TALLAHASSI, Florida (WCTV) – On the first day of testimony in the JT Burnett case, there were three prosecution witnesses, all of whom were associated with the now defunct KaiserKane.
The first prosecution witness was J.T. Burnett’s cousin Melissa Oglesby. In her testimony, she confirmed that she had entered into an agreement with the government to testify in exchange for immunity.
Oglesby said J.T. Burnett gave her her first job after college, saying that she worked “quite a long time” at Burnette Construction and then at GLD Mechanical, which was partly owned by Burnette.
She testified that she bought the Eastern Shores Maritime Company from the accused’s brother, Will Burnett, and renamed it KaiserKane. Oglesby explained that she wanted to apply for federal 8 (A) and needed a company that had been in business for two years.
Oglesby talked about becoming 8 (A), describing it as a program that helps minority contractors negotiate with the federal government without competition. She testified that Burnett thought “it would be good for me to do,” calling him “mentor and advisor.”
She also said the company grew “quite rapidly” in 2008, increasing sales to $ 20 million a year from $ 4 million a year earlier.
Oglesby revealed that KaiserKane lent Burnett money frequently, sometimes “a couple of million at a time.”
“There was a time when it was three or four times a week,” she said. “It was just because I trusted him.”
Oglesby said loans were repaid “not always,” but “often.”
According to her testimony, in late 2013, Burnet arranged a meeting between Oglesby and Paige Carter-Smith. Oglesby said KaiserKane is “difficult” to get the GSA to work, and Carter-Smith said she can help through governance.
“I thought they looked like a lobbying firm,” Oglesby said. “Before the meeting, I didn’t know they were consultants.”
Oglesby testified that Burnett told her that “she needed to work smarter, not harder.”
She and Trey Gardner met with Carter-Smith in late 2013, signing a contract on January 10, 2014 for a $ 10,000 upfront payment and success fees.
Oglesby said that because KaiserKane was never awarded a GSA contract with KaiserKane, no success fees were paid.
On March 7, 2014, KaiserKane received a US $ 100,000 invoice from the government.
“It must be a mistake,” Trey Gardner wrote to Accounting. “$ 10,000 is all they get until we get the project.”
“DO NOT pay for this,” Oglesby emailed. “I’ll talk to JT about it.”
Oglesby testified that Burnett told her the payment “had something to do with Scott Maddox and DoubleTree,” later adding that he told her it was done to help Maddox buy DoubleTree.
That same March, Oglesby approved a million-dollar loan to Burnett to finance the purchase of DoubleTree.
KaiserKane lent Burnett $ 1 million on March 27, $ 2.2 million on March 31, and another $ 1 million on April 3.
When asked why she approved of this, Oglesby replied, “I wasn’t going to argue with him.”
Oglesby’s emails at the time expressed concerns about the lack of cash in KasierKane’s treasury. Prosecution evidence showed that the $ 2.2 million loan was repaid quickly, but KaiserKane employees constantly hesitated when the rest of the money would be paid.
The prosecution questioned Oglesby as to why she approved the loans.
“I trusted JT. He was my mentor, my cousin. I wanted to help him. He’s not easy to argue with, ”said Oglesby. “In the end, it had to happen.”
Oglesby said she was annoyed that “money goes away all the time.”
Correspondence between Oglesby and The Bean Team’s accountants refers to loans.
“There are so many of them now that they all work together,” wrote Melissa Whittaker.
“We will be raped!” Oglesby answered.
She sent a draft email to Whittaker and Charles Musgrove asking, “Can I send this to JT?”
She confirmed to the prosecution that she was “nervous” to talk to him about it, but said that she was not “afraid of him.”
The defense began cross-examination at around 11:45 am, focusing on how Burnett helped Oglesby build her company.
Lawyer Tim Jansen pointed out, and Oglesby confirmed, that Burnett found Paul Keller, a lobbyist, to help KaiserKane get contracts from the Justice Department.
Oglesby confirmed that at times she and her co-worker, Frank Wheatley, did not get along, and Burnett acted as a buffer “most of the time”.
The defense also submitted emails as evidence showing that Burnett was handling payment issues between KaiserKane and Keller at some point.
Jansen argued that Burnett was trying to help KaiserKane make more money, and introduced Oglesby to Carter-Smith, hoping she could help KaiserKane get GSA (General Services Administration) contracts.
He submitted an initial draft of the contract between KaiserKane and Governance, and Oglesby agreed that it was a bad deal. Jansen then revealed Burnett’s new contract, and Oglesby agreed that it was a much better deal.
The defense evidence provided more insight into KaiserKane’s financial performance, with US Department of Defense contracts worth approximately $ 3 million in Pensacola and Mayport, and approximately $ 3 million in Justice Department contracts in Talladega, Memphis and Washington DC. floors under construction, which means that the cost of the transaction was $ 30 million for the entire duration of the project.
Jansen added that none of the loans to Burnett were illegal and that Oglesby’s signature was on the $ 100,000 payment to the Office.
“Mr. Burnett never made any loans or signed anything without your consent,” he said.
“Would it be fair to say that the $ 100,000 lobbying fee would be worth the contract with the GSA?” Jansen asked.
“Yes,” Oglesby replied.
Jansen talked about the requirements of 8 (A) companies to have a private job; Oglesby confirmed that Burnet was instrumental in securing private employment for her company and maintaining their 8 (A) status.
In the redirection, the prosecution focused on the nature of Oglesby and Burnett’s relationship, claiming she owed him a debt.
“Is it fair to say that you didn’t ask many questions when he ordered you to transfer money from your company to his?” the attorney asked.
“Yes,” Oglesby replied.
The second prosecution witness was Melissa Whittaker, a former Soviet Union graduate who joined The Bean Team in 2012. Whittaker revealed that she also worked in offices at a Midtown gas station, the Duval Hotel, and later at Kaiser Kane as part of her work with The Bean. Team.
Whittaker’s testified that no one but Oglesby had the authority to sign, and that KaiserKane would have between $ 3 million and $ 6 million in the bank, depending on the time of year.
The prosecution also filed a claim for KaiserKane payments to the FDA.
“I questioned it when it hit my desk,” Whittaker said, quoting her emails. “I usually see a subcontracting agreement for an agreement of this size.”
Whittaker confirmed that Oglesby initially told her not to pay the money. She testified that Oglesby then spoke to Burnett about the issue.
“She was not happy with the answer, but agreed to pay,” Whittaker said.
During cross-examination of the defense, Whittaker revealed that Burnett and Oglesby maintained friendly relations. She also revealed that she has never seen a formal consulting agreement between Governance and KaiserKane.
The third and final witness on Tuesday was Charles Musgrove Jr. He began his testimony by confirming that he had made an offer to the government.
When asked what he meant by this, Musgrove replied that “if I tell the truth, I will not be persecuted for the information I have provided.”
Musgrove said he founded The Bean Team in September 2001; he said he met Burnett in 2007 and said that in 2013, more than half of The Bean Team’s work involved 15 or 20 of Burnett’s companies.
Some of Musgrove’s testimony concerned the liquidation of KaiserKane’s assets at the end of 2014, which in many documents was referred to as “spin-up”. Other witnesses testified that KaiserKane, as a company 8 (A), “left” the program.
In the Unwind filings, Oglesby sent an email asking him to deduct the $ 110,000 paid to the Office from Burnett’s share.
“Did Burnett object to Management Board payments being tied to his share?” – asked the prosecution.
“No,” Musgrove said.
Musgrove also testified about the Gateway project. He said that KaiserKane could not build on land that it bought from one of Burnett’s companies because the bond company was opposed.
The prosecution showed e-mails between employees of Burnett’s other companies, including Hunter and Harp. Musgrove revealed that properties have risen in value since KaiserKane acquired it, but they have not benefited from the sale.
“Did KaiserKane make that $ 2 million in profit?” – asked the prosecution.
“It was returned to Burnett, one of his companies,” Musgrove replied.
The court meets on Wednesday at 9:00 am.
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