Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the witness stand Monday in the trial against a former political aide accused of stealing $1.1 million during the 2009 reelection campaign, leading the defense to slam him with allegations that touched upon political contributions and even the recent resignation of a former deputy mayor. NY1’s Grace Rauh filed the following report.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the stand Monday in the grand larceny and money laundering trial involving one of his former campaign aides, and the city's political world was mesmerized.
The mayor is the alleged victim in the case. John Haggerty stands accused of stealing more than $1 million from Bloomberg during his 2009 reelection bid.
Haggerty allegedly duped the mayor into paying for a sham ballot security operation. In court, Bloomberg admitted that he personally never asked for his money back. He also defended his decision to fund the poll watching through a political party instead of paying for it directly as a campaign expense.
Bloomberg largely kept his cool under intense cross-examination, even when the questions touched upon everything from his decision to run for a third term to a payroll scandal at City Hall.
He did, however, show a lack of knowledge about some key aspects of the case, namely the laws governing contributions to political parties.
“Quite frankly we were a little surprised with the number of questions that the mayor simply did not know the answer to,” said Dennis Vacco, attorney for John Haggerty.
At one point, in an apparent effort to discredit the mayor, the defense tried to use words from the mayor's own autobiography against him. The prosecution pounced, calling it courtroom theater.
“That is not an ambush when we are pointing to the witness’ own words in an autobiography. This is the DA’s witness. He is not ours. You would think that the DA would come better prepared,” said Vacco.
The trial has not appeared to be a welcome turn of events for Bloomberg. The defense has accused him of committing campaign fraud and implied that the mayor lied about the resignation of a former deputy mayor, Stephen Goldsmith, who left City Hall in the face of domestic abuse allegations.
The trial is expected to wrap up next week. Haggerty faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
For complete coverage on the Haggerty trial, watch "Inside City Hall" at 7 and 10 p.m.