Taubenberger apparently called in some favors to get Wright into Livengrin, the in-demand rehab center in Bensalem. Taubenberger sadi he called State Rep. Gene DiGirola, who called him back within minutes to say it was done. Wright entered Livengrin in October 2005. Taubenberger was Kelly's chief of staff during Kelly's first stint in City Council, between 1988 and 1992. Defense rests. Testimony concluded, all the evidence is in. Jury will return tomorrow for closing arguments beginning at 11 a.m.
Teitelman finishes testifying. He survived without major trip-ups on cross examination. Now for character witnesses, including Beryl Katz, executive director of Senior Adults for Greater Education, a 10-year-old volunteer organization of senior citizens tutoring school children in Bucks County. After her is formal GOP mayoral candidate Al Taubenberger, who goes way back with Chris Wright.
Juror No. 2 has been removed by Judge Robreno. "I just wanted to let you know that Juror No. 2 is no longer going to be sitting with us," Robreno said. "You shouldn’t speculate as to the reason why she will not do so, but she will not be here."
A U.S. Marshal has blocked anyone from leaving the courtroom during a break. Apparently Judge Robreno is questioning Juror No. 2. It's not clear whether she will remain.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Williams, on cross examination, noted that Teitelman got a raise on his retainer from the Chawlas, from $10,000 a month to $14,000 a month, in 2004. That was the same year that Jack Kelly assumed his City Council office, with Teitelman as his campaign treasurer. She appears to be implying that Teitelman became more valuable when Kelly was elected.
Teitelman is getting into it with Williams, who grilled him about failing to file tax returns for at least five years starting in 1999. Teitelman owed $140,000 in back taxes.
The IRS caught up with Teitelman in fall of 2007, in the midst of the criminal FBI probe.
"And then you quickly filed all your tax returns?" Williams asked.
"It’s an unfortunate coincidence that the government decided to have that investigation at this time," Teitelman said. "And you know that," he said to Williams, "because you threatened to charge me……"
Judge Robreno stopped Teitelman over objections.
Williams then got Teitelman to acknowledge that he slipped a note to John Cerrone, Kelly's current chief of staff, when Cerrone came to watch the trial. The note was to Kelly, who had not yet testified, about changes to the wiretap transcripts. The U.S. Attorneys Office does not like defendants to interfere with government witnesses in any way.
"I wanted to make sure the Councilman knew that errors had been corrected," Teitelman said.
"You’re a lawyer, sir?" asked Williams. "That is all I have," your honor. Cross examination ended. Prosecutors may come back on re-cross. Judge took a break at 2:50 p.m.
Before the cross examination of Teitelman began, defense attorneys returned to their complaints about Juror No. 2, whom they said was sleeping during Teitelman's testimony this morning. She woke up, exclaimed "Uh-oh," and started laughing, they said. Judge Robreno said he would take up the issue after court today. See related posts on Juror No. 2.
Teitelman explained why he sent Wright a $350 bill for legal services in January 2008, five months after the federal indictment.
"I was in a quandary. I didn’t want to charge him, but ...if they’re saying its wrong to give him free legal services, I wanted to be safe, rather than sorry. "
"I can’t tell you what its like to go through this experience," Teitelman said of the FBI investigation. " I didn’t know what to do. If they’re saying it's illegal, I might as well charge him. I didn’t want to charge him, but I didn’t wan to take any chances."
Teitelman is testifying that he did not need Wright to get to Jack Kelly. And he said the Chawlas' financial support for Kelly's campaign was inspired by Teitelman. The Chawlas contributed at least $39,000 between 2003 and 2007 in campaign contributions.
"It's because of me they became the large contributors they became," Teitelman said. "I wanted them to do it and they did it."
As far as Wright approaching the Chawlas with potential buyers for their properties in the hope of earning a real estate commission (Wright is a Realtor also), Teitelman said: "It was perfectly legal then, and it’s perfectly legal now."
Teitelman said he hasn't received a bonus from the Chawlas for the last two years. Business went south not just because of a bad real estate market, he said, but because of news about the federal investigation into the Chawlas' companies.
Andy Teitelman takes the stand, the third of four defendants to testify. Hardeep Chawla will not testify -- this would give prosecutors a chance to reveal details of his 2006 conviction of making a false statement to a federal agency (Hardeep was supposed to pass on a city tax break to his tenant, the Internal Revenue Service. Instead, he kept the tax break for himself and lied about it. The IRS is a good tenant to cheat).
Teitelman will want to do better than Chris Wright and Ravi Chawla, who spent too much time and energy trying to control the facts, even when the facts were not going to hurt them badly. Both Wright and Ravi Chawla contradicted both themselves and evidence that the prosecutors showed the court. Chawla even challenged information on his own resume and said blamed the "mistake" on someone else who wrote it for him. Wright tried to deny that Teitelman was acting as his lawyer when he did him legal favors, and prosecutor Mike Bresnick hit him with letters and legal filings that said the opposite.
Teitelman, who said his spent 70-80 percent of his legal practice representing the Chawlas and their companies, is a key figure. Not only was he the Chawlas' lawyer, he was Wright's "best friend" and Kelly's campaign treasurer between 2003 and the end of 2008. He did free legal work for Wright, saying he did it out of friendship, and helped set him up in the Rittenhouse Square apartment that Wright spent more than a year in rent-free.
Technical challenges kept Heard in the Hall from blogging from the courtroom yesterday, but check out the rough ride Chris Wright had on the stand yesterday.
Testimony resumed this morning with developer David Stubbs and his mother, Joyce Stubbs, a former Overbrook High School principal. The two testified that Ravi Chawla was an upstanding citizen.