Jurors watch secret video tapes - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Jurors watch secret video tapes

June 8, 2005

Albany--- A man accusing Henry Mathis of extortion denies working with a former city commissioner to frame Mathis.

On day three of Mathis's federal trial, jurors saw video tapes showing Mathis taking what appears to be money from businessman Joe McDonald. The defense tried to show Joe McDonald conspired with former commissioner David Williams to hurt Mathis. McDonald testified he didn't.

Wednesday, jurors watched and heard several video and audio recordings. In one, you could clearly see Henry Mathis taking money from Joe McDonald. But, Mathis never said exactly what the money was for, despite probing by McDonald, who was working with the GBI to catch Mathis in an extortion scheme.

Henry Mathis sat expressionless throughout most of the third day of questioning in the federal extortion trial. Defense Attorney Rick Collum tried to break apart Joe McDonald'S testimony that Mathis intimidated McDonald into giving money to get and keep a beer license for Old Roadmasters Motorcycle Club.

Jurors watched two video taped meetings between Mathis and McDonald. In each, Mathis took what GBI agents testified were several hundred dollar bills. But nowhere on the tape or in the phone calls did Mathis say what the money was for.

When McDonald asked what the fee would be to get an additional mixed drink license, Mathis said there's no fee. He only joked that he might need a battery or some work on his car in the future and that maybe McDonald, a retired mechanic, could help him out.

Then the second person to accuse Mathis of extortion, Dora Wilson, took the stand. She admitted she hoped and even prayed her testimony in the case would get her a reduced sentence in a previous drug conviction. She said she gave Mathis more than $3,000, some of which Mathis said was campaign money for him and commissioner Jon Howard.

Wilson testified she gave him the money because she felt he would help or hurt her business's chances of getting work with the City. Prosecutors showed the jury Wilson's personal journal. In it, she had written Mathis's name and the amount she paid to him on several occasions, along with her other finances.

Dora Wilson will be back on the stand Thursday morning, with the defense getting a chances to cross examine her. The trial is expected to last until at least Friday.

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