MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert was called to the witness stand for the Cliffard Whitby and Harold Knowles trial, Thursday morning.
Reichert was the first character witness called for Whitby. He began by saying he met Whitby in 2007. He worked with him on blight and bringing in business and jobs.
Reichert recalled when Whitby took him to the old Ballard Hudson building, which was supposed to be turned into the Macon Promise Center, intended to be the hub for the Macon Promise Neighborhood (MPN). Reichert said when he first saw it, he was pessimistic about Whitby’s idea to turn revitalize it. Reichert stated, “It was like walking through a junk yard. It was pitiful and pathetic.” Then continued by saying, “you couldn’t take the smile off his (Whitby’s) face.”
Reichert said he was needed to sign a memorandum of understanding for a planning grant initiative for MPN.
The defense presented a letter Reichert wrote to MPN in 2011. In it, it suggested Dallemand showed support for MPN, a point the defense wanted to make. In Dallemand’s testimony, he says he did not support MPN until he was bribed by Whitby at conference in Washington, D.C. in March 2011. Dallemand says Whitby agreed to give him $100,000 every year for 10 years if the Bibb County School District gave the MPN $1,000,000 every year.
Dallemand claims he did not support MPN, because he had his own initiative, the Macon Miracle. In Reichert’s testimony, he said he supported Dallemand’s Macon Miracle, because he felt obligated as the mayor, to support Dallemand in his role as superintendent. Reichert mentioned that Dallemand “became increasingly toxic” and Reichert got criticism for supporting Dallemand. Reichert agreed that the MPN also got criticism because of Dallemand’s involvement.
Reichert also praised Whitby for his work throughout the years and for the success of Whitby’s construction company. He said Whitby could make chicken salad out of just about anything.
The defense only got to 2 witnesses Thursday, Reichert and attorney, Boone Smith. Attorneys anticipated resting their case by Friday, but testimony could stretch until next week.
Stay with 41NBC for updates on the trial.