Mike Hubbard trial day 7: Hubbard’s business associates, friends take the stand

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Prosecutors continued to call witnesses Thursday in an effort to prove that Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard used his political office for personal profit.

Thursday, the jury heard from three witnesses, all of whom were Hubbard’s business associates. Some of whom testified they considered Hubbard a personal friend.

Robert Abrams testifies in Mike Hubbard trial

Prosecutor John Gibbs talks to witness Robert Abrams about an email in the Mike Hubbard trial on Thursday, June 2, 2016. [Photo Credit: AP, Pool | Todd Van Emst]

Testimony began with Robert Abrams, the former president and owner of Capital Cups, one of Hubbard’s clients.

Hubbard held a $10,000 a month contract with Capital Cups, and four of the 23 charges against him are based on his work with the company.

Going in to business with Hubbard, Abrams said he asked the speaker if he would be able to work for the business since he served as speaker.

According to Abrams testimony, Hubbard then presented him with a letter from the Alabama Ethics Commission giving him permission to work with third-party companies.

Abrams went on to testify that Hubbard arranged meetings for him with Governor Robert Bentley and Secretary Greg Canfield.

During the cross examination, Abrams explained he hired Hubbard because of his sports network connections, having formerly worked in sports broadcasting and for the Auburn Network, and that it had nothing to do with his political office.

“Legislature had nothing to do with it,” Abrams said. “We were calling him based on his connection for sports network.”

“We went to him because of the sports network connection is where I thought he might be helpful,” Abrams continued.

Rob Burton testifies in Mike Hubbard trial

Rob Burton answers questions from Bill Baxley during Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard trial on Thursday, June 2, 2016. [Photo Credit: AP, Pool | Todd Van Emst]

Rob Burton, president of Hoar construction, also took the witness stand Thursday morning. Burton was one of 10 people who invested $150,000 into Hubbard’s printing company Craftmaster when it was facing financial trouble.

“I invested in that because Mike Hubbard was a friend and it had nothing to do with the fact that he was speaker of the House. Even if he were not speaker, I still would have invested because I knew Mike as a friend, I like him and I trusted him,” Burton said before the jury.

Last on the stand in day seven of the trial was Jimmy Rane, president of Great Southern Wood.

Like Burton, Rane also invested $150,000 into Craftmaster.

“I would trust him with my children and my check book,” Rane testified of Hubbard.

Jimmy Rane testifies in Mike Hubbard trial

Prosecutor Matt hart questions Jimmy Rane during the Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard trial on Thursday, June 2, 2016. [Photo Credit: AP, Pool | Todd Van Emst]

Rane stressed his friendship with Hubbard throughout his testimony, and explained he has known Hubbard since 1984.

“I would trust him with my children and my checkbook,” said Rane.

Rane said he would have made the deal even if Hubbard was not speaker because “it’s a good investment.”

Court recessed around noon central. Testimony will resume Friday.

Hubbard was indicted in October 2013 on 23 felony ethics charges of using his political office for personal gain.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of two to 20 years imprisonment and fines of up to $30,000 for each count. He would be removed from office if convicted of any of the 23 charges.

Hubbard has since maintained his innocence and continued to serve as Speaker of the Alabama House during the 2016 legislative session.

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