Friday, January 12, 2007

Calvin Williams Trial Goes to Jury

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Closing arguments were made Thursday in the federal bribery trial of former Shelby County Commission chief administrator Calvin Williams. The jury will begin deliberating Thursday or Friday after hearing three days of testimony.

On Thursday, Williams took the stand in his own defense and testified for a little over an hour. He was sharply cross-examined by assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza, who attempted to show jurors that a $1500 payment to Williams in 2003 was illegal. Williams said it was legitimate fee from a business partnership.

“I was ready to ease out of government,” Williams said of his status in 2002, shortly before he resigned under pressure from his $101,000 a year job. He said he was working on a business venture that could have earned him $2.5 million if it had gone through.

The payment at issue was made by Tim Willis, who was working undercover for the FBI and recorded several meetings with Williams. Jurors heard Williams talk about giving “a share” to former commissioner Cleo Kirk, who was not indicted and who did not testify. On the witness stand, Williams said the money that was supposedly intended to go to Kirk was to cover a campaign contribution that had been paid for with a bounced check.

DiScenza said it is “irrelevant” to jurors whether or not Kirk got any money.

The prosecutor noted that on one of the tapes Williams says he had no business interest in a company called Strategic Solutions formed by Willis. But on the stand he said he had a 30-percent interest, which is why he was due the $1500 payment.

“You said you had no interest in Strategic Solutions,” said DiScenza. “You would have lied about it?”

“We have a difference of opinion,” said Williams. — John Branston

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