixon was wily enough to avoid taking money directly but corrupt enough to take it on the sly on at least three occasions. Or as Myers put it on one of the tapes, “You gon’ hand it to me and it’s gonna be understood because you didn’t give him nothin’.”
“I’ll be a John Ford in there.” Barry Myers thought he would be chosen by the Shelby County Commission to replace Dixon when his mentor was appointed to a county job by Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton. With allowances for bluster and the bad language many people use when they think they are engaging in a private conversation, Myers gives a thoroughly cynical view of a state government in which influence is for sale, money is the object, and sincerity and “environmental shit” are for suckers.
No sentimental claptrap about doing the peoples’ business when Mr. Myers goes to Nashville. With visions of dollar signs in his head, Myers vowed to “make so much fuckin’ money” in the Senate by selling his influence to “white boys.” Dixon, he said, even gave him his personal copy of the state seal. Alas, it wasn’t to be. The commission chose Sidney Chism instead.
“This is a fight over money.” Roscoe Dixon’s evaluation of the battle to extend Tenn-Care benefits to the Children’s Dental Clinic network in Memphis at the expense of established dentists such as Cleo Kirk and Vasco Smith. Prosecutors showed these tapes to attempt to persuade the jury that Dixon was “predicated,” or inclined to take bribes even before the phony FBI company E-Cycle Management was created.
“I’ll show Barry how to mobilize the black caucus.” Dixon told Willis and other E-Cycle representatives he would use his legislative experience of 22 years to their advantage. The black caucus includes 18 lawmakers, 12 of whom are from Memphis.
“This means a quarter million to me.” Tim Willis, posing as a lobbyist for E-Cycle Management, claimed he would make this much money if a bill was passed giving his company exclusive salvage rights to state computers and other electronic equipment. Barry Myers figured he could make as much as $75,000. “I get a piece of that action,” he said.
“I want to be a player.” Tim Willis tells this to Roscoe Dixon three times as he counts out $6,000 as Dixon and Myers watch wrestling on television at Willis’ house. Dixon advises Willis to go slow because Willis is only 33 years old at the time.
“I would always short the amount I gave them initially so he would have to count it.” Willis explained that this way the FBI would have a better picture of the payoff. In the meeting with Myers and Dixon, he first lays out $5,500, then pulls the remaining $500 out of his pocket after Myers does the first count in front of Willis’ hidden camera. Willis recorded hundreds of hours of tapes. In one situation, he was wearing a body wire while simultaneously taping a call on his cell phone.
“Barry needs to quietly take care of Kathryn.” Dixon mentions his legislative colleague Kathryn Bowers several times on the tapes. On one tape, Willis and Myers rendezvous with Bowers to make an alleged payoff of $2,000. Bowers has been indicted and is scheduled to go on trial later this year.
“If we don’t get the legislation, the rest of the planning doesn’t matter.” Joe Carson, whose real name is Joseph Carroll, was the fake CEO of E-Cycle Management. Carson told Myers and Dixon the bill he wanted passed a “stand alone, sneak-through-the-backdoor bill,” as he put it would enable to company to do a public stock offering. If the stock soared in price, E-Cycle’s executives would make $20 to $30 million in the fake scenario.
“How many babies will be born defective?” Dixon offered this as a rationale for the E-Cycle legislation, which would supposedly have kept old computers out of Tennessee landfills and the Memphis artesian well water system. “You don’t want the PCBs goin’ into the ground water,” Carson agreed.
“Our business model made absolutely no sense.” It’s not every day you hear a CEO trash his own company, but this is how Carroll, aka Carson, sized up E-Cycle when he took the stand last week. “Nobody ever questioned us about the way our business operated,” said Carroll, a former FBI agent for 30 years.
“It’s just the niggas you wanna be payin’.” Myers tells E-Cycle officials not to waste their time on white lawmakers such as Paul Stanley and Curtis Person.
“Once I got contracts I’m golden, baby. I’m in fat city.” L.C. was the undercover name for E-Cycle’s other top official. L.C. put the dollar signs in the eyes of Barry Myers with quotes like this one. “I’m looking’ at makin’ 20 to 30 million if it goes public,” L.C. told Myers.
“Did you ever see a better con man than L.C. or Timothy Willis?” Defense attorney Coleman Garrett got this line in on cross examination before assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza objected. The objection was sustained.
Garrett plans to argue that Dixon was entrapped, but he seems to be scoring few points with the jury so far. Myers and Willis came off as glib and occasionally smug, but the money tapes, which the jury saw as many as three times each, will likely speak louder than any witness. Garrett will begin presenting witnesses Tuesday or Wednesday. They may possibly include other state lawmakers who will testify about E-Cycle or may be character witnesses for Dixon.