Vacations under scrutiny in Eversole trial

March 21, 2011 3:44:42 PM PDT
The bribery trial of Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole continued Monday as the FBI detailed years of trips paid for by Mike Surface. But the big question was: Were these bribes to Eversole or, as the defense calls them, just trips with three amigos?

As Eversole walked into the federal court house for the third week of his trial Monday, his attorney Rusty Hardin sounded upbeat.

"How do you think it's going so far?" we asked.

"I like it," Hardin said.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys spent most of the day questioning an FBI financial analyst over the trips that Eversole, Surface and architect Leroy Hermes took between 2002 and 2008.

There were the the numerous golf outings to places like Canyon Springs in San Antonio or Waterwood in Huntsville. There were also trips to ranches in New Mexico, Arizona and even a trip to Las Vegas where the group stayed at the Mirage Hotel.

Prosecutors are trying to show that Surface paid for Eversole's costs the overwhelming majority of the time during these trips in exchange for his votes on county contracts.

But defense attorneys contend the trips were merely vacations among friends, pointing out they often stayed at modest places like the Econo Lodge. Hardin called the outings among Eversole, Surface and Hermes "trips with the three amigos" -- either golfing, or trips to cowboy country for what Hardin says were "city slickers" to have some fun.

We expect prosecution to wrap up its side of the case in the next day or two, after which defense will present its witnesses. We believe one of the first witnesses will be Eversole's wife to testify on behalf of her husband.