In addition to talking about how to get government jobs in corrupt Broward County, Fitzroy Salesman and the undercover agents spoke of plane mishaps, parking tickets, driving school, sex, and a "camel toe contest" between beauty pageant contestants (including Miss Canada), according to trial testimony yesterday.
One of Salesman's defense attorneys, Daniel Aaronson, hammered away at the small talk yesterday as he cross-examined FBI agent Patrick Wren, who went undercover in the investigation as a construction contractor looking for government business.
"He would joke about his sex life," Wren told Aaronson about Salesman.
"You would joke about your own sex lives?" Aaronson asked Wren.
"There was a lot of banter," Wren said.
"Were there times you and [undercover FBI operative Patrick Lochrie] brought up sex talk
before Mr. Salesman did?" Aaronson asked the agent.
And so it went. Even as revelations about Salesman talking about a "pay to play" culture came across on FBI tapes, even as it was revealed he took cash for introducing agents to his political friends, the defense tried to keep the jury focused on the little things, the small talk. It's all part of its entrapment-defense strategy, trying to show that FBI agents tried to become friends with Salesman so they could persuade him to take bribe -- or consulting, according to Salesman -- money.
Aaronson, with his law partner Jamie Benjamin beside him, brought up Lochrie's sweeping stories about the Irishman's world travels. The lawyer
honed homed in on Lochrie's stories about Iran, where the independent operative, who is reportedly in Dubai right now, talked about women there. He told Salesman that while sex was illegal there out of wedlock, all you had to do was say "I marry you" three times to a woman, have sex with her, and then say "I divorce you" three times in the morning to be done with it.
For the defense, these stories are meant not only to indicate entrapment but also to embarrass the government. And it's beginning to look like Aaronson and Benjamin are going to want to go over hours of this stuff.
After the day's testimony was over and the jury was out of the room, federal prosecutor Jeffrey Kaplan told Judge James Cohn that he too could pull out plenty of sexual comments made by Salesman. "We can show all the off-color things that Mr. Salesman did," he said. "It's a mutual thing."
Of course it is. Any undercover agent will tell you that the nature of the conversation usually originates from the target. They will say what they have to say to get the target comfortable enough with them to trust them. If the target drinks Diet Coke and hangs out at McDonald's, the agents will drink Diet Coke and hang out at McDonald's. If the target is a holy roller, the agents generally won't talk about how to score chicks in Iran. It's that simple. Agents learned from the original witness in the case, gang member Alden "Alpo" Budhoo, that Salesman tried to procure prostitutes, according to federal records. And the agents saw for themselves that Salesman was preoccupied, maybe even more than most men, with the opposite sex. So the "off-color" talk is a reflection of Salesman's personality, according to the government.
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After the day's testimony, Salesman seemed calm, cool, and collected as he walked out of the federal courthouse toward Broward Boulevard. I asked him how he was holding up during the trial, which has already lasted a week and looks like it will go at the very least through the end of this week.
"I'm good," Salesman told me. "Let the evidence fall where it may... We still have a long way to go."
-- A lot of people are wondering why it's taking the feds so long to make more arrests in the Scott Rothstein case.
Well, one reason is that the federal government is ridiculously slow. Period. Another reason is tied to this Salesman trial. Understand that Kaplan is a key prosecutor in the Rothstein investigation (along with Larry LaVecchio and Paul Schwartz). Obviously, Kaplan is preoccupied with the Salesman trial right now, so he can't focus on the Ponzi schemer. And so things continue to go very, very, very slowly.