BOSTON — Jurors in the federal corruption trial of former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi heard from their first witness on Friday, beginning a case that one defense attorney said would be an education into how State House politics work.
The trial’s first witness, Christopher Quinter, drew an unflattering picture of how a software salesman sought to wire deals by going straight to the guy at the top.
“[Joseph Lally] would throw DiMasi’s name all over Cognos headquarters and all over the State House,” Quinter testified. Quinter worked for and then replaced Lally at the Burlington software company that was trying to sell the state two contracts worth over $20 million.
Lally told them he was DiMasi’s best friend and business adviser and that DiMasi was working getting the deals for Cognos.
The government charges that Lally funnelled secret illegal kickbacks to DiMasi through his law associate, Stephen Topazio.
Friday’s witness testified he’d never met or spoken with Topazio and that Topazio never did any work and was never asked to do any work for Cognos, who was paid $5,000 a month.
Yet when Lally left Cognos, according to the witness, he warned him, “whatever you do never cancel a contract for a guy named Topazio.”
In another mail, he testified, Lally instructed him “not to tell anybody about Topazio or the relationship.”