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Solofa case: Nauer testimony consistent with the direct

Federal prosecutors claim that former local Education Department official Paul Solofa initiated the school bus spare parts scheme, something that its witness Gustav Nauer testified to last week in day one of Solofa’s trial at the federal court in Washington D.C.

However, prosecutors say Solofa’s defense may cross-examine Nauer for the truthfulness of his testimony, in order to get a lower sentence, and have asked the federal court to allow the government to introduce evidence of prior consistent statements made by Nauer way before the federal government launched an official investigation into the scheme.

Prosecution wants to introduce prior statements on a re-direct examination of Nauer, which it says is consistent with provisions of federal rules of evidence. Nauer, the former boss of the DOE bus division maintenance team, pled guilty in January 2011 at federal court in Honolulu to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery.

As part of his guilty plea, Nauer admitted to participating in a scheme that began in late 2002 involving other DOE officials as well as the owner and operator of a company that sold school bus parts to the American Samoa government. (The company’s owner and operator as well as the name of the company have since been identified as Oscar Mayer of locally based Pacific Products).

Nauer admitted that he and other government officials were paid approximately $300,000 in bribes from January 2003 until October 2006. Nauer faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in March this year.

In an 8-page motion filed last Friday at the federal court, prosecutors say Nauer’s testimony has not yet been completed, adding that on direct examination, the government anticipates that Nauer will testify that the defendant initiated the bus parts bribery scheme and that Nauer made cash bribe payments to the defendant during the scheme.

On cross-examination, the government anticipates that the defense “will impeach the testimony of Mr. Nauer by suggesting that his testimony — that the defendant was involved in the bus parts scheme — was motivated by Mr. Nauer’s plea agreement and cooperation with the government and his hope for a reduction of his sentence through a downward departure motion,” prosecutors contend.

Under federal rules of evidence, on re-direct examination the government will offer prior consistent statements that  Nauer made in recorded conversations with Mayer that took place long before Nauer’s cooperation with the government and prior to his purported motive to curry favor with the government, said prosecutors.

In those conversations, “Mr. Nauer did not know that he was being recorded, and he spoke about the defendant’s role in the bus parts scheme long before he began cooperating with the government,” according to prosecutors.

Specifically, on February 8, 2008, more than two years before he began cooperating with the government, Nauer was recorded speaking to Mayer about the bus parts scheme and the defendant’s role in the scheme, said prosecutors, who provided specific excerpts from the taped recording that the government intends to introduce to rebut any claims by the defense.

Prosecutors argued that the “recorded statements... serve to rebut defendants’ suggestion of recent fabrication.”

“The recorded statements of Nauer are consistent with his direct testimony and are properly admissible as direct rebuttals of the forms of impeachment that are likely to occur during his cross-examination” by the defense, said prosecutors.

Solofa’s trial continues today presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton.