The Ottumwa Courier

May 13, 2013

Hearsay won't appear in Ward trial, U.S. Attorney says

CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Despite defense concerns, the U.S. Attorney's office says it doesn't plan on using hearsay testimony in its case against Pam Ward, according to court documents filed Monday.

Pam Ward, former director of Ottumwa Transit Authority, faces four charges in federal court alleging she inflated ridership numbers during her tenure. The inflated numbers were used in grant applications filed from 2007-10 to garner funding for OTA (now Ottumwa Transit) and 10-15 Transit.

A state audit criticizing OTA led to Ward's firing in June 2011. The agency was cut off from state and federal revenue streams in the weeks following the audit and Ward's termination, though those ties were eventually restored.

Last week, her attorneys asked the judge to disallow what they call hearsay from her upcoming trial.

On Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Courter filed a brief response to the defense's motion in limine.

"The government does not intend to introduce any impermissible hearsay testimony from any government witness during the course of the trial," Courter wrote.

Ward's attorneys requested that Memorandums of Activity from interviews of Ray Wagner, Councilman Mitch Niner and Bill Musgrove be excluded from any mention before a jury on the basis that they include hearsay testimony, rumors and speculation "which are not within their first-hand knowledge or are inadmissible."

Also included in the defense's court filings is a suggestion that federal authorities might have looked into OTA before state auditors.

In the motion in limine, Ward's attorneys refer to testimony provided by Wagner "that after the FTA began a regulatory investigation into what Ward was doing, Senator Chuck Grassley got involved and apparently found some way to quash the FTA's Investigation for the reason that would be hearsay or speculation outside of the personal knowledge of this witness and would be inadmissible under Federal Rules of Evidence 602, 701 and 802."

Grassley's office told the Courier it had no record of his or his office's involvement in the alleged investigation.

The trial is currently scheduled to begin on June 3 in the Des Moines U.S. Courthouse.