The prosecution worked very hard today to lay out Jennifer Pouncy's testimony on a timeline to make it easier to digest. Recorded conversations were played for the court stretching from the day of the BIR vote (March 3, 2010) to the day of the actual vote on SB 380 (March 30, 2010).
Jennifer Pouncy started where we left off Friday afternoon describing her conversation with Sen. Preuitt on the morning of March, 3, 2010, before the BIR vote on SB 380. Preuitt told Pouncy that if he had to vote for the bill that day, he would be a "no" vote. Preuitt told Pouncy he had personal disputes with both Milton McGregor (over his employment of Rick Hartselle) and Dr. Paul Hubbert (over an alleged $2 million Hubbert had in a fund to be used against Preuitt's campaign in the upcoming election).
Pouncy told the court she took that knowledge back to Jarrod Massey who told her to relay a $2 million offer to Preuitt for his campaign from Massey and Ronnie Gilley. Pouncy couldn't remember if the meeting with Preuitt happened on the afternoon of the BIR vote or the next morning. She said she met with Preuitt in his office and she understood the offer to be that Massey and Gilley would give $2 million to Preuitt's campaign in return for a "yes" vote on SB 380. She told Preuitt he could call Ronnie Gilley if he wanted to confirm the offer. In response to the offer, Pouncy said Preuitt just looked at her and then changed the subject.
"I didn't normally think they would give him $2 million. . . The desperation that they had to get the bill passed. . . they wanted him to vote yes." -Pouncy
Pouncy told the court that she thought she was engaging in a bribe at that time. Prosecutor Edward Kang told the court that Pouncy did plead guilty to this bribe. On a side note, Pouncy originally met with the FBI on April 19, 2010. She did tell the agent at that time about the $2 million offer, however, she told the agent that the offer was made BEFORE the BIR vote which was incorrect. The offer was made afterwards - Pouncy told the court she realized the error she made after she listened to wiretapped called between herself and Jarrod Massey.
In a conversation on March 9, 2010 that was played for the court, Massey asks Pouncy again for Sen. Preuitt's cell phone number and adds, "Ronnie still wants me to get that cell number for Preuitt...Jamey Johnson is on board to do whatever he h*** we need him to...so if Preuitt wants to give us the 21st vote... We're still on board for moving towards what he talked about yesterday, but nothing major."
Jamey Johnson is a country music singer (famous for the song "In Color") who Pouncy told the court was going to perform for Preuitt's campaign at Ronnie Gilley's behest in exchange for Preuitt's vote.
As to that "Still on board for moving towards what he talked about yesterday" comment - Pouncy instructed Massey that the better approach for Sen. Preuitt would be to talk face-to-face rather than over the phone. "I thought Ronnie needed to go see him." said Pouncy. Gilley told Pouncy that he couldn't go - he was in Mississippi talking with the Mayor of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Gilley wanted his "campaign guy," defendant Jay Walker, to go in his place. Pouncy also added that she got a text from Sen. Means saying Preuitt was willing to meet with Pouncy and Gilley.
Pouncy told the court that Ronnie Gilley called her later that same day and said he had talked to Preuitt. Gilley set up a time for Preuitt to meet with Walker on March 23, 2010.
The day of the meeting, Pouncy met up with Walker to talk before she introduced him to Preuitt. Walker told Pouncy that he was going to talk to Preuitt about doing some campaign work and some polling work for Preuitt's district. Pouncy also told the court that Walker was going to talk with Preuitt about purchasing either 100 Fords or a million dollars in Fords - she couldn't remember the specific wording. Pouncy says she understood that those offers were being made in exchange for Preuitt's vote.
Pouncy talked with Walker after he met with Preuitt. She told the court that Walker told her that he told Preuitt about some polling and campaign work and that Preuitt didn't commit to anything, he just listened. Pouncy called Massey after the meeting with Walker and told him, "He of course didn't commit...he liked a lot of ideas and Jay wants to poll his district...but that's how Preuitt is." Pouncy said Preuitt called her twice that evening but she didn't answer the calls because she was already in bed - she added in the 12 years she'd known Preuitt he'd never called her cell phone. Pouncy met with Preuitt later the next day. She told the court he asked her, "If this bill does not pass the house, will this commitment still stand?"
At that point Pouncy broke into tears on the stand. She told the court. "I knew it was illegal. What was going on was illegal." Pouncy told Preuitt she would have to ask her boss, Massey. Massey gave her the answer so she told Preuitt the commitment would stand. Preuitt then told her they would talk later.
Pouncy then told the court she and Massey talked again a short time later. In the call Massey says to Pouncy, "I need you to call Jay...one of the things he committed to Preuitt was for them to do a poll… Jay's reluctant to rock-and-roll until he gives us a commitment... I ain't going to pay for a d*** $20,000 poll until I know he's with us."
On another call Massey tells Pouncy that he talked to Preuitt and, " We got into commitments...he understands we're for real. He was giving me some winks and some other stuff..." Pouncy says she understood Massey's statement to mean that Massey thought Preuitt understood the alleged deal.
Pouncy told the court she had her final talk with Preuitt on March 30, 2010, the day of the vote on SB 380. Pruitt told her, while she was standing in a group, that he had called the governor and told him he was going to vote "yes" on SB 380. When Pouncy told Massey Preuitt had confirmed to her, Massey seemed unsurprised. He told Pouncy Preuitt "was supposed to be all squared away." Pouncy said she took it to mean that Jarrod already knew Preuitt was voting yes.
Pouncy told the court on Friday she was promised $100,000 if she secured Preuitt's vote on SB 380. She told the court she never received that money because she "didn't get Preuitt's vote." She said someone else got it, she wasn't sure who.
Pouncy again discussed her plea. She pleaded guilty to offering Preuitt a $2 million "bribe" and to conspiring with others to offer campaign work, polling work, country music singers and trucks to be purchased from Preuitt. However, she mentioned that she didn't have first-hand knowledge of the trucks.
Questioning then turned to Sen. Larry Means. Pouncy said in a meeting Means told her that he needed to raise around $400,000 for his re-election campaign and that if he voted for SB 380, his constituents would no longer support him. Means then allegedly asked Pouncy for $100,000. Pouncy told the court she's only ever been asked for amounts as high as $10,000 - $15,000. Never had she been asked for $100,000 in return for a vote. Pouncy told Means she would run it by Massey. Massey then called Ronnie Gilley. Pouncy told the court she could hear what Massey was saying to Gilley since they were in the same room. Massey told Gilley, Jennifer's gettin' shook down for $100,000 from Sen. Means." Pouncy was told to tell Means that "they," meaning Gilley, would give him the money. Pouncy told the court that she didn't go back to Means and report that afternoon because she knew what she was doing was wrong and illegal. She started crying and told the court she didn't want to do it at all. But, Pouncy testified that she went back the next morning and delivered the message. She said Means asked her, "Are we talking about the same thing?" Pouncy replied "Yes, I believe we're talking about the same thing." Following this conversation Pouncy told the court she had no additional contact with Sen. Means regarding SB 380.
When Pouncy was asked if the money was ever delivered to Preuitt or Means she said no.
"It was revealed...we were caught. I learned that the FBI was investigating." - Pouncy
When the FBI contacted her on March 31, 2010, she told them she didn't know of anything illegal going on. Pouncy told the court that she lied to authorities that day. The FBI warned her that she could be prosecuted. Pouncy told the court she lied because she was scared of losing her job. Pouncy told the court she was testifying in hopes the government would lessen her sentence and that she holds no grudge against Preuitt, Means, Walker or Coker and that her testimony is the truth to the best of her recollection.
The tone of questioning changed a great deal once the defense started cross examination. Susan James, attorney for Tom Coker, was up first. James used a series of rapid fire questions regarding her plea agreement.
"Mrs. Pouncy, I see you've been crying through some of these questions. Did you cry the day you were offered $100,000 to get 'yes' votes on SB 380? Did you turn it down?" - James
Pouncy said she was driving to the office on March 31, 2010 when she saw the FBI vehicles, she parked and a vehicle pulled right up behind her. They escorted her somewhere where they asked her about her involvement in allegedly offering bribes for votes on SB 380. Pouncy told the court the interview was very 'matter-of-fact' and she told the FBI that no senators had ever asked her for anything and that Massey did his own thing and if he was paying or bribing that she didn't know and didn't want to know about it. Pouncy told the court that she contacted a criminal lawyer a few days later.
Defense attorneys went to work trying to impeach Pouncy. James asked her if someone ever told her that she may not see her done for a decade. Pouncy said no. James found a passage where Pouncy testified and answered "yes" to that question in the previous trial. Pouncy told the court her highest calling in life was being a mother and given that, she'd remember if someone told her they were going to take her child away for a decade.
Pouncy told the court that Massey put her on paid leave from Mantra Governmental from March 31 to the end of June. The entire time she was receiving compensation from Massey she was working with the FBI. She thought she had worked out a deal with the government where she wouldn't face any jail time but learned that probation was taken off of the table. However, under her current agreement, rather than the 108-135 months she should face, she has a cap of 5 years for her potential punishment. Pouncy still hopes she won't have to go to prison.
Pouncy told the court that it was not uncommon for lobbyists to pay for polls for candidates like Jay Walker allegedly did for Preuitt; they're considered "in-kind" contributions. Pouncy also told the court that she was unaware that Jarrod Massey had been getting $270,000 a month from Ronnie Gilley for "enhanced services." Using that line of questioning, Susan James attempted to suggest that Gilley was ready to 'jump ship' on his dealing in Alabama (Gilley was meeting with the Mayor of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gaming Commission at the time).
Pouncy remembered when Massey made the comment about "selling" trucks instead of buying them on the tapes. She had to tell the court on Friday that she thought it was a mistake. Pouncy says Massey had been drinking that night and that wasn't uncommon then for him to drink.
Ron Wise, attorney for Sen. Preuitt, worked very hard to impeach Pouncy. Wise sought out inconsistencies in her testimony this trial compared to the trial over the summer.
Pouncy told Wise that she and prosecutor Edward Kang worked on trial prep together. They went over her testimony from the last trial topic-by-topic. Pouncy said there were "certain things I said under oath before that didn't seem accurate." She told the court Kang helped her work those out.
"You understand under the plea agreement that whether you tell the truth is up to the government...the same government that worked with you for 12-14 hours last week about things you said that didn't seem accurate." - Wise
During the previous trial Pouncy said she had contact with Preuitt regarding the bill two weeks prior to the BIR vote on March 3, 2010. This time she said she didn't contact Preuitt until the offer on either the 2nd or the 3rd. Pouncy originally told the FBI that she'd offered Preuitt the money prior to the first legislative day of that week which was March 2nd.
Pouncy told the court earlier that Preuitt changed the subject after she made the $2 million offer. During the last trial Pouncy said he acted like he hadn't heard her and she was worried she'd offended him. When asked today, Pouncy said she didn't remember saying that.
Wise asked her what was more embarrassing - offering Preuitt a $2 million bribe or having to tell Preuitt she may lose her job? Pouncy said telling Preuitt she may lose her job. During the last trial she said offering the bribe was more embarrassing. When that was pointed out to her she responded, "It's just embarrassing."
Pouncy told the court Preuitt never asked for money and never asked for anything for his campaign. She knew that Preuitt normally voted for gambling. She knew that Preuitt liked to let people vote on the issues. She knew Preuitt had a problem with the first bill. Pouncy agreed with the statement that Preuitt and Massey didn't tell her everything. Pouncy didn't know that when Gilley called Preuitt, the first words out of Preuitt's mouth were, "I don't want your money."
David McKnight, attorney for Tom Coker, was the final attorney to question Pouncy.
Pouncy told McKnight that she had no knowledge of any illegalities committed by Coker. In prior proceedings she never even mentioned Tom Coker, but she did mention Sen. Quinton Ross who was acquitted following the last trial.
Proceedings will start back up at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday. There is one "ten-minute" witness after Pouncy, then the court will hear from Ronnie Gilley.