The attorney for Brooklyn Assemb. William Boyland Jr. portrayed his client as a placating and passive manager Thursday during cross-examination of the politician's former top aide, suggesting she played a large role in the bribe scandal at the heart of her ex-boss' corruption trial.
"Basically, Mr. Boyland had a tendency to 'yes' people? Tell them what they wanted to hear?" defense attorney Peter Enrique Quijano asked Boyland's former chief of staff, Ryan Hermon, as a jury looked on in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
"I think he had a tendency to lie," Hermon replied.
The attorney suggested through his questions that Hermon had taken over some of Boyland's duties in dealing with an undercover FBI agent.
"It's you. There's no Boyland," the attorney told her.
"Wrong," Hermon replied.
Hermon, who was cross-examined by Quijano after three days as a government witness, said she pleaded guilty to taking bribes and faced 30 years in prison, but was cooperating with the government in hopes of a reduced sentence.
Hermon, 35, had testified that she acted as a go-between for Boyland in his dealings with the agent. The assemblyman proved so unreliable that she became the agent's "inside girl" and kept him informed of whether Boyland was keeping his promise to arrange a series of deals.
She said Boyland told her about a meeting he had with the agent at "a really nice" hotel suite in Atlantic City where, over bourbon and conversation about "different girls" they knew, he was promised $250,000 for his help in a real estate deal involving the former St. Mary's Hospital in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
Boyland was broke at the time, she said. His SUV had been repossessed for the third time, his home was in foreclosure, he owed on legal bills for other court cases, he was pleading with his parents to mortgage their home to help him, and he had asked his ex-wife to get money from her friends, Hermon testified. "The defendant was in need of the $250,000 and I was going to make sure he would get it," she said.
Quijano attempted to show that Boyland had done little if anything to move the schemes along, and cited tape recordings in which the agent complained to Hermon about Boyland, saying at one point: "He hasn't really come through with anything."
The defense attorney asked her whether she considered the two undercover FBI agents she dealt with "crooked businessmen" and she said they were like many people she dealt with.
"It just seemed like the same kind of people I'd met in the past," she said. "I did not understand them to be corrupt."