Two Charges Against Geddings Thrown Out After End Of Testimony
Posted October 10, 2006
RALEIGH, N.C. — A judge threw out two more fraud charges Tuesday against former lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings, ruling that the alleged crimes happened before Geddings was appointed to the commission and are not subject to the state's ethics rules.
Another fraud allegation against Geddings was dimisssed before the trial started.
Geddings, 42, still faces six counts of fraud related to his failure to reveal more than $250,000 in payments to his public relations firm between 2000 and 2005 from lottery systems maker Scientific Games Corp. and a company it later acquired.
Geddings on Tuesday concluded three days of testimony at his federal fraud trial after saying that he "was not as precise" as he should have been when he filed ethics forms with the state.
Still, Geddings again said he didn't believe he needed to account for any past business dealings on the form filed with the State Board of Ethics, only his active work.
On Tuesday, federal prosecutors introduced an alleged pay-to-play scenario involving Geddings and a $30,000 political contribution to a South Carolina pro-lottery group that Geddings founded. The donor testified Tuesday that his company paid the money even though it opposed the lottery.
Tull Gearreald told jurors he thought the contribution and additional payments to Kevin Geddings would help his prison healthcare company get the South Carolina governor's attention and might possibly lead to state contracts, describing it as "lottery cleanup expenses." Geddings had worked as that governor's chief of staff and helped win approval of the lottery in South Carolina.
Geddings contends that he had stopped working for Scientific Games before his appointment as one of the state's first lottery commissioners and therefore didn't have to disclose his past work for the company. Scientific Games was one of the companies vying for state's business after the approval of a state lottery last year. It lost out during the bid process to rival GTECH Holdings Corp.
Geddings said he agreed not to vote on any decisions related to the hiring of a lottery company to run the state's games.
"That to me was sort of a 'duh' thing," Geddings said.
Geddings was recommended for the commission by House Speaker Jim Black, and his defense opened last week with testimony from Black and Gov. Mike Easley.
Since his indictment, Geddings has moved from Charlotte to Florida, where he works at a St. Augustine radio station owned by his wife, Kris.
She testified Tuesday that her husband called her from a convention in Philadelphia on the night of Sept. 21, 2005, to tell her that Black had said he was considering Geddings for the lottery commission.
Kris Geddings said her husband told her Black knew about his past business relationship with Scientific Games and that it didn't seem important to the speaker.
Attorneys are expected to begin closing arguments in the case Wednesday.