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Jury starts deliberating bribery case against 2

The Tampa Housing Authority's former director and another man are charged in a scheme involving contracts.

By JEFF TESTERMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 28, 2001


TAMPA -- Jurors in the Tampa Housing Authority bribery trial were given a complex set of instructions Tuesday, then retired to deliberate for about five hours without reaching a verdict.

First seated on Feb. 6, the seven-man, five-woman jury is scheduled to resume deliberations at 9 a.m. today.

In 13 days of testimony, the jury heard more than 50 witnesses and viewed a huge amount of documentary evidence regarding allegations that former Tampa Housing Authority Executive Director Audley S. Evans steered contracts to developer C. Hayward Chapman and others in return for more than $200,000 in kickbacks.

Jurors sent four questions to U.S. District Judge James S. Moody on Tuesday afternoon, three of them technical queries about jury instructions, the fourth seeking clarification of the difference between a bribe and an illegal gratuity.

Indicted by a federal grand jury in April, Evans, 48, and Chapman, 64, face 80 counts of wire fraud, bribery, illegal gratuities, money laundering and making false statements to a federal agency.

Chapman also faces income tax evasion charges, which the same jurors would take up in a second trial as soon as they finish deliberating in the Housing Authority case. Prosecutors have accused Chapman of failing to pay $843,957 in income taxes in 1998 on $2.1-million in income, a portion of it from contracts through the Housing Authority.

A third defendant in the case walked from the courthouse a free man Monday after all charges against him were thrown out.

Dr. Patrick Watson, 43, a friend and personal physician of Evans, had been charged with 45 counts of mail fraud, bribery, illegal gratuities and money laundering. Prosecutors called no witnesses to testify against Watson, instead relying on charts showing Watson's investments flowing into companies that got Housing Authority contracts, and $76,500 in cash flowing back to Evans.

Watson did not testify, but Evans swore that the $76,500 was undocumented loans from Watson, a friend who attended the same high school and later became his limited business partner.

After arguments for a summary judgment for acquittal by defense attorney David Maney, Moody dismissed all charges against the Tampa physician.

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