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Former secretary testifies in Bruno retrial

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Albany/HV: Former secretary testifies in Bruno retrial
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Witness testimony resumes Wednesday in the retrial of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. On the stand Tuesday was a woman who spent two decades working for Bruno. Geoff Redick, who's been following the trial from the beginning, has the latest from Albany.


ALBANY, N.Y. -- Witness testimony at the retrial of former state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno continues today in Albany. Wayne Barr will return to the stand. He is the chief attorney for businessman Jared Abbruzese, who Bruno is accused of making corrupt deals with.

On Tuesday, Bruno let it slip that he's not in love with the legal process, though he made sure to correct that later.

"You know what, the whole process is very tiring and very boring," said Joe Bruno. "But I didn't mean it was boring, because there's nothing boring going on in my life presently. Okay?"

Bruno is trying to keep a tight lid on conversation, while the prosecution aims to blow his alleged corruption, wide open.

Leading off with witness Patricia Stackrow, Bruno's closest secretary, prosecutors illustrated how Stackrow handled all of Joe Bruno's public and private business.

Stackrow testified she even did Bruno's personal banking, cashing monthly $20,000 checks which Bruno said he made as a consultant to which the prosecution maintains, were just bribes.

"What did Senator Bruno do for CTA?" the prosecution asked, about a company that paid Bruno for the so-called consulting.

"I do not know," Stackrow said.

And again: "What did Senator Bruno do for Motient?" the prosecution asked.

"I do not know," Stackrow said.

She was asked about four companies in all, which allegedly paid Bruno, each of those companies, owned by local business mogul Jared Abbruzese.

"The prosecution is trying to show that this doesn't make sense. When you look at the timing of payments, when you look at what was done for this $20,000 a month," said Time Warner Cable News Legal Analyst Paul DerOhannesian.

The defense hardly addressing what work Bruno did. His team instead focused on Bruno's financial disclosure forms, records of money Bruno made that are required by the ethics wing of state government.

The prosecution says Bruno fudged the disclosures and left out the questionable consulting income.

But the defense asked Stackrow, if that was really true.

"Did Senator Bruno ever tell you to hide something?" They asked Stackrow. "Did Senator Bruno ever tell you not to do what the (Senate) attorneys said? Did he ever tell you to keep Jared Abbruzese's name quiet?" asked the defense.

Each time Patricia Stackrow answered, "No."

"That's one way of, again, distancing himself from the information or lack of information in the financial disclosures," DerOhannesian.

Stackrow sets up the prosecution's case, providing the jury a window into Joe Bruno's office.

Now they'll take aim at the players inside that office, those who worked there and those accused of bribing themselves through the door.

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