Former lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings is a "very crafty individual" who chose to deliberately withhold information about his work for a lottery company, a prosecutor said Wednesday during closing arguments in Geddings' federal fraud trial.
"His duty was to the public and not to himself," Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Duffy told jurors, who received their instructions Wednesday afternoon and were scheduled to start deliberations Thursday.
During his 90-minute statement, Duffy described Geddings, a former chief of staff for South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges, as someone desperate for money after his income fell from more than $1 million earlier this decade to as little as a tenth of that during some years. His pay from Scientific Games Corp. was very important to him, Duffy said.
During his statement to the jury, Thomas Manning, Geddings' lead attorney, disputed the prosecution's argument. He argued that Geddings earned $1.3 million in 2005.
"That's suffering, I would say," Manning said mockingly. "It's a misdirection. Don't be fooled by that."
Geddings, 42, faces six counts of fraud related to his failure to reveal more than $250,000 in payments to his public relations firm between 2000 and 2005 from lottery systems maker Scientific Games Corp. and a company it later acquired.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines for each count.
Manning argued that the government had failed to prove that Geddings had deprived the state of his honest services, as is alleged in the fraud charges. He pointed out that his client had publicly acknowledged a friendship and business dealings with then-Scientific Games executive Alan Middleton and agreed not to vote on the hiring of a lottery company because of that tie.
Testimony in the case ended Tuesday and soon after that U.S. District Judge James Dever threw out two wire fraud charges dealing with actions that occurred before Geddings was appointed to the lottery commission, and therefore not subject to the state's ethics rules. An earlier fraud charge against Geddings was dismissed before the trial started.
He was among the last witnesses in the case, telling jurors Tuesday during his fourth day on the witness stand that he "was not as precise" as he should have been when filing a state ethics disclosure form.
He again told jurors that he didn't believe he needed to account for any past business dealings on the form filed with the State Board of Ethics, only his active work. Geddings has said he stopped working for Scientific Games before his appointment to the lottery commission.
Named to the lottery commission on Sept. 22, 2005, Geddings resigned Nov. 1, 2005, hours before Scientific Games disclosed it had paid him $24,500 that year for communications work. Geddings didn't reveal the payment on a financial disclosure form he submitted to the ethics board.
Scientific Games was one of the companies vying for business with the new lottery, although it lost out during the bid process to rival GTECH Holdings Corp.
A security official with Scientific Games testified Tuesday that Geddings did not want the company to release documents showing he was paid for work in 2005.
"Kevin Geddings indicated it would be a problem because he had not disclosed his recent work for Scientific Games," said Larry Potts, the company's security director. Geddings said he "would be done as a commissioner" if the documents were made public, Potts testified.
Geddings said after the hearing that he was afraid the information would further feed the media frenzy already surrounding him last fall.
Since his indictment, Geddings has moved from Charlotte to Florida, where he works at a St. Augustine radio station owned by his wife, Kris.
She testified Tuesday that her husband called her from a convention in Philadelphia on the night of Sept. 21, 2005, to tell her Black was considering him for a seat on the lottery commission. Kris Geddings said her husband told her he informed Black about his past business relationship with Scientific Games and told him it could lead to some bad press.
Black told Kevin Geddings "he did not normally make decisions based on what was in the media," she testified.
Black told the court last week that he didn't know about Geddings' past work with Scientific Games when he appointed him to the commission.
Black said he chose Geddings because of his experience working as an aide to Hodges, adding that he didn't speak with Geddings about the job until Sept. 22, only hours before making the appointment.