It didn’t take long for former Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe to become “buds” with two businessmen who eventually were hired as longtime contractors with the city’s jail, according to a former high-ranking employee of the sheriff’s.
McCabe and Gerard “Jerry” Boyle — then owner of Correct Care Solutions, a Nashville-based company that provided medical services to the jail — hit it off right away, according to Roger Stephenson, who worked for the Norfolk’s Sheriff’s Office for 26 years. Stephenson retired in 2010 as a captain and executive assistant to the sheriff.
Stephenson’s testimony came Tuesday during McCabe’s bribery and corruption trial in U.S. District Court in Norfolk. The trial began Aug. 3 and likely will continue through this week. The prosecution rested its case Friday and the defense began its on Tuesday.
“Those two sort of jelled instantly,” Stephenson said of McCabe and Boyle. “They were buds. They were pals... Whenever Jerry came to town we might go out and have beers. Jerry would go to Bob’s house and hang out.”
The same could be said for McCabe’s relationship with John Appleton, who led ABL Management, Inc., the company that provided the jail’s food services throughout McCabe’s 22-year tenure in office, Stephenson said.
McCabe is accused of accepting and soliciting gifts, cash, trips and campaign donations from Boyle and Appleton in exchange for preferential treatment in the contract bidding process.
Before testimony started Tuesday, the judge and lawyers on the case agreed to allow a second juror to be excused because they were exposed to COVID-19. The trial started with 12 jurors and four alternates and is now down to two alternates.
The first juror to be excused was released Friday after testing positive for COVID-19. The other jurors were tested afterward and while no others received positive results, one was advised to quarantine for 10 days after being exposed to someone else who tested positive.
Stephenson was one of three witnesses to be called by the defense Tuesday. He told jurors how McCabe transformed the jail when he took office in 1994. Before then, the facility was “one of the worst jails in the state,” Stephenson said. It was grossly overcrowded, unsanitary and dangerous, he said.
McCabe and his top staff members worked long hours to clean it up and get it to Department of Corrections standards, Stephenson said.
The group also frequently traveled to conferences across the country that jail service providers like Boyle and Appleton attended. The two businessmen often took McCabe and his employees out to dinner, Stephenson said, and would ask them to provide references for them to sheriffs they were hoping to do business with.
“Did you see anything wrong with that?” defense lawyer James Broccoletti asked Stephenson.
“No, not at all,” he said. “That’s how they do business.”
Also on Tuesday, Steve Loder, finance director for the Norfolk jail, testified he took the job in 2004 after McCabe asked him to come work for him. Loder said McCabe never asked him to do anything to help Boyle or Appleton get contracts with the jail or receive any other favorable treatment.
James Waller, former purchasing agent for the City of Norfolk, told jurors about some of the rules regarding the bidding process. City employees and elected officials involved in it are prohibited from accepting or soliciting gifts from bidders or taking bribes from them, Waller said.
If a bidder gave them a gift, the employee or elected official must refuse to accept it, Waller said.
Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, email@example.com