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Prosecutor may be called to testify in Daniel’s case

Defense attorney wants to probe payments

June 29, 2011
By BILL SHEA - Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

The special prosecutor who charged a Fort Dodge man with making an illegal campaign contribution to former Gov. Chet Culver may be called to the witness stand during a planned October trial.

Monty Fisher, the attorney for Steve Daniel, said Tuesday evening that he is listing Special Prosecutor Lawrence Scalise and Richard McConville, an attorney assisting him, as potential witnesses for the defense.

Fisher said he wants them to testify because he has learned that previous defendants in the case - Peninsula Gaming LLC of Dubuque and its top two executives - agreed to pay the costs incurred by the prosecutors up until the time the charges against them were dismissed on May 13.

''You don't see it very often,'' Fisher said of that payment plan.

He said he doesn't know how much money was paid or the reason for the payments. Putting Brent Stevens, the chief executive officer of Peninsula Gaming, and Jonathan Swain, the company's chief operating officer, on the witness stand would enable him to probe those issues, Fisher said.

He added that he also hopes to call Davenport attorney Curtis Beason, Daniel's co-defendant, as a witness. Additionally, he intends to file a motion seeking the dismissal of all charges against Daniel.

Scalise could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Fisher's comments came after a Tuesday afternoon hearing on his requests to separate Daniel's trial from that of Beason, and to move Daniel's trial to Webster County. Polk County Associate District Court Judge William Price did not indicate when he would rule on those requests.

The hearing was the latest chapter in Daniel's case.

He is charged with making a campaign contribution in the name of another and willful failure to disclose a campaign contribution.

The charges stem from a $25,000 contribution made to Culver's re-election campaign in November 2009. At the time, Daniel was the leader of Webster County Entertainment, a group which was seeking to open a casino near Fort Dodge.

That contribution was made soon after Peninsula Gaming LLC, which was to run the proposed Diamond Jo Fort Dodge, paid Daniel and two other Fort Dodge men $25,000. The other two men, Jim Kesterson and Merrill Leffler Jr. were not charged with any crimes.

On Oct. 11, 2010, Scalise filed charges against Daniel, Webster County Entertainment, Peninsula Gaming LLC, Stevens, Swain and Beason. All of them were charged with making a campaign contribution in the name of another and willful failure to disclose a campaign contribution. Beason, who was a legal adviser to the casino planners, was additionally charged with obstruction.

Daniel's trial is scheduled for Oct. 10 in Des Moines.

The Diamond Jo Fort Dodge plan collapsed in May 2010 when the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission declined to issue the needed license.

Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or



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