Mayor Eddie A. Perez's lawyer said he was unknowingly tape-recorded by the lead investigator in the mayor's corruption case and made a statement on the tape that might implicate him in the evidence-fabrication charge that the mayor faces.
Lawyer Hubert Santos said at the end of Tuesday's trial testimony that he'd either have to withdraw and request a mistrial, or get on the witness stand and testify if Inspector Michael Sullivan talks about the taped conversation. Sullivan is expected to testify Thursday.
Santos told Superior Court Judge Julia Dewey that he sent documents to Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane's office in July 2007, at Kane's request. Included was the bill for $20,000 that city contractor Carlos Costa gave the mayor on Feb. 28, 2007, nearly two years after Costa said he did an estimated $40,000 worth of remodeling work on the mayor's house.
Santos said the documents were sent with no cover letter, and that Sullivan called him a day or two later to ask him about some of the contents.
Santos said that when the inspector inquired about the scope of the bill, Santos said he replied that the bill "represented everything that was done" at the mayor's house.
Because the state contends that the bill was a hastily prepared document that grossly underestimated Costa's work, Santos said he's concerned that the prosecution could try to implicate him in the alleged fabrication of evidence, which is one of the felony charges lodged against the mayor.
Santos said that the conversation with Sullivan occurred early in the defense investigation of the charges, and that Santos wasn't aware of the details and the context surrounding the bill. He said he wasn't authorized to make such a statement.
Prosecutor Michael Gailor told the judge that the state does regard Santos' statement as "an admission by counsel on behalf of a client."
Santos said that if this comes out through Sullivan's testimony on Thursday, he'd be in the position of having to withdraw or take the witness stand.
Dewey said she would rule on the admissibility of Santos' statement to Sullivan before Sullivan's testimony.
Santos also asked Dewey to break the trial into two parts and separate the bribery and evidence fabrication case involving Costa's work from the larceny by extortion charge. The latter charge arises from allegations that Perez steered lucrative, no-bid parking-lot deals to political power broker Abraham Giles in exchange for Giles' support in the 2007 mayoral campaign.
Santos said the mayor wants to testify on his own behalf in the bribery case involving Costa, who said he did the work on the mayor's house in exchange for the mayor's help with Costa's work on Park Street, a $5.3 million reconstruction job plagued by delays and disputes over workmanship.
But Santos said the mayor would prefer not to testify in the Giles portion of the case.
Dewey said that deciding whether the mayor testifies based on which witnesses are on the stand "seems too fluid."
Santos said that he and partner Hope Seeley had to hear what Costa had to say before making a decision.
Gailor, who objected to splitting the cases, said the defense could decide during the Giles portion that the mayor wants to testify there, too. Dewey, who has previously denied a defense request to sever the cases, said she'd study the case law again and issue a ruling.
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