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Star witness a ‘high roller’ Cognos regional manager says strategy meetings held at casinos

Star witness a ‘high roller’
Cognos regional manager says strategy meetings held at casinos
By Laurel J. Sweet  |   Tuesday, May 10, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Politics

Photo by Matt Stone

Salesmen for the global software firm at the center of ex-House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi’s corruption trial held strategy meetings at glitzy casinos on behalf of a company that boasted former Big Apple Mayor Rudy Giuliani as an advocate, a former executive testified yesterday.

Christopher Quinter, who was a regional manager for Cognos — now part of IBM — told jurors he once saw sales rep Joseph P. Lally Jr., the government’s star witness against DiMasi, casually slap $10,000 down on a roulette wheel during a business trip to Foxwoods.

“He was a high roller,” said Quinter on his second day of intense cross-examination by attorneys for DiMasi’s co-defendants, accountant Richard Vitale and lobbyist Richard “Dickie” McDonough.

And that wasn’t all Quinter had to say about Lally, his go-to guy on multimillion-dollar state contracts for Cognos that DiMasi is accused of pocketing $65,000 in bribes to push through. During testimony not heard by jurors, Quinter said he warned the U.S. Attorney’s Office during his pre-trial preparation that Lally “was a bull-(expletive).”

Lally pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy and fraud charges in exchange for his testimony against DiMasi, Vitale and McDonough and the word of prosecutors to recommend he serve no more than three years in prison. Already a lightning rod of controversy, it’s unclear when he’ll be put on the witness stand.

DiMasi’s defense team will get their crack at Quinter today. Also yesterday, during questioning by Vitale’s lawyer Martin Weinberg, Quinter said former South Carolina Gov. James “Jim” Hodges and Giuliani worked for Cognos in advisory capacities.

“You wanted a deep Rolodex. You wouldn’t want to hire anybody who didn’t know anyone. You always needed an audience with the key decision-maker. It was the norm in the industry,” Quinter said of Cognos’ attraction to A-list advance men.

Giuliani, a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, declined comment. Hodges, who now runs a business and government-relations consulting firm, confirmed for the Herald he was on “a modest retainer” for a couple years, well after leaving office in 2003.

“They had a very good product,” he said of Cognos. “The folks I dealt with were very straight up.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1336808

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