Sunday, February 5, 2017

Ben Allen Trial Update: "You are confused"

The trial of Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen will enter its second week tomorrow.  Here are the updates on Friday's proceedings.

Othor Cain provided this report on Friday's courtroom drama on his Facebook page:

Robert L. Gibbs just said to Robert are CONFUSED and I hope you're not confusing this jury.

Smith has asked five times in as many ways, how much Gibbs makes as DJPs attorney. And, five times Gibbs answered $1K a month!

Finally, Gibbs said, "no matter how you add it or calculate it, I don't get paid by the hour, I make $1K a month no matter how many hours nor how much work I do."

It is now time for The Battle of the Roberts! Smith begins cross examination of Gibbs.

Meanwhile, Jerry Mitchell provided these updates on Twitter
Not looking good for prosecution in . Wouldn't surprise me if the jury acquits Allen of all charges.

and in his Clarion-Ledger story:
The attorney for Downtown Jackson Partners testified Friday that he investigated the embezzlement charges in the indictment against the nonprofit’s president, Ben Allen, and found no reason to remove him.

The Partners board concluded that Allen “did not embezzle or convert to his own use” and committed no crime against the Partners, board attorney Robert L. Gibbs of Jackson testified.

The trial, which entered its fifth day Friday, resumes at 9 a.m. Monday in Hinds County Circuit Court.

The indictment against Allen says a 1988 Chevy Silverado became Allen’s three years after the Partners purchased it for $3,500 in 2007.

nder questioning by defense attorney Merrida Coxwell Jr., Gibbs testified the Partners knew Allen did this to save money on insurance.

As for a cellphone bill that Allen’s wife was included on, which was mentioned in the indictment, Gibbs said Allen reimbursed the Partners for that expense.

Gibbs said the board knew Allen was charging expenses for the Partners to his personal credit card and was reimbursed after submitting receipts.

The indictment lists $86,000 the Partners collected from a variety of businesses, including banks and law firms to help pay for Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber's Inauguration Gala in 2014. “Not a dime of Downtown Jackson Partners went to the gala,” Gibbs said.

He disputed the embezzlement allegation against Allen in the indictment related to the gala.

Allen didn’t get any of that money or any of the Partners’ sponsorships, Gibbs said.

Contributions to the gala were not political contributions, he said. “They were not made to a political candidate or a political party.”

Asked by District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith if the gala contributions were accounted for, Gibbs replied, “I know this money was accounted for.”

The indictment accuses Allen of directing $65,745 into a “fraudulent Business Incubator Program.”

The Venture Incubator, which the Partners supported, was a good one aimed at helping new businesses start, said Gibbs, who served on the Venture board.

The incubator failed because “we weren’t able to raise enough funds,” he said.

“Anything fraudulent about the incubator project?” Coxwell asked.

“No,” Gibbs replied.

In opening statements, Smith said that Allen had used Partners’ money to buy his son a Whirlpool refrigerator.

Gibbs said he found that allegation to be untrue. The defense has entered a receipt for Whirlpool parts that was identified as being used for a Partners' refrigerator.

In addition, Gibbs concluded the money collected by the nonprofit is private, not public.

Prosecutors claim Allen embezzled public funds while defense lawyers claim these are private funds and that Allen embezzled nothing.

“Is the money public in any way?” Coxwell asked.

“It is not,” replied Gibbs, sitting in the same courtroom where he once served as a circuit judge.

The Partners oversee the 66-block Business Improvement District, formed by those property owners through the Mississippi Legislature. The owners pay a “voluntary tax” to the Partners, based on square footage.

A lawyer for the state attorney general’s office concluded it was public money.

That conclusion allowed the state auditor’s office to investigate the Partners.

Gibbs, who once served as Mississippi's deputy attorney general, said he believes that opinion was wrong and that U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee was right in concluding the money collected for the Partners was an assessment, rather than a tax.

He said he researched attorney general’s office opinions, which he said concluded that even if a private entity received public money, that money becomes private.

Smith had Gibbs read from an audit firm’s report, which said there were “no controls in place” to control how much Allen spent and that the Partners was charged for expenses “without proper supporting documentation.”

The auditing firm is pointing out “deficiencies,” Gibbs said. “It’s not saying there’s anything wrong. … There is an invoice to match every check.”

Kingfish note: Methinks Melissa Patterson is not going to be looking too good when this trial is over regardless of the verdict.  


Anonymous said...

Good Lord this is ridiculous. I can't believe Smith is actually putting Allen though this farce. He should be tied up and shot.

$JustSaying said...

I keep seeing the tax assessment not called a tax but i have talked to a couple of downtown business owners and they were given no choice by the tax collector.

Anonymous said...

RSS again showing his irrational obsessions. Crazy. Same thing that got him in trouble with the AG's office who did not understand he is not a criminal, just crazy.

Anonymous said...

multi count indictment best friend of government. Allen needs to hope for an appeal...

Anonymous said...

Keep typing Linda. Keep typing. You will have plenty of time soon to blog all you want to, and free meals to boot.

Anonymous said...

Is this whole thing going to wind up being about an antique truck used to beautify downtown? Good grief. Just really don't care if it is an assessment or a tax. DJP has done some good things for Jackson and it has provided some stability during trying times. So, Ben Allen is not a bookkeeper; so what? Shoeboxes for storage and a woman who had worked past her time and got sour. The Mayor's Gala was done in high-style and lacked nothing. DJP did not pay for the Gala and I just don't believe Allen pocketed any money from this event. Won't believe until someone brings forward evidence other than Brune.

Anonymous said...

8:02 the only evidence she Brune can bring forward is evidence that she didn't steal from DJP. DR Quon done.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above comments that some dumb decisions were made, but at no time do I think Ben Allen broke any law.

While I'm typing about my hometown, please allow me to say this:

I really hope the Mississippi Legislature passes the Capitol District “take over” law.

( Note to the low information crowd: this is separate from the Airport "take over" legislation.)

At least North State,High & Fortification Streets along with Lakeland Drive from Saint D to Old Canton will be maintained.

As far as the sex obsessed work environments of The City of Jackson along with Hinds County , I’ve basically been told to shrug it off . . . it’s "just the culture”.

“Culture" they said.

Anonymous said...

Who is the puppet master?

Kingfish said...

I didn't approve your two comments because they had nothing to do with the subject of the post.

Anonymous said...

Very poorly run organization that are doing some very wrong things for the benefit of a very few people.But no laws have been broken ; just bent. All the is a waste of time and money.

Anonymous said...

8:56 AM, tell us more about what that means.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Allen is a crook or just don't know what he is doing. I an leaning to the crook side. Like some people like him, he doesn't think it is against the law when he does it or it is always the fault of someone else. Either way he should have never been in that position in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Well, thank goodness, 11:14, that you are not on the jury, as you are judging from "some people like him". And what are your qualifications to state that he should never have been in the position? As a former city councilman and an enthusiastic sales personality, he seemed to be the perfect choice, and aside from trusting Ms Brune, has actually done a pretty decent job.

Anonymous said...

12:04, all you have to do is be able to read. Just about everything he is charged of doing he has done. The only reason he is not in jail is the people in his little group all say we know what he did but we think he should be allowed to get away with it.

Anonymous said...

12:25 You may not like it, but if Ben Allen was honest with his Board, and they approved his reimbursements or the transfer to him of an old truck not worth the cost of insuring, then he has not embezzled anything nor broken any criminal statute. If is the criminal statutes that matter, not whether you subjectively think he "got away with something" (you ain't the law), or if the money could have been handled under better practices (it could have been), or negligence in bookkeeping and reimbursement practices (they have since been reformed by his board).

Anonymous said...

3:09, why not just face the facts. Allen is a crook and not a very smart one at that. Really sounds like the rest of the board is not that honest either. Really can't expect much, it is Jackson. Most of the leaders are crooked or dumb as a rock. Many are both.

Anonymous said...

Old OLD troll at 3:22. Take your meaningless life and opinions to your preacher, but f you have one.

Anonymous said...

Is the board of DJP personally accountable for any misuse of funds? Who are the board members? If they are business leaders, owners, and bankers how could they not have proper controls per the audit findings? Seems to be a close group of members who are serving on the board for notoriety/personal gain instead of accountability.

Anonymous said...

This is very sloppy accounting practices which one expects in household budgets so maybe the jury are ignorant about how accounting should be done.
I find the public vs private legal rulings interesting. It seems to me that anytime any citizen or business is required to give money to an organization of any kind, that the monies should be regarded as public and there should be good accounting controls required as well.
Historically, "venture capital" schemes are risky business whether it was Magnolia Venture or the Meat Packing plant, citizens should be forced to " invest", assume the risk , and get no reward if it's successful. If the " venture" is sound, then getting private investors is not a problem.

Anonymous said...

Ben Allen makes 150 K annually. He lives way above his means. He had a shoe store. Sorry, doesn't add up

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