A former press secretary for City Comptroller John Liu was forced to testify at the fraud trial of two former campaign associates on Wednesday. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Sharon Lee is normally at the side of the Comptroller.
On Wednesday, she took the stand in the federal fraud trial of John Liu's former campaign treasurer and a former fundraiser.
Jenny Hou and Oliver Pan are accused of concocting a straw donor scheme to get over-the-limit campaign donations to the comptroller.
Straw donors are people who donate to a candidate using other people's money.
Throughout the trial, federal prosecutors have called a steady stream of witnesses who either were straw donors or who testified that they, too, reimbursed people who donated to the Liu campaign.
These people have immunity to testify.
Lee, too, said she offered to reimburse some family members and friends for donations to the comptroller.
But Lee has refused to take an immunity deal.
On Wednesday, her attorney, Andrew Lankler, explained why off camera.
"As a means of demonstrating how important the campaign was to her personally, she offered to reimburse," Lankler said. "This is not in furtherance of a straw donor scheme at all, and for that reason, we don't need immunity."
Lee took a leave of absence from the comptroller's office in April. She testified on Wednesday that she is now working full time for the campaign.
The entire investigation, including undercover videos, was sparked by a confidential informant, an informant we may soon learn more about.
Irwin Rochman, Pan's attorney, said he will be calling the confidential informant to the stand.
Details of his involvement, however, are hazy.
"I have some vague information about this, but we'll find out some more tomorrow or Monday," Rochman said.
Sharon Lee is expected to get back on the stand Thursday morning to finish her testimony. The prosecution is then expected to wrap up its side of the case.