Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nelson Has His Say in Court Trial; Jurors Weren't Present When He Took Stand in His Federal Corruption Case

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nelson Has His Say in Court Trial; Jurors Weren't Present When He Took Stand in His Federal Corruption Case

Article excerpt

Byline: Bridget Murphy

Former JaxPort Chairman Tony Nelson testified in the federal government's corruption case against him Thursday but only while jurors weren't present.

Nelson's time on the witness stand only concerned a 2007 interaction he had with City Hall attorney Cindy Laquidara, which he said he believed was private.

However, U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan decided Nelson's exchange with Laquidara, now the city's general counsel, wasn't privileged because Nelson expected she would share her opinion in an email after he sought her advice.

"I sent the email so that the email would show that in my legal opinion Mr. Nelson didn't have a problem," Laquidara testified.

The judge's decision came after Assistant U.S. Attorney Mac Heavener said the government's view was that Nelson was trying to use the attorney to short-circuit a port ethics investigation.

Corrigan also considered testimony from former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney and city attorney Steve Rohan, whose opinion of when communications between board members and city lawyers are private seemed to differ from Laquidara's.

The same day Laquidara sent the email, port officials assigned ethics officer Linda Williams to look into whether Nelson had a business relationship with Subaqueous Services. Williams testified that she recorded an interview with Nelson five days later, when he denied getting money from the dredging company.

"I have never received a dollar, a penny or a nickel from Subaqueous Services and or its owner," Nelson said.

MULTIPLE CHARGES

The government claims Nelson got about $150,000 in bribes from Subaqueous' owner Lance Young for help with port business from 2006 to 2008. Besides bribery, Nelson faces charges of money laundering, mail fraud, conspiracy, and lying to the FBI. …

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