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McFall suggested swap of influence, witness says

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Posted: Thursday, February 3, 2005 10:00 pm

SACRAMENTO -- Land-use attorney Tom Terpstra testified Thursday that Monte McFall suggested his influence could be critical for a project Terpstra was pushing before the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors in 2001.

But under cross-examination from McFall's attorney, Terpstra said that McFall never said that he could get the vote for Terpstra's project from then-Supervisor Lynn Bedford, and that the project never went before the board for a vote.

"I didn't ask him to support it; I didn't ask him to advocate for it," Terpstra said of a private meeting he had in 2001 with Bedford over Golden State Crossroads, a commercial development planned west of Tracy.

Terpstra and project developer Dave Corliss, who also testified Thursday, both said that McFall, who is on trial for federal corruption charges, also discussed the possibility of being a consultant to the project.

"The implication was that McFall had considerable influence on Bedford," Terpstra said, under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Hanly.

McFall also told Terpstra at a July 2001 fund-raiser for Bedford's re-election that Terpstra could help McFall gain approval for a power plant in the Port of Stockton by lobbying Terpstra's law office partner, Steve Herum, a port commissioner, Terpstra testified.

In exchange, Terpstra testified, McFall suggested he would help Golden State get Bedford's approval.

According to prosecutors, McFall and two other men, including former San Joaquin County Sheriff Baxter Dunn, formed two partnerships that would earn a commission of more than $2 million if they helped Sunlaw Energy Corp. get a plant built in the port.

In his testimony, Corliss recalled a meeting he had with McFall at a bar west of Tracy in 2001 where they talked about hiring McFall as a consultant for Golden State.

Corliss said that McFall described a deal he had with another man where the man did not pay what McFall said he owed him, so McFall said he had broken the man's legs.

"He laughed, and then he got very serious and stared right in my eyes," Corliss said. "I got the sense that crossing Mr. McFall on a deal was a bad idea."

Under cross-examination from Bill Romaine, McFall's attorney, Corliss said they chose not to hire McFall, and the company withdrew the application from the county and instead submitted it to the city of Tracy.

The project, outside Tracy city limits, remains unbuilt.

Earlier testimony from Lathrop developer Norman Jarrett centered around McFall's attempt to become a consultant for the Califia project, a proposed group of theme parks in Lathrop that has since become River Islands at Lathrop.

Jarrett testified he had a deal that would pay McFall a 10 percent commission on the amount he saved Califia in levee reconstruction by finding a public source of financing.

McFall wanted Jarrett to create the partnership with Eureka Trading Co. Inc., a company he said he was partners in with friend Lowell Daniels.

Daniels never signed the agreement and testified later Thursday that he had no knowledge of the deal -- but considered McFall a friend.

"I can honestly say that every dealing I ever had with him and every promise he ever had to fulfill, he had an extremely high level of integrity," said Daniels, a Ferndale resident who hugged McFall outside the courtroom.

Jarrett testified that the agreement "died of its own free will," and McFall received no money from Califia.

At the time Califia had discussions with McFall, McFall was on the board for Reclamation District 17, which oversees levees and levee repairs.

Other witnesses Thursday testified about McFall's financial transactions with the Bank of Stockton and his filing of a Statement of Economic Interests, which public officials must complete annually.

Part of the 19 counts against McFall include a charge that he failed to disclose his consulting work on the SEI form.

FBI agent Andrew Munson testified Thursday about what agents discovered when they executed a search warrant at McFall's home in July 2002.

He said investigators originally planned an undercover investigation of McFall, but dropped the idea when McFall learned he was being researched.

Romaine's cross-examination of Munson is expected to open today's portion of the trial, which is expected to take about four weeks.

Contact Associate Editor Ben van der Meer at benvan@tracypress.com.

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