WASHINGTON – A former tax official resumed his testimony in the federal corruption trial of Mayor Vincent Cianci Jr. on Wednesday, offering details on a bribe he said he arranged to enrich the mayor's campaign.
Cianci, 60, went on trial Tuesday on charges that include extortion, mail fraud, and racketeering and soliciting bribes for city contracts and jobs.
David Ead, the former vice chairman of the city's tax review board, said Tuesday that he delivered $15,000 to two of Cianci's top aides and arranged a third bribe, but the deal fell through.
Returning to the stand Wednesday, Ead detailed one of those acts. He said that after five months of trying to finagle a deal to lower back taxes on an estate, he brought his case to Cianci himself and offered a $10,000 campaign contribution.
"Why did you use the words 'campaign contribution"' in talking to the mayor?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Rose asked.
"They're nice words," Ead said. "You can't expect to walk into the mayor's office ... and say here's a bribe."
In exchange for the contribution, the estate's $500,000 bill for back taxes was reduced to $100,000, prosecutors said. Ead said he gave the money to Cianci's co-defendant and former top aide Frank Corrente.
Businessmen Richard Autiello and Edward Voccola are also on trial.
Ead pleaded guilty to extortion charges two years ago and agreed to cooperate in the investigation.
In his first day on the witness stand, Ead testified he arranged a $5,000 bribe in exchange for a job with the city Planning Department. He also said he set up a kickback by an undercover FBI informant who wanted to buy city-owned land, but the deal fell through.
In opening statements Tuesday, Cianci's attorney, Richard Egbert, attacked the credibility of the government's witnesses.
"The people who are going to tell you this story are liars, cheats and thieves," he said.
Egbert said Ead and former tax board Chairman Joseph Pannone, who pleaded guilty to related charges last month, used the city as "their own private piggy bank."
Cianci was first elected mayor in 1974. He left office in 1984 in the middle of his third term after pleading no contest to beating his estranged wife's lover with a fireplace log. After a stint as a radio talk-show host, he was re-elected in 1990.