An office manager for former state lottery commissioner Kevin L. Geddings broke down in tears on the witness stand Tuesday when she was asked to read for jurors an e-mail message that Geddings had sent her last year.
The message directed Cheri Moore Pfisterer of Charlotte to not disclose that lottery vendor Scientific Games was a client of Geddings' public-relations firm.
Geddings sent the message four days after House Speaker Jim Black appointed him to the lottery commission.
"Pls never acknowledge by phone that sci games is a client," says the message, which was shown on a screen to jurors as Geddings stands trial on fraud charges for not disclosing the relationship. Geddings denies any wrongdoing.
Geddings said in an interview this month that he sent the message to his assistant in case The News & Observer called asking questions about Scientific Games.
When the message flashed on the screen Tuesday, Pfisterer paused to compose herself, but then cried. She recalled that Geddings had asked her before not to reveal any of his clients.
Vendor had seat at table
An aide to House Speaker Jim Black testified that a lobbyist for Scientific Games made recommendations at a meeting with Black last year that were included in the lottery bill that passed the House.
The lobbyist, Meredith Norris, was a former aide to Black.
During a meeting April 5, 2005 — the day before the House passed the lottery bill — Norris said the commission that would oversee the lottery should have three appointees by the governor, three by the speaker and three by the leader of the Senate, according to testimony by Dianna Jessup, who attended the meeting as a member of the legislative staff. Jessup is now the legal counsel in Black's office.
Before the lottery became law, further changes were made in the bill, including the makeup of the commission. The commission has five appointees by the governor, two by the speaker and two by the leader of the state Senate.
As the meeting ended, Jessup said, Black told Norris to "get with your guy" and let Black or legislative staffers know whether other changes were needed. Jessup said she subsequently received a call from Norris to suggest changes in the percentage of lottery proceeds to be set aside for winnings. The change was not made, Jessup said.
Jessup said representatives from the other major lottery vendor, GTECH Corp., stopped by Black's office twice last summer. She said they spoke about the lottery only in general terms.
Judge agrees on co-conspiracy
Before Jessup's testimony, federal prosecutors argued outside the jury's presence that Norris, Geddings and Alan Middleton, a former vice president for Scientific Games, were co-conspirators, beginning in April 2004, in attempting to pass the lottery in North Carolina.
Judge James C. Dever III agreed.
As a result, hearsay testimony may be allowed from Norris and Middleton through other witnesses.