In court Thursday morning, prosecutors played numerous phone messages from political candidates, commonly called autodialers. Those recordings included messages from:
- Rep. Patricia Todd, District 54;
- Gaynell Hendricks, candidate for District 54;
- Scott Briggs, Jefferson County Commission candidate;
- Jim Carns, Jefferson County Commission;
- Alva Lambert, candidate for Court of Criminal Appeals;
- George Wallace, Jr., candidate for Lt. Gov.;
- Ron McGuffey, candidate for Jefferson County Sheriff.
The CEO of AccessCom, Gordon Jeffery Giles, testified that his company conducted the autodialers for Katopodis. The company would set up a phone line for the candidate to call. The company would record the candidate's message and begin sending that message to homes in a designated area, usually a legislative district.
Checks from Computer Help for Kids paid for the autodialers, evidence and testimony showed.
Two of the beneficiaries, Todd and Hendricks, were opposing candidates in the same campaign.
The charity's political expenditures were not limited to autodialers. A campaign manager for Jimmy Blake's failed 2002 campaign for Jefferson County Commission received payments from Computer Help for Kids.
Checks introduced into evidence showed regular payments of $1,250 each from the charity to Charles Hill.
Hill testified that he met Katopodis while working at a casino in Mississippi. He came to Birmingham to work for Katopodis and Blake. While he called himself Blake's campaign manager, sometimes his duties and responsibilities were ambiguous, according to testimony.
Under direct examination from federal prosecutors, Hill testified that he had not done any work for Computer Help for Kids, but under cross examination, he said that he might have delivered some computers or identified sites for community computer labs.
"I did whatever Dr. Blake and Dr. Katopodis needed me to do," Hill said.
Shortly before the mid-day break, prosecutors called County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins to the stand.
In 2001, Collins received $10,000 from another non-profit Katopodis ran, the Council for Cooperating governments. Collins said the money was for consulting she did on a project to bring high-speed rail to Birmingham.
Collins received the money at the same time HealthSouth had hired Katopodis to solicit tax breaks from Jefferson County for the so-called digital hospital on Highway 280, according to testimony and depositions in a lawsuit between Katopodis and HealthSouth.
On the commission, Collins voted for county funding for Computer Help for Kids. She testified Thursday that the county had no mechanism of controls to audit non-profits that received county funding. Personal expenses such as trips to casinos or flights overseas would not be an appropriate use of county funds, she testified.
If there were any political ties between Katopodis and Collins, they do no appear long-lasting. In 2006, Computer Help for Kids paid for an autodialer for Collins' political opponent, Scott Briggs.
Testimony will resume after lunch.