Notes from the Zimmermann trial
Here’s the usual cautionary note from the author, Liz McLemore: despite the length and detail of these notes, I’m certain that I’ve missed portions of the testimony. I’d advise anyone interested in details to consult the tapes and transcripts once they’re released. These are notes, not transcripts.
Once again, I’ve inserted my comments within square brackets [ ] throughout the text.
Day 7: Tuesday, August 8, 2006
The day began as Zimmermann again took the stand in his own defense.
The defense attorney, Dan Scott, returned to the line of questioning he had ended with on Monday. Scott mentioned that Carlson had requested that his zoning agenda item be moved up, from July 14th to June 23rd, but the meeting took place as planned on July 14th. The item was placed on the consent agenda; since Zimmermann had arrived late, he was not present for the vote. Scott asked Zimmermann why he was late that day and why he didn’t make a motion to return to the item or discuss it; Zimmermann said he couldn’t remember why he was late, and he said he had no “coherent reason” to request that the Zoning and Planning committee return to the item for discussion.
Scott asked Zimmermann what happened a few days later, and Zimmermann said he told Carlson he didn’t have a plan [for what to do now that Carlson’s zoning request had been denied]; Zimmermann said he wasn’t completely blunt with Carlson on this point because he always tried “to let people down easy.”
On July 23rd, the full Council met and Zimmermann voted not to give Carlson his zoning (once again, the item was on the consent agenda). Scott asked him if he had spoken to Lilligren about the item, and Zimmermann said he had done so right before the meeting; Lilligren’s response, Zimmermann said, was to shrug (Zimmermann pointed out that Lilligren had denied on the witness stand that Zimmermann had spoken to him about the issue). Zimmermann said the vote effectively ended the issue; he said he could have gone to the mayor at that point, but he added that he wasn’t about to do that.
Scott then turned his questions to the meeting with Carlson at the Baja on June 14th. Scott asked him if he expected Carlson to come through with his donation to the redistricting suit; Zimmermann said “not really,” adding that only about 10% of people come through with their promises of donations to the campaign. In response to Scott’s questions, Zimmermann said he wasn’t expecting cash—“absolutely not”—but thought Carlson would give him a check. At some point Zimmermann said he counted the money, and it was $5000.
Zimmermann said that he told Tom Taylor about the money at a wedding a few days later; he also said he had tried to call Shoemaker. Scott said to Zimmermann, “so you were going to call others [about the donation],” but the prosecuting attorney objected to this question. The judge sustained the objection; Zimmermann then said he had called Leventhal and they discussed the money. Zimmermann told Leventhal he had spoken with Tom Taylor and Travis Lee, and they thought it was a good idea to hang onto the money in case there were court costs from the city. Zimmermann said Leventhal wasn’t happy that the “whole thing” [the entire $5000] wasn’t going to him to pay legal costs. The defense then asked Zimmermann if he intended to do anything with that money, and he said no; he said he stuck it in a file folder in his disheveled office. Scott asked him if he was planning to keep the cash until the lawsuit was over, and Zimmermann said no, adding that he was trying to keep it until there was a mechanism in place to pass it on (because FREE’s bank account was no longer in existence, he said, and Tom Taylor had told him to wait until Bruce Shoemaker returned).
Scott asked Zimmermann if he started using the cash, and Zimmermann acknowledged that he’d used it for “everyday” expenses. He said he had previously gone to the ATM for cash, but now he didn’t need to do so. Scott asked if he had made a determination to place $5000 back in the FREE account: Zimmermann said he planned to transfer his balance and then draw from a low-interest credit card account so he wouldn’t have to pay interest on the money for a year. Zimmermann explained that he almost always carries a balance over from month to month; he said when an offer came in around June 14th or 18th for no interest for a year, he used one of the credit card checks to write a check to FREE.
The defense then presented Exhibit 39, a promotional offer of 0% interest from the Bank of America; there were three checks on the Exhibit, and the third had been filled out. VOID was written on it in two places in Zimmermann’s handwriting; the date read “July 19th,” and the subject line mentioned Carlson’s name and the redistricting suit. When questioned, Zimmermann said he had written the check on July 19th.
The prosecuting attorney then spoke to Zimmermann, explaining that in criminal trials, the prosecution and defense share evidence. This particular piece of evidence, Exhibit 39, was presented to the prosecution at approximately 8:00am yesterday—after the government had rested its case. Zimmermann said he had just found the check at his house the previous weekend.
At this point, the judge dismissed the jury for a short time. Once the jury left the room, Docherty objected to the admissibility of Exhibit 39, saying it violated government Rule 16. He explained that Scott had given it to the
Judge Montgomery asked Docherty what forensic analysis he would have conducted, if he had received the documents in time. Docherty didn’t really answer; both the prosecution and the judge agreed that the authenticity of the handwriting wasn’t likely an issue.
Scott then replied to Docherty’s objection by explaining that Rule 16 simply says that when you get evidence, you turn it over; he said evidence could keep coming in, so discovery is the norm in criminal cases. He said the relevant issues were (1) when the party obtains the evidence; and (2) when they intend to use it. Scott said Zimmermann didn’t find the check until last Saturday—the defense thought it had been destroyed—and he had delivered it to Scott on Sunday. He said it was clear they’d seek its admissibility: even though it did not relate directly to what Zimmermann was charged with, he said it was important in terms of the “passion and prejudice” of the jury.
He went on to claim that the check itself should not make a difference in the case; the government had emphasized it [the issue of whether or not Zimmermann had attempted to give FREE the money] because they believed it might appeal to the jury, so Zimmermann kept searching for the check over the weekend. [The indictment was based on whether money was being given in exchange for city business.] Scott explained that the same situation applied to Exhibit 40, a set of Bank of America checks that included a copy of a check to Shoemaker for $6000 dated November 2005. He said it was not Rule 16 evidence until the government made a case, adding that it really wasn’t an issue until Bisswurm had testified on Friday.
Judge Montgomery overruled the prosecution’s objections and allowed for admissibility, arguing for the credibility of late discovery. She said the “remedy” outlined in Rule 16 wasn’t just exclusion of evidence, but part B of the remedy was to allow a full range of cross-examination [of Zimmermann], which she said she would permit.
At around 10:05 the jury returned and Scott continued his questioning of Zimmermann. The judge received Exhibit 39 as admissible evidence.
Scott projected the top part of Exhibit 39 on the screens for the jury. Zimmermann explained that he often received such credit card offers, and would sometimes write a check using them when the interest rate was sufficiently low (below 12 or 14%, as opposed to 20% interest). Zimmermann said he “saves this stuff,” adding that he saves all his records, but that they’re not exactly organized—just “generally” so. He said he keeps these records upstairs in his home office, in the bedroom, which has an “open design.”
Check numbers #6024 and #6025 were shown; the defense then showed #6026, the last check in the group: it was dated July 19th, 2005, and was addressed to FREE (the subject line at the bottom referred to a donation from Gary Carlson). VOID is written in two places, in blue ink.
Zimmermann said the check was never cashed; the offer was good only until August 31st, so the expiration date expired before the check was cashed. Check #6026 was a bit tattered, and it appeared to have been detached from the other two; when asked why it was not in “pristine condition,” Zimmermann said it was in the file. He then changed his mind and said no, it was in his billfold, adding that he had carried it around awhile to give to Tom Taylor when he saw him.
The defense attorney then pointed out that the check was a credit card check, indicating Zimmermann was moving credit around. He asked Zimmermann if he had written a check to Shoemaker for the money he had received from Carlson, and he said yes, but it was written after the FBI had searched the house and Shoemaker had returned to town. Scott asked Zimmermann if he had done the same thing [as he did with the previous check addressed to FREE], and he said yes.
The defense then presented Exhibit 40, a series of three Bank of America checks. Once again, this group was part of a promotional offer that expired in December 2005. Check #7208, at the top, was the one Zimmermann said he wrote to Shoemaker, dated November 16, 2005 (after the FBI search and the election). This check was addressed directly to Shoemaker for $6000 [Zimmermann explained that after 9/11, it was much harder to establish a new bank account for FREE]. Zimmermann explained that the $6,000 was to cover Carlson’s donations of $5000 and $1000. The subject line read “redistricting lawsuit fund.” Like the previous exhibit, Zimmermann said he had found this check over the weekend. [I’m not certain of this, but I vaguely remember this check as being a copy; if I remember correctly (and I may not), Shoemaker actually cashed the “real” check. Once again, I’d urge readers to consult a transcript for accuracy on this point.]
Scott then turned his questioning to the issue of the proposed new Somali mall, explaining that Carlson had taken Zimmermann’s suggestion and then said he’d help get the mall. It was Zimmermann, he said, who had first suggested the idea when he and Carlson met at the Baja. Carlson’s part, Zimmermann said, was to do the development with the idea that the Somalis would eventually own the mall themselves rather than him or Sabri. Carlson was trying to “sell” Zimmermann on the idea, saying the latter would look like a hero. Scott suggested the idea actually made sense, since alleviating traffic would make Zimmermann’s constituents happy.
Zimmermann said he shared ideas for a location with Carlson (Cedar Box, Sherman Associates, etc). Zimmermann didn’t take Carlson to see the Roof Depot location, but told him it was a big warehouse [I think they said it was an old Sears warehouse on 28th]. He said it was a better location than the Village Market because it wasn’t in a residential area (there were already two Somali markets in the 6th Ward: Karmel at
Scott then turned his attention to the $1200 Carlson gave Zimmermann in campaign envelopes bearing fake Somali names. Zimmermann explained that the envelopes were given to him almost as an afterthought, at the end of their meeting [I believe this occurred at the light rail station on August 15th]. Zimmermann said he assumed they were campaign donations, but he had no interest in looking at the names at the time; he said he didn’t really think about whether they were in Carlson’s name. Scott asked him when he had a chance to look at them; Zimmermann said he wasn’t sure, but he did eventually get around to it. He said he saw the cash, and some of the handwriting on the envelopes seemed to be the same, but one looked different. He said none of the envelopes bore Carlson’s name. Zimmermann said he “hung on to them,” adding that he didn’t want to give them to his treasurer until he was sure it wouldn’t require extra work for him [the treasurer, Dastych].
At the August 31st meeting at Zimmermann’s house to discuss the new mall, Carlson handed Zimmermann a campaign envelope. Zimmermann said he didn’t know what was in it, but he put the envelope (containing the money) on the table; he said he didn’t remember what Carlson had said the money was for. Zimmermann then said the FBI had played a tape of that meeting for him on September 8th, so he had had his memory refreshed about what Carlson had said. The tape, Zimmermann said, showed Carlson telling Zimmermann the money was from the Somalis he had spoken to (Zimmermann said he hadn’t remembered this detail when the FBI first confronted him). Zimmermann explained that in November, he had given the $1000 from Carlson to the redistricting suit, saying there was no name on the envelope when he had received it.
Scott then went back to the $1200 given to Zimmermann on August 15th: in response to questioning, Zimmermann asserted that the money was not given to him in exchange for anything he did or was going to do; he said the same was true of the $1000.
On September 8th, Zimmermann believed he would be attending a meeting between himself, Carlson, and the disgruntled merchants who wanted to explore the idea of a new Somali market. Scott asked Zimmermann if they had narrowed down the options to the Depot site, and Zimmermann said he wasn’t sure. Zimmermann said he was anxious to hear their stories first-hand; instead, Carlson was hustled off and no merchants arrived. Zimmermann said he didn’t expect the subsequent interview with the FBI.
In response to Scott’s questions, Zimmermann admitted he had at first lied to the FBI about receiving the $5000, saying he panicked and was caught by surprise. Scott asked if he was nervous at the time, and Zimmermann said yes. He said he wasn’t sure if the FBI had said at first that the $5000 was illegal. Zimmermann eventually told them about the $5000, agreeing that it “didn’t look good” that he had spent all of that cash. He said he didn’t think the money for the redistricting lawsuit was illegal at the time, and he didn’t think he got money in exchange for doing anything for Carlson. The FBI agents told him that Carlson had said he was giving the money in exchange for Zimmermann’s efforts; Zimmermann said he had insisted that neither the $5000 nor the $1000 had been given in exchange for anything he would do.
The court recessed for about 15 minutes.
When the jury returned, the prosecution began its cross-examination of Zimmermann.
Prosecution’s cross-examination of the witness, Gary Dean Zimmermann (defendant)
Docherty turned to the events of late 2005, saying Zimmermann had a number of different credit cards and owed about $38,000 [note: this may have been $35,000]—on a salary of $65,000 per year. Zimmermann asserted this was true, saying the City Council members’ salary was “more now.” Earlier in the year, in February, Zimmermann and his wife had bought property: they mortgaged their property on 17th “up to here” and used that to buy property in the new 6th Ward, which they then refinanced to buy another house. Docherty said they didn’t have much equity in any of them; in fact, in December of 2004, Zimmermann had had to borrow $10,000 from a friend (Zimmermann asserted this was true). Upon closing, Zimmermann borrowed another $8000; he said he didn’t remember the exact dates but thought he had given back the $10,000 by then.
Docherty asked if Zimmermann had received $1000 in cash on August 31st, and he said yes. He said the FBI tape showed that Zimmermann had put the money on the table and covered it up with a PDA [Zimmermann corrected him—or perhaps Docherty corrected himself--saying it was a cell phone]. Carlson told him, “you can fill in the name later,” and Zimmermann had said “ok.” Carlson had replied, “that’s for getting us that zoning.”
Docherty then showed a portion of the August 31st tape, with Carlson saying “one thing I’m going to need….[and later] that’s for getting us that zoning over there.” Zimmermann replied, “so…alright.”
Docherty then turned to the events of August 15th at the
Docherty then said, “Despite these reservations, you took another $1000 in another envelope—this time with no name, and you were told to fill in the name.” [Zimmermann did not contradict him.] Docherty then said something about the $1000 not being divisible by 300, the maximum amount allowed by law that an individual could contribute to a campaign. He said, “you know that’s the maximum,” and Zimmermann said yes. Docherty then said, “so if you were not surprised that the
The prosecuting attorney then asked him if the money was for the redistricting, and Zimmermann said “correct.” Docherty asked him if he had spent the whole $6000; Zimmermann said no, and Docherty explained that indeed the FBI agents had found $300 left in the envelope. He then asked Zimmermann if he was in the process of spending that $1000, and he said yes, he was spending the stash of cash. Docherty asked, “so when the $300 from that $1000 was gone, you were going to check on its legitimacy?” [I‘m afraid I didn’t record Zimmermann’s answer here.]
Docherty suggested that Zimmermann was in the middle of a campaign and therefore could have used the $1200. Zimmermann said yes, adding that although there was no cash flow problem [in the campaign] at that point, he could of course have used a legitimate campaign donation. The prosecutor then asked, “so for three weeks, there was no effort to check on the legitimacy [of that money]?” Zimmermann replied no, saying he didn’t bother Dastych about it.
Docherty continued to press Zimmermann about the $1200 on August 15th, saying that the purpose of that meeting was to look at sites for the alternate mall. He said the tape showed Carlson frequently bringing up business, talking about the zoning. Zimmermann said, “he babbled on and on, and I let him.” Docherty asked Zimmermann, “when Carlson asked whose Ward the Cedar Box company was in, you understood it was important to him [that the site be in Zimmermann’s ward]?” Zimmermann said yes, adding that it was easier to get a project through. The prosecutor then said something about that being because of “aldermanic courtesy,” and Zimmermann replied that although the Cedar Box company was in his Ward at the time, it was moved out under redistricting [so it wouldn’t stay in Ward 6].
The prosecutor then referred to the September 8th meeting with the FBI, where Zimmermann was interviewed for about two and a half hours. He reminded Zimmermann that the agents had asked if he needed anything to drink, or needed to use the bathroom, adding that he was free to leave at any time.
Docherty asked him about why he had lied at first to the FBI. Zimmermann said he was “panicked”; this panic was “transitory,” and he added that he later recovered his composure. He said he knew people to say untrue things when they were in a “state of panic.” Docherty asked him if people said such things deliberately. Zimmermann said, “well, when someone is panicked or perhaps if they were drunk,” they might say things that were not true. Docherty asked him what he meant by “drunk.” Zimmermann said he just meant that what people say when they’re not in their normal state of mind, for example, when they are drunk, might not be true. The prosecuting attorney then asked him, “you weren’t drunk?” and Zimmermann replied, “no, panicked.”
The prosecutor then asked Zimmermann what he thought a lie was, and Zimmermann said, “A lie would be something like your opening statement to the jury.” [I think the defense said something at this point, but I didn’t catch it.] A very angry prosecutor objected to Zimmermann’s statement, saying it was “argumentative and uncalled for.” The judge sustained his objection and asked Zimmermann to limit himself to answering the questions.
Docherty then displayed a portion of the transcript (page 9) of Zimmermann’s interview with the FBI. Zimmermann is cited as saying he told Carlson to send the money [the $5000] to Larry Leventhal, adding “that’s where it is.” The prosecutor said those were lies, weren’t they? Zimmermann replied by saying he had an incorrect memory, saying he had told other people to send money directly to Leventhal; he had just confused Carlson with someone else. Docherty stated, “so you weren’t panicked but confused.” Zimmermann said yes.
The prosecutor then asked Zimmermann if $5000 contributions to FREE were unusual. Zimmermann said they had received contributions in that amount a few times, but not often. Docherty then referred to the fact that Zimmermann had told the FBI that the money was at Leventhal’s, and Zimmermann said he wasn’t sure why he had said that. Zimmermann said the actual dollar bills weren’t there, but the money was tied up in his line of credit. Zimmermann said that when he had said “that’s where it is” to the FBI, what he meant was that’s where the money was going. At this point, Zimmermann said he needed to re-read the documents in front of him [I’m assuming these are the transcripts]; he also complained about the reflection of the lights in the courtroom.
Docherty projected page 19 of the transcript of Zimmermann’s interview with the FBI. Page 19 shows Agent Bisswurm asking Zimmermann where the $5000 is, and Zimmermann at first says he doesn’t know what $5000 he’s talking about. A bit later, Zimmermann says he knew, adding that Carlson had said he was going to contribute [to the campaign] but didn’t.
Docherty then asked Zimmermann about these statements; Zimmermann said he knew if he didn’t reveal much to the FBI, they’d show him another tape. Zimmermann explained that his lie was the result of panic, not a calculated lie. He then shot back at the prosecutor, “some people script their lies.” This time the prosecutor ignored Zimmermann’s comment and continued with his line of questioning.
Docherty said to Zimmermann, “so you lied when you said he [Carlson] hadn’t given the money to you…” Zimmermann said it was “not a white lie, a lie of kindness, but not a calculated lie, either.”
The prosecutor turned back to the portion of the transcript in which Zimmermann is quoted as saying to the FBI that he hadn’t seen that $5000. Docherty said to Zimmermann, “when asked, you said Carlson hadn’t given you the $5000.” Zimmermann explained that Carlson was contributing to the lawsuit through him [Zimmermann], so the money didn’t really go to Zimmermann.
Docherty showed page 20 of the FBI transcript, with Zimmermann saying he gave Carlson Leventhal’s name. Docherty asked, “you didn’t really give him Leventhal’s name, did you?” and Zimmermann repeated that he had confused Carlson with another contributor.
Docherty then displayed page 22 of the transcript: Agent Bisswurm is asking Zimmermann if he had received any other cash from Carlson. Zimmermann repeatedly says no. The prosecutor asked Zimmermann, “were you planning to hold out?” and Zimmermann said, “I wanted to see what they had.” Docherty then asked, “you did all this calculating while you were in a state of panic?” and Zimmermann answered yes. Docherty fired back at him, “when did it [the panic] pass?” Zimmermann said “it subsided.”
Docherty projected page 26 of the transcript. In the interview with the FBI, Zimmermann is quoted as saying he’s in the process of forwarding the money to Leventhal. The prosecuting attorney said, “after seeing the tape, you’re telling [the FBI] a different story.” Zimmermann explained that his line of reasoning was a little askew, and he admitted that at that point in the interview, he was telling part of the truth, that the money “existed.” The prosecutor said, “it was the videotape that did that.” Zimmermann explained that the money was at home in his desk, adding that what he had said wasn’t a lie in the sense that the money was tied up in bookkeeping and in his line of credit at home.
Docherty then said, “but the $5000 cash isn’t [in his desk at home at that point].” He continued, saying to Zimmermann, “if you spent cash at a convenience store, the money still exists—even though you’ve spent it.” Zimmermann said some of the cash was still there—a few hundred dollars and the envelopes [containing $1200]. He said the remaining cash was in a separate place; the $1200 was in his desk drawer, but the cash was in a different file folder under his desk table.
The prosecutor pointed out that Zimmermann had told the FBI that all $5000 in cash was in his desk drawer. Zimmermann admitted that the cash itself, the $5000, was not there. The prosecutor said, “so you meant that you could produced that money in a line of credit?” By way of example, Zimmermann said it was much like when you went to a restaurant with a bunch of people, and they gave you cash and checks and you put the entire bill on your credit card, put the cash in your pocket, and spent it. He said, “that’s what I was doing here; when the time came, I’d write a check.” Zimmermann added, “I said it was all there, in that I was prepared to pay the bill when it’s time to pay it.”
Zimmermann then said that “in retrospect,” it was true that he was confused when he said he told Carlson to send the money directly to Leventhal.
Docherty then referred to the $5000 at the Baja, the $1200 in envelopes at the light rail station, and the $1000 at Zimmermann’s home on August 31st. He said to Zimmermann, “you’d admitted to the $5000 and to the $1200 [by this point in the FBI interview]. Did the videotapes help you with your panic?” Zimmermann said he didn’t know, that he wasn’t a psychologist. The prosecutor then said “let’s look at the facts: before you saw the tape, you denied getting the $5000. But after the tape, you admit to it. So surprise, your panic is over. So then Agent Kukura asked if you’re sure there was no more money.” Zimmermann interjected, “that’s not what he asked me. You’re misconstruing what I said.” [I think Docherty objected to Zimmermann’s comment as argumentative; this time Judge Montgomery overruled the objection.]
The prosecutor then said Zimmermann had claimed to receive no money other than the $1200, then admitted to receiving the $5000 [remember, he’s reviewing the taped interview with the FBI]. Docherty showed a portion of the transcript again; the FBI agent is asking Zimmermann if “there’s any other money you want to admit to receiving?” Docherty asked Zimmermann to explain. Zimmermann replied, “Why would I want to admit to more? The agent is asking if there’s any money I want to admit to receiving, and I said no—I didn’t want to admit to receiving the $5000!”
The judge decided it was a good time for all of us to stretch a minute.
[I think at this point, the prosecutor said something about Zimmermann playing word games in order to dodge the truth.]
Docherty projected page 38 of the transcript. Bisswurm is asking Zimmermann, “so the $5000 is still in the drawer”? Zimmermann replies “um hmm.” [Zimmermann then said something about all $5000 being there, but I didn’t catch the wording.] Bisswurm then says, “I’m going to ask you if Carlson gave you any other money.” After seeing the tape [during the FBI interview], Zimmermann admits to receiving $1000 in envelopes with no name, saying that because there were no names, there was “nothing we could do with it.” Docherty played the tape showing Zimmermann putting his cell phone on top of the envelope containing $1000; right before this, Carlson had said, “that’s for getting us that zoning.”
Docherty continued showing the transcript of the FBI meeting, focusing on a section in which Zimmermann is saying the money is still at home. The prosecutor asked him what he meant. Zimmermann replied, “I could get the money using my credit card, borrow it from a friend—I have a business, so money goes in, money goes out.” The prosecutor says, “so you’re not talking about the 10 $100 bills you received on August 31st.”
The prosecutor continued showing the transcript of the FBI meeting. Bisswurm is asking Zimmermann, “is the money in the same desk as all the rest?” Zimmermann says “I think so, in a green envelope.” The prosecutor pointed out that the money wasn’t there—not the original $1000 in the green envelope—“that was spent.” Zimmermann said something about Carlson saying he’d get back to him about that [Carlson had told him to fill in the names himself, saying he’d get back to Zimmermann later].
At another point in the transcript, Bisswurm asks Zimmermann “is the $5000 all still there? The same $5000?” Zimmermann finally says no, adding that he guesses it’s been enrolled in his finances.
On the witness stand, Zimmermann explained how hard the idea [of what happened to the money] was to get across. The prosecutor reminded him that he had at first denied getting the $5000, then said it was all in his desk drawer. He said the agents weren’t “quick” because they “didn’t grasp that you weren’t referring to actual cash.” He then asked Zimmermann, “you lied to the agents during the interview, didn’t you?” Zimmermann replied “that’s correct.”
Docherty then asked him, “Didn’t you lie to the agents at least 10 times?” Zimmermann said he didn’t know, didn’t count. The prosecutor numbers them off for him: (1) Zimmermann said he had told Carlson to send the money to Leventhal; (2) He told the agents he didn’t know what $5000 they were talking about; (3) He said he gave Carlson Leventhal’s name; (4) He said he didn’t receive the $5000; (5) He said he got the $5000 but had sent it to Leventhal; (6) He said he had the money, and it was all at home; (7) He said it was enrolled in his finances. (At this point, Zimmermann interjected, “Which it was.”); (8) He said he hadn’t told Carlson he’d do anything for him. (Again, Zimmermann interjected, saying “that was not a lie”); (9) Zimmermann said that when he received the money at the Baja, he was surprised. [Either I missed one, or the prosecutor got around to discussing only 9.]
The prosecutor followed up on this last item, saying that eight days before, at the Black Forest, Carlson had said he was going to Florida until Monday, but he would meet Zimmermann then and get the money to him. Carlson called on June 14th and said he had the money to give to him, and then he did.
Docherty turned to Zimmermann on the witness stand and said, “you said you were surprised about getting the cash, but you didn’t hand it back or say you’d rather have a check; instead, you put the money in your pants pocket, got something out of your rucksack, and sat down. Carlson and you discussed zoning, parking problems, crime, and licensing issues—and the business at the Village Market?” Zimmermann said he didn’t know. Docherty said, “isn’t all of this official city business?” Zimmermann said these were all issues the developer had to deal with to get his project done. The prosecutor then replied, “but that wasn’t the first time. Aren’t people talking to you about these things because you’re on City Council?” Zimmermann said yes. The prosecutor continued, “you put the money in your pocket. Out of your backpack [he may have said “rucksack”], you got out an email from Heyer about zoning and gave it to Carlson.” Zimmermann said “he happened to throw me the envelope, but there’s no connection between the two.” When the prosecutor said something about Zimmermann putting the money in his pocket with one hand and pulling out the email with the other, Zimmermann corrected him, saying he thought he had performed both actions with the same hand.
Docherty then asked Zimmermann, “didn’t you and the attorney [Leventhal] discuss hanging onto the money to cover costs? The statute of limitations was not yet over on September 8th, 2005. Yet you told the FBI you were in the process of turning the money over to the lawyers.” He pointed out that there was a discrepancy in Zimmermann’s testimony. Docherty continued, “So once again, the agents just didn’t understand the precision of your language?”
The defense objected, and the judge overruled the objection.
At this point, the judge dismissed the jury until 1:30 for lunch.
After the jury returned from lunch, the prosecutor continued to cross-examine Zimmermann. He projected page 58 of the FBI transcript on the screen for the jury. FBI Agent Kukura is asking Zimmermann, “so no bills from your campaign were paid with the money?” Zimmermann says the money was put into a pool to pay the lawyer [I think he mentioned Leventhal’s name here].
Docherty then turned Zimmermann’s attention to events at the light rail station on August 15th. He mentioned that Zimmermann had claimed Carlson was “babbling on.” The prosecutor projected page 16 of the transcript of that meeting, where Carlson is saying “is it possible you could get zoning for that? [referring to the Somali mall] and Zimmermann replies, “yeah….I think it’s [zoned for?] retail.”
Docherty pointed out that while Zimmermann had claimed on the witness stand that Carlson was “babbling,” he thought the discussion was pretty focused. Zimmermann replied, “sometimes he was babbling, sometimes coherent.”
Docherty then showed Exhibit 39, the credit card check for $5000, and explained that the prosecution had just gotten the check yesterday at 8:00, after the prosecution had rested its case. Zimmermann assented, saying he had found the check on Saturday in his office, which was located on the second story of his house. The prosecutor asked him if there were other rooms [on that floor]. Zimmermann said yes, there was a bathroom, a dressing room, a laundry area, a utility room, a bedroom, and offices in the center. Zimmermann explained that he had found the checks in files containing credit card history which were kept in milk crates—on top of files there. The prosecutor asked him if the check had been in that location the whole time, but he had never looked there before. Zimmermann said no, he hadn’t. Docherty replied, “you know this $5000 is the basis for this charge, yet you don’t look for it until last weekend?” Zimmermann replied, “correct,” adding that he found it on Saturday. The prosecutor pointed out that the subject line read “Gary Carlson, donation,” then asked whether a $5000 donation to FREE would be noteworthy. Zimmermann said yes, that otherwise there would be no indication of what the check was for. Docherty pointed out that Zimmermann had also written [on the back?] something about the check being a $5000 donation from Gary Carlson. Zimmermann explained that it was like writing a note out on a check stub; since the check stub was missing, he had written the note there.
Docherty then asked Zimmermann, “so it was good for you to have this check turn up, especially on the day you would testify. When did you make out this check? Last weekend?” Zimmermann replied no, saying he wrote it on whatever date was on the check.
The prosecutor then said, “you told the FBI you were in the process of sending a check to Leventhal (when the time came).” Zimmermann said, “I thought I’d send it when there was a way for it to be received.” Docherty then said, “so you didn’t mean what your bare words indicated. Don’t you think that’s misleading?” Zimmermann said no, adding that he had voided the check and placed it near his desk in the office.
Docherty then referred to the ethics training Zimmermann had received on February 24th, 2004. He cited the section of the videotape about accepting things of value from people seeking zoning, as well as the part of the tape dealing with accepting meals. The prosecutor then referred to the Baja meal, asking Zimmermann if he had accepted $5000 in cash plus a meal. Zimmermann said they [he and Carlson] had split the bill. The prosecutor replied, “leaving three one-dollar bills on the table is splitting the bill?” Zimmermann said he left three bills, but he wasn’t sure if they were ones or fives. The prosecutor said “you left bills on the table because you were concerned?” Zimmermann replied that he wasn’t sure it was $3 he left, adding that he always paid his part of the bill, but he didn’t figure up the amount to the penny.
Docherty showed Government Exhibit 63, a photo showing the alley off
Docherty referred to Government Exhibit 1, dated August 22, 2003. He pointed out that there was no mention of a retaining wall in that agreement. Zimmermann said he wasn’t sure and had never seen the agreement. Docherty pointed out that Mayo had received $5000 at closing. He drew the jury’s attention to paragraph 2.5 on page 2 which mentioned the settlement. He then asked Zimmermann what the retaining wall would be worth--$2000-3000? Zimmermann said he had only heard the costs mentioned in this courtroom. The prosecutor then showed Exhibit 2, the email to Wetzel-Mastel, that said Mayo had no money to build her own wall.
Docherty then turned Zimmermann’s attention to the May 20th evening meeting at the Shriners. Zimmermann testified he had no memory of seeing Carlson that night, but he admitted he had seen the Ward card with his home number written at the top of it. Docherty asked him if he had written out the number for Carlson; Zimmermann said he wrote the number out at some point, but didn’t remember when.
Docherty once more brought up the
At this point Docherty replayed the audiotape for the jury. The prosecution told Zimmermann, “the actions you were going to take sound specific.” Docherty then asked, “Wasn’t it at the Shriners where you learned what this project was about?” Zimmermann said he didn’t know.
Docherty then brought up the issue of cousins, playing the audiotape from the
Later in the tape we hear Zimmermann say “you want to do more, that’s fine,” explaining that although the limit is $300 per person or $600 per couple, Carlson could get a cousin or something to donate, or “give in his name.” Carlson says yeah, you got it, I’ve got several of them [cousins], and he and Zimmermann laugh.
The prosecutor then turns to Zimmermann and asks, “Refresh your memory?” Zimmermann replied that he had suggested that Carlson talk to his family. The prosecutor mentions more talk of cousins and plays a portion of the tape from the Baja. We hear Carlson referring to someone as a “loose cannon” and saying that “we need you to be our Council Member”; shortly after that, Carlson refers to cousins and asks Zimmermann, “how do I do that? You can’t get elected on $300.” Carlson says something about Zimmermann’s Ward being a poor Ward and asking again, “how do I do it?” Carlson says something about the phone book, and Zimmermann suggests he donate cash because “nobody knows or cares.” He then suggested that Carlson write a check to someone for $350 and then have that person write a check to Zimmermann for $300.
The prosecution turned to Zimmermann on the witness stand and said, “you’re suggesting Carlson give people money…the donation is from Carlson, but it’s in someone else’s name.” Docherty continues to play the tape, and we hear Zimmermann say, “just don’t tell me about it.” Docherty then said something about Carlson telling Zimmermann not to tell Azzam about the money. [On tape, Zimmermann had said he wouldn’t say a word.] The prosecutor said, “you consider cash to be sensitive.” Zimmermann said he agreed to be quiet because he thought Carlson didn’t want Azzam to know because Azzam was Carlson’s business partner. Docherty then said, “but the FBI aren’t your business partners, yet you denied receiving the money to them.”
At this point the defense objected, and the judge overruled the objection.
Docherty then turned to the August 3rd meeting at the Chicago Commons sales office, where Carlson had asked why his zoning hadn’t changed even though he had donated $5000. Zimmermann said he didn’t recall that part, so Docherty played the tape for him. We hear Carlson say, “we did the $5000…I know you tried, but you got no support…What happened?” The prosecution pointed out to Zimmermann that he had never tried to disabuse Carlson of the notion that there was a connection between the money Carlson had given him and the zoning Carlson wanted. At no point, he said, did Zimmermann ever tell Carlson that the zoning and the $5000 weren’t related. Docherty asked Zimmermann, “you never say Carlson is mistaken about the connection between the two. The context, with the $5000, didn’t matter?” Zimmermann said he often ignored discussions about money. The prosecution shot back, “when you took the money, were you ignoring it then?” Zimmermann said he didn’t see the link. Zimmermann then said there was no discussion of the $1000, but he acknowledged that at some point Carlson did say “this is for getting the zoning,” adding, “or I believe that’s what he said.”
The prosecution then brought up the issue of the “straw man” candidate, James Gorham. Zimmermann said he didn’t know if Gorham was a campaign worker when he signed up as a candidate. Zimmermann acknowledged that Gorham helped the Zimmermann campaign take people to the polls. The prosecution pointed out that Gorham was not returning calls at that time, so he wasn’t running an active campaign. He reminded Zimmermann that the latter had told Carlson [on tape] that Gorham was a straw man.
Docherty then turned the discussion to whether Zimmermann had actually talked to anyone about Carlson’s zoning. Zimmermann said he was told by Schiff that C2 zoning wasn’t going to help Carlson. From that point, Zimmermann said, he believed Carlson’s zoning request had little or no hope of getting passed. On June 15th, after the Baja meeting, Zimmermann had a conversation with Carlson about Collins’s research: he pointed out that it was the first time Zimmermann had worked on Carlson’s issue. [I think the prosecution is pointing out here that Zimmermann wasn’t motivated to work on Carlson’s issue until after he had received the $5000 from Carlson.]
The judge dismissed the jury for a short recess.
Once the jury returned to the courtroom, the prosecutor turned the discussion back to the
In response to Docherty’s questions, Zimmermann said he didn’t want to admit to the agents that he had received $5000 and $1000. The prosecutor said, “there’s nothing shameful about raising money for a lawsuit.” Zimmermann said, “it looked like something it wasn’t, and I had pretty much spent all of it.” The prosecution suggested Zimmermann didn’t want to admit it because it was “dirty money.” Zimmermann replied, “no, I didn’t want to talk to the FBI at all.” The prosecutor reminded him that the agents had begun the interview by telling him he was free to leave at any time.
Zimmermann was then turned over to the defense for follow-up questioning. Scott asked about the discussion with Docherty that had occurred about 10 or 15 minutes before the break. At that time, Docherty had asked Zimmermann about the money and his memory of it. Scott asked Zimmermann, “you needed your memory jogged about the fundraiser?” and Zimmermann replied “correct.” Scott presented Exhibit 16 and showed the transcript of the
Scott stopped the tape and turned to Zimmermann, saying that the prosecutor had reminded him that on June 15th, during a phone call, he said he had spoken to Schiff about the zoning. On June 16th, Carlson had sent an email about the businesses he wanted; Zimmermann and Collins’s notes were on the email (written on or after that date). Scott pointed out that Zimmermann was in fact working on the zoning issue, and that he came to the conclusion after that that he couldn’t get the zoning unless new information turned up.
Scott then showed Exhibit 39, the credit card check for $5000 to FREE dated July 19th, 2005. Zimmermann had said he showed the check to Tom Taylor that summer; it was in existence before Tom came over to Zimmermann’s house. Zimmermann again explained that he had found the check last Saturday; he hadn’t looked for it before that but did so then. Scott asked him if he had been encouraged to look for it, and he said Scott didn’t encourage him, adding that the issue for the lawyers was how he got the $5000, not what he did with it.
Scott then showed Exhibit 40, saying that was also why the fact that the check for $6000 was written six months later wasn’t really relevant. Zimmermann said no, it wasn’t [relevant].
Scott turned Zimmermann’s attention to the meeting at his house on August 31st, when Carlson had given him an envelope containing $1000 in cash and when Carlson had mentioned zoning. Scott asked Zimmermann if the discussion was about zoning or the new Somali mall. Zimmermann said the mall. Scott asked him, “when you got the $1200—what was the purpose of the meeting that day?” Zimmermann said he thought it was the Somali Mall. Scott then asked him, “Did you think either contribution had anything to do with your actions?” Zimmermann said “no, nothing.”
The prosecutor then returned to ask Zimmermann a few more questions. He began by saying, “[Defense attorney] Scott asked if you were able to get what Carlson wanted. By June 15th or 16th, you had come to the conclusion that you weren’t.” Zimmermann said he didn’t think the zoning Carlson wanted would actually get Carlson what he wanted. Docherty said, “you never told Carlson that unless something new came up, you couldn’t help him. You told Carlson that you’d spoken with every Zoning and Planning member, you said you’d checked with
Both the defense and the prosecution announced they had completed their questioning of Zimmermann. He left the stand and the defense called Agent Bisswurm to testify.
Seventeenth witness (called by the defense): Timothy J. Bisswurm
Scott began his questioning by referring to Bisswurm as “Mr.,” then corrected himself and called him “Agent.” He asked Bisswurm if he was one of the people who had handled the evidence in this case, and Bisswurm said yes. Scott then played a tape: it was the voicemail from Zimmermann to Carlson, admitted as Exhibit 41. The voicemail came from Carlson’s phone [cellphone?] on Friday, May 27th; the time for the message was given as 3:17pm; the agent said he pulled the message off Carlson’s machine at around 1:45pm on June 1st. Scott played the tape for the jury. We hear Zimmermann’s voice saying “I don’t know how I can help you [at
The defense rested its case and the judge dismissed the jury for a 15 minute recess.
While the jury was recessed, the attorneys conferred privately with the judge. [sorry, folks, I wasn’t privy to that discussion]
The jury was summoned. Once all members of the jury were seated in the courtroom, Docherty said he had no further evidence. Judge Montgomery announced that the evidentiary phase of the trial was concluded.
The jury was dismissed until 9:30 Wednesday morning, August 9th, 2006.
Once the jury had left, Scott announced that the defense had nothing to add to the trial. He said he wanted to renew Rule 29; Judge Montgomery said she was maintaining the same ruling she had previously, adding that the conditions [for dismissal] were not met.
The attorneys and judge left the courtroom and the trial recessed until 9:30 the next morning.