An expert witness called by former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford’s defense attorney testified Tuesday that Medford’s gambling losses totaled $122,000 from 2002 to 2007, and under cross-examination agreed that Medford “put in play” more than $800,000 at casinos.
Medford defense attorney Steve Lindsay questioned Erik Lioy, a certified public accountant and certified fraud examinor for Grant Thornton, a large accounting, tax and business adisory firm. Lioy testified as an expert witness in examining accounting and financial records to determine if fraud had occurred. Lioy told the jury he had studied the bank statements, loan records, tax returns and other financial forms of both Medford and Medford’s long-time girlfriend, Judi Bell, so he could offer an opinion in court.
Under questioning by Lindsay, Lioy first gave a year-by-year breakdown of Medford’s salary. With the aid of a bar chart presented to jurors, Lioy said that Medford’s 2002 income before taxes was $80,000 as sheriff, and it gradually increased. For the five-year period, Medford’s income totalled $487,000 in salary as sheriff, plus $122,000 in pension payouts, $8,000 to $9,000 in Social Security payments and about $4,000 in income tax refunds, according to Lioy.
Lioy testified that he examined records Lindsay had given him showing winnings and losses Medford incurred at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, as well as Harrah’s properties in Mississippi and Nevada. From 2002 through 2007, Medford’s gambling losses totaled $122,000, Lioy said. Medford actually had gambling winnings of $1,500 in 2004, Lioy said. The money is tracked through a casino-issued “player’s card” that’s swiped into a machine and tracks the money a gambler plays, Lioy testified.
For Medford’s girlfriend, Judi Bell, Lioy testified that her gambling losses totalled $17,000 for 2004 through 2006. She had a total net income of $119,000 for that period of time, Lioy said.
Lioy testified that both Medford and Bell had a number of automated teller machine transactions and that they often cashed checks at grocery stores.
In looking at Medford’s finances, Lioy also said he took found that Medford lived in an apartment, owned a 2003 Chevrolet car with an original purchase price of $23,000 and had received money from a mortgage against a home he owned and allowed a relative to live in rent-free.
U.S. Attorney Richard Edwards cross-examined Lioy and asked if it was correct that from 2003 to 2006 that Medford has “put in play” more than $815,000, according to the money tracked by Medford’s casino player card. Lioy said he didn’t tally that amound, but understood that Medford had a high volume of play. When Edwards asked what machines were played, Lioy said it appeared that Medford gambled at $1-per-play video gambling machines.
Edwards also asked Lioy if he knew that Medford was at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino on 225 different days during an unspecified period of time. Lioy said he didn’t note that number.
Edwards asked Lioy if he knew that Bell had put into play more than $600,000 from 2003 to 2006. Lioy said he didn’t note that.
Earlier Tuesday, assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Ellis finished cross-examining Medford, who took the stand in his defense on Monday. Ellis also questioned Medford about his finances. Ellis showed Medford a copy of his 2006 tax return, which showed a total income of $215,000 and $45,000 in charitable giving. Medford said he never gave away that much money.
“I’m big-hearted and I give away, but not that much,” Medford said. “I would think it would be a typographical error or something like that.”