Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Feds question Baggett finances

North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays was among those who testified Wednesday in federal court in Little Rock as the defense case began for an indicted alderman and alleged mobster.

Defense attorney John Wesley Hall, who is representing North Little Rock Alderman Sam Baggett, called Hays as a character witness.

Baggett is facing a six-count indictment on charges of selling guns and ammunition and making false statements to federal agents.

George Wylie Thompson of Cabot is facing eight counts that range from guns to gambling; his defense attorney, Blake Hendrix, rested this morning. Thompson, who is alleged to have connections with the Colombo crime family, was convicted on drug trafficking charges earlier this year. Thompson chose not to testify in his own defense.

Thompson has one more trial scheduled Feb. 1 on charges that he participated in a public works bid-rigging scheme. His co-defendant, former North Little Rock alderman Cary Gaines, pleaded guilty to a single felony charge last week.
Hays testified in the morning, as did Sam Baggett Jr., and when he was called, it caused his father to sob for more than five minutes.

Baggett’s son said he has taken possession of his father’s guns. Someone under federal indictment can’t legally possess firearms. Baggett Jr., a youth pastor for a Jacksonville church, said the weapons were being stored at his Cabot home. He also went over his father’s medical problems.

Hays testified that he first became aware of Baggett around 1990 after a murder in North Little Rock’s Levy neighborhood. After that incident, Baggett started Neighbors United for Levy and became more active in the community. Hays began getting his hair cut at Baggett’s barbershop about 15 years ago.

Hays said he was “disappointed” when he learned of the legal troubles of Baggett and Gaines. He said he met Thompson on a single occasion at Baggett’s barbershop but didn’t really recall it.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Harris asked Hays if he would accept a campaign donation from a convicted felon. Baggett took a $500 check from Thompson in his 2008 run for alderman, an election he won in a runoff.

“I don’t know I have,” Hays said. “I’ve turned down money from folks. People whom I particularly care for.”

Former Pulaski County Sheriff Carroll Gravett also testified as a character witness for Baggett on Wednesday morning.

Baggett and his wife, Carla, testified in the afternoon before court broke for the day.
Carla Baggett said Dara Booth, who testified Tuesday, was not being truthful in her testimony.

Hall said it was “to show that Dara Booth is lying” when she said Baggett was aware of Thompson’s criminal past when he sold him weapons.

Carla Baggett went into some detail about the family’s financial history and her husband’s medical problems. Baggett has been on Social Security disability since 1995 and claims a panic disorder that kept him in his home for around 15 years.

Under cross-examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Hoey called into question the truthfulness of income tax returns and reported wages.

In 2007, Hoey said income tax returns showed that Carla Baggett made around $30,000 and the barbershop had a net income of $217. In 2008, the income was around $29,000 and the shop made around $2,000 net.

Bank records introduced Wednesday showed that a checking account for Sam’s Barbershop had deposits of $13,500 in 2007 and $11,000 of those deposits were in cash; in 2008 it was $16,500 in deposits and $14,600 in cash.

Baggett never reported any income for his gun sales and Carla Baggett claimed that any deposits must have come from her account.

Sam Baggett also reported to the Social Security Administration that he hasn’t had any income since 1995, from when he first went on disability.

“Our allegation is that he didn’t do either truthfully,” Hoey said in reference to the financial records.

In income statements required of elected officials, Baggett reported making less than $12,500 as a barber and also listed his part-time alderman’s salary as income as well. Income from a rent house was also reported.

Carla Baggett said that the year has been rough and that they have been trying to sell the rent house to help pay lawyer fees. She said the couple also has taken out a second mortgage on their home to help raise money.

The length of the trial has caused concern for some on the jury.

One juror asked to be excused if the trial wasn’t going to be completed by Saturday, saying it would interfere with a preplanned family Christmas event.

U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson asked the attorneys how much longer it would take.

Hall said he only had Sam Baggett to testify and possibly two more witnesses for a brief time on Thursday morning.

Hoey said no rebuttal witnesses were planned and that closing arguments could happen on Thursday.

The trial would then go to the jury.

The judge said he wasn’t going to excuse the juror in question because he felt the case should be finished by week’s end.

Court will resume at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday.



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