Seabrook Trial, Key Witness Says Her Memory Is Fading By COLIN MOYNIHAN Published: November 30, 2011
One of the main government witnesses in the corruption trial of City Councilman Larry B. Seabrook testified on Tuesday that she had consulted a doctor about her diminishing memory,then offered contradictory accounts on several important points in the case.
The witness,Gloria Jones-Grant,was testifying under an immunity agreement approved by Judge Robert P. Patterson of Federal District Court in Manhattan.
Ms. Jones-Grant,71,had been the executive director of three nonprofit groups that prosecutors said Mr. Seabrook,60,a Bronx Democrat,had used to funnel money to himself and others. She also had a romantic relationship with him.
She testified on Monday that the relationship began around 2004 and ended in 2007. But on Tuesday,she said the relationship could have lasted until 2008. And a moment later,a prosecutor,Brent Wible, questioned that testimony,reminding Ms. Jones-Grant that she had told a grand jury that she had an “on and off” sexual relationship with Mr. Seabrook until 2009.
Mr. Wible went on to challenge the accuracy of other statements Ms. Jones-Grant had made on the stand. When she testified on Tuesday that nobody had directed her to forge signatures on sublease agreements between nonprofit groups connected to Mr. Seabrook,the prosecutor asked if she remembered that she had once told investigators that the forgery had been Mr. Seabrook’s idea.
Later,Mr. Wible questioned Ms. Jones-Grant further about her testimony that she had given cash to Mr. Seabrook after he helped her get consulting jobs. On Monday,Ms. Jones-Grant had been vague about her reasons for doing so,stating at one point that she had wanted to repay a loan from him.
On Tuesday,she stated that they had had an arrangement for her to give Mr. Seabrook part of her consulting fees.
A few minutes after,as Edward D. Wilford,a lawyer for Mr. Seabrook, began cross-examining Ms. Jones-Grant,he asked if she had seen a doctor who wanted to treat her for onset of dementia. Ms. Jones-Grant said that she had and added that she planned to begin taking medication. She had not told prosecutors that her memory was fading,she testified.
Then,calling Mr. Seabrook “a very good friend,” Ms. Jones-Grant contradicted her testimony about having an agreement to give Mr. Seabrook money from consulting fees,saying once again that she had meant only to repay a loan of $18,000.
She went on to testify that she had been mistaken in telling investigators that Mr. Seabrook had directed her to forge signatures on the sublease agreements. “I thought that I had discussed it with the councilman,” she said. “I could not put the pieces together.”
Although her romance with Mr. Seabrook was over,Ms. Jones-Grant testified that she had continued to communicate with him two to three times a week until about three weeks ago.
Later Tuesday,jurors heard from the prosecution’s last witness,a deputy inspector general in the city’s Department of Investigation,who said she had examined financial records from Mr. Seabrook and nonprofit groups connected to him.
The witness,Laila Yu, testified that $2.1 million in city financing had gone to three of the groups. They had overbilled the city $100,000 for rent reimbursements from 2005 to 2007,she said.
And,Ms. Yu said, nonprofit groups tied to Mr. Seabrook paid just over $600,000 to his sister,brother and friends,including Ms. Jones-Grant.
Mr. Wible asked Ms. Yu to examine sections of financial disclosure forms submitted to the city by Mr. Seabrook for 2003,2004 and 2005,on which he was required to describe any debts owed to him by nonrelatives.
After looking at the forms,Ms. Yu said that in all three years,Mr. Seabrook indicated he was owed no money in that category.
Michael Benjamin
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