Trial of two Monroe City Councilmen continues - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; |

Trial of two Monroe City Councilmen continues

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Story by: Samantha Boatman

MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News)--The trial of two Monroe City Councilmen continued Monday with questions by the prosecution and defense attorneys.

Robert "Red" Stevens and Arthur Gilmore were indicted last summer on charges of public bribery and extortion.

The trial continued today with the prosecution's key witness, Eddie Hakim. Hakim had been working with the FBI in the case against Stevens and Gilmore since 2007.  On Friday, tape recordings and video recordings between Hakim, Stevens and Gilmore were played for the jury.

On Monday, the prosecution finished their questioning of Hakim. Hakim told the jury that Gilmore called him asking for about 200 dollars to help pay a constituent's electric bill. The tape recording of this conversation played for the jury.

Hakim told jurors he had helped Gilmore many times with money for constituents.

A voicemail to Hakim left by Stevens played for the jury.  Stevens called Hakim asking about a donation he could make in regards to turkeys for the community. 

Their later conversation recorded by the FBI, says that Eddie Hakim thanked Stevens for helping with the zoning of the Tower Armand project. The land was re-zoned from open land, to residential and commercial use.

A few days later, the two met for lunch at the Brandy House, where Hakim allegedly gave Steven's an envelope containing a thousand dollars, and called it his "Christmas bonus."

Hakim then told the jury the last secret recording between the three men occurred on December 18, 2009.

Once the prosecution was finished with their questions, it was time for Robert Red Steven's attorney, Carey Underwood to question Hakim.

Hakim told the jury that in late 2006 and 2007, he would give money to Jim Maroney, an engineer to his company, to give to the councilmen and Mayor Mayo.  When Maroney died, Hakim says he started giving the money out himself.

He says at that point, he didn't mind helping out because he knew his contributions were not being used in exchange for votes.

Hakim told the jury prior to him contacting Louisiana State Police, he never thought the contributions were in exchange for votes.

Hakim also told the jury Monday, he believes he never broke the law, and he chose to do the right thing by going to police.

Hakim talked about five cash payments he made to Stevens: $1,000 to Steven's re-election, $500 for Steven's trip to D.C., $800 for Christmas Turkeys, $3,000 for his daughter's hospital bills, and $1,000 for a Christmas bonus.

Hakim says he doesn't mind making payments to those in need, but says nothing should be expected in return.

Underwood, Steven's attorney, then questioned Hakim about previous donations he's made to different organizations. Hakim told the jury he has given at least $100,000 donation to The University of Louisiana Monroe, and $125,000 to his church. Hakim also says he's donated money to the Monroe Police Department, the Sheriff's Department, and the ULM Police Department.

Hakim told the jury he hasn't made a large amount of political contributions.

Underwood then questioned Hakim about Hakim's contributions to Sheriff Royce Toney. Hakim says he has put about $45,000 worth of renovations into this Toney's work office. He says Toney's desk is also currently on loan from Hakim's company.

Under one of Hakim's real estate companies, he says he sold the Sheriff's Office land for $188,000, which was originally appraised at $600,000.

Hakim told the jury he considers Sheriff Toney a friend.

Underwood then brought evidence into the courtroom, from a letter to the editor written by Hakim.  Hakim wrote that he gave to people, and never expected anything in return.

Hakim then told the court room under oath, that people have to pay off Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo to get favors.  Hakim says he knows people who have paid off Mayo in return for favors, but admitted he had never done it.

The defense continued to ask questions, counteracting the prosecution's case against the two councilmen.  The defense questions of Hakim will continue Tuesday.

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