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Day one of testimony in the books for Bruno's alleged business partner

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Day one of testimony in the books for Bruno's alleged business partner
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- The star was on the stand Thursday but Jared Abbruzzese seeming reluctant and angry to testify for the prosecution.

Twice, Judge Gary Sharpe told him to stop disrespecting the process; quote: "I need you not to make speeches, not launch off on your own...what you are doing is testifying, you are not going to argue with me again."

"The question is what impact does that make? Does the impact of having these associates, key players or friends of the defendant behaving that way, have any effect? Not sure, but it is certainly unusual," said legal analyst Paul DerOhannesian.

Federal prosecutor Bill Pericak covered a lot of ground. Trying to tie Abbruzzese's money to Bruno's politics, Pericak zeroed in on Evident Technologies: a start-up company owned by Abbruzzese.

In 2002, Evident was awarded a $1.5 million state grant but two years later had only received a fraction of the money.

Needing cash, Abbruzzese claims he went to Governor Pataki for help. But the real help only came after he took a vacation and made a deal with Senator Joe Bruno.

"Five days after the Bruno makes an agreement to be a consultant, is when the funds are released from a state grant," said DerOhannesian.

Now an official consultant for Abbruzzese, Bruno was bounced from company to company Abbruzzese owned making $20,000 a month at each stop. But in e-mails presented as evidence, the CEO's of all those companies ask each other: "What work does Bruno actually do for us?"

Even the top dog, Abbruzzese, had trouble explaining that; quoting the prosecutor: "You never asked Senator Bruno to take any action other than setting up meetings, and introducing you to people?"

Abbruzzese replied: "That's correct."

But when pressed, Abbruzzese could only remember one such meeting: with Donald Trump, on a Florida golf course; one meeting in two years, despite paying Bruno $300,000 in consulting fees.

"This is the person that should know what, if anything, Bruno was doing for $20,000 a month. And I think that's the real challenge for the defense in this case: trying to prove that there was some value, some work for the $20,000 a month," said DerOhannesian.

Abbruzzese also denounced the notion he wanted to use Bruno to rig a bid for New York's horse racing franchise.

On cross-examination, he answered "Absolutely not," when the defense asked if he ever tried to bribe Bruno.

He says he never expected the Senate Majority Leader to take any official action, for all that money.

Abbruzese continues on the stand Friday.

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