The trial of Mobile License Commissioner wrapped up its first week with the FBI agent in charge of the investigation on the witness stand.
FBI agent Kit Kelly testified today about raiding the License Commission office last summer. He said he began his investigation after he was approached by Victor Crawford – an independent computer contractor in Hastie’s office. Crawford said he was concerned about things Hastie was asking him to do – like buying office Christmas presents – and passing through billing for work he wasn’t familiar with.
Crawford testified for more than two days. The defense hammered away at his credibility.
“I think he was a totally unbelievable witness,” said Hastie’s attorney Neil Hanley. “His story didn’t make sense.”
Crawford admitted under cross examination that he had to reimburse the county $82,000 it claimed he overcharged in 2007. He also said he is currently billing the county $75/hour for work his assistant does, even though he pays her only $25/hour.
Also testifying today was Mobile County County Finance Director Michelle Herman. She said all contract work done by any county agency, such as the License Commission, has to be approved by the County Commission.
Prosecutors say Hastie had a marketing firm do work on her plan to merge the License and Revenue Commission offices, without a contract, and hid it by having Crawford bill it.
But Hastie’s lawyer says the work also included web and social media aspects and therefore it made sense to bill it through Crawford’s computer consulting contract.
“It fit,” said Hanley. “The contract that Crawford had with the County said Kim could direct him to add additional people to do work directed by her.”
Hastie’s top assistant, Ramona Yeager, a 41-year employee of the License Commission office is also charged. Prosecutors say she know about Hastie’s questionable billing and lied about it to the FBI.
Testimony resumes Monday.