Published: Wednesday, November 03, 2010, 6:45 PM ??? Updated: Wednesday, November 03, 2010, 6:47 PM
The business partner of a Tuscaloosa contractor being tried on federal bribery charges involving Roy Johnson, the former chancellor of Alabama's two-year college system, testified today that he wrote a letter billing Johnson for work on Johnson's house in 2004.
Johnson had testified last week in Roger Taylor's trial that Taylor helped pay for construction costs and some appliances, doors and windows for a house he was building in 2004 in Opelika. Johnson said that after a grand jury began its investigation in 2006 he and Taylor met and decided to cover up the payments with a back dated bill to make the purchases and payments look like a loan from Taylor's firm, Hall-Taylor Construction.
Curtis Hall, who has been a business partner with Taylor for about 30 years, testified today, however, that he wrote the letter billing Johnson on June 20, 2004.
Hall said Taylor had given him some notes with numbers and names of people on it and asked him to write the letter. He said that Taylor told him it was a loan to Roy Johnson.
Hall said he wrote the letter on his computer at their offices on that Sunday. He said it wasn't unusual for them to work on a Sunday.
Taylor's defense attorney, Mark White, asked Hall why Taylor didn't type the letter. "I can type better than he can," Hall replied.
White asked Hall if he would lie for Taylor. "No, I would not," Hall replied.
Hall said he was told by federal authorities that he was not a target of their investigation because he did nothing wrong.
Hall, under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Meadows, said he never talked to Johnson about repaying the money. He said he was going to let Taylor, who had been the main person talking to Johnson,?handle that.
Hall also said he did not remember seeing the bills to their company for the appliances, windows and doors, and construction company.
Meadows also asked Hall if he remembered testifying to a grand jury that he never remembered seeing a loan to Johnson on their accounting books. Hall said he did say that.?
In all, Hall-Taylor got $3.4 million for managing 16 construction projects at nine state community colleges between 2003 and 2006, when Johnson left his post. Hall-Taylor also was paid another $939,832 for construction management work on two other state projects connected to the two-year college system, the FBI agent testified.
Hall testified that of those amounts, $2.1 million was for the construction management fees for the projects and the remainder for reimbursable expenses, including salaries, copiers and office space. Of that amount, about 40 percent went to taxes and overhead for the company, he said.
Hall was the third witness to be called by Taylor's defense attorneys, who began presenting their case today. The prosecution rested its case on Tuesday in the trial that began with jury selection on Oct. 25.
Johnson has pleaded guilty to charges involving Taylor and similar charges involving other people in the two-year college scandal. As part of his plea agreement he agreed to testify. Johnson is to be sentenced Nov. 18.
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