Testimony resumes in corruption trial involving Eversole

March 14, 2011 3:31:43 PM PDT
Testimony resumed Monday in the trial of Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole. He's accused of taking cash and gifts in exchange for contracts worth millions of dollars. Eversole is facing decades in prison, so he has a lot at stake in this trial. But he may feel OK -- at least at the start of this week -- because federal investigators have not been able to connect him to the deals they allege were crooked.

Not to be too cliche, but the skies over the federal courthouse and the emerging case against Eversole inside were both a little cloudy today.

Eversole is on trial for bribery and conspiracy. Federal prosecutors say he traded county contracts for thousands of dollars in gifts and cash from real estate developer Mike Surface.

Monday, employees of Surface's companies testified about the deals to build and lease county office space.

Surface created separate companies for each of the county contracts. Government prosecutors suggest it was to hide his involvement.

On cross examination, witnesses admitted to Eversole's lawyer -- Rusty Hardin -- that such practice is standard in the industry.

"We're in day three or four and there's been nothing to connect the commissioner with anything, and what's been testistified to, everybody has agreed was perfectly appropriate and proper standard operating procedure," Hardin said.

The difficulty in this case will always be linking criminal activity to Eversole and Surface. The men were friends. Surface did give to the commissioner generously, and the commissioner voted for Surface's contracts.

But proof the men had a crooked deal hasn't been shown yet.

"This building is still designed to try people based on evidence, not what someone thinks may be," Hardin said.

Trials -- especially white collar federal trials -- unroll themselves slowly. In order to prove the deals may have been crooked, they first have to show the deals were made.