An Annapolis contractor has told a federal jury that he provided the U.S. Naval Academy's former public works officer with appliances, lawn mowers, gasoline, a rental car and other items, and was never repaid throughout their four-year relationship.
The contractor, Carroll R. Dunton, also testified that he bought $25,000 worth of
Amway products from the officer, Capt. James E. Weston. But Dunton said he never got much of the Amway merchandise that Weston insisted he should order.
Dunton said he never asked the captain for refunds or repayments because "I didn't want to lose work at the Naval Academy," which amounted to about 90 percent of his company's business. Instead, Dunton said, he charged many of the Amway bills and other
items that he bought for Weston to Navy contracts.
Dunton testified for the prosecution Friday at Weston's trial on bribery, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
The government contends that Weston received about $34,000 in goods and services from Dunton, and that, in return, the now-retired captain helped Dunton Contracting Inc. get several lucrative government contracts.
The defense counters that Weston repaid Dunton for the appliances in cash, which Dunton demanded to feed his gambling habit.
Dunton pleaded guilty to bribery and illegal gratuities charges last year. Those charges stem from the racketeering conviction of Arthur G. Strissel Jr., the former Annapolis Housing Authority executive director, and to the Weston case. Dunton is awaiting sentencing.
Dunton admitted on defense cross-examination that he liked to gamble, but repeatedly denied that Weston ever gave him any money for the appliances.
He also insisted that he was telling the truth on the witness stand, even though he
freely admitted obstructing justice and lying to a federal grand jury in the Strissel case.
On direct examination by prosecutor Jane F. Barrett, Dunton said Eugene E. Hook, a former Weston subordinate, asked him to buy a washer and dryer for the captain's house even before Weston arrived for duty at the academy in July 1985. Dunton said he bought the appliances and expected to be repaid.
Thereafter, he said, Hook periodically came to his office and asked for items like a trash compactor, a dishwasher, air conditioners and two lawn mowers for Weston.