A Pennsylvania banker testified yesterday that he gave bank stock to Rep. Daniel J. Flood (D-Pa.) after seeking the congressman's help in securing federal approval for a bank merger.
The stock -- worth $4,000 -- was a gesture of "appreciation" for Flood's "friendship" with the bank, said T. Newell Wood, a former state senator.
Wood's testimony was often contradictory. He said at one point that the stock was a reward for Flood's help with the merger, and said later that it had nothing to do with the merger.
Federal prosecutors have alleged that the stock, given to Flood in November 1972, was one of $69,000 in bribes Flood accepted between 1971 and 1975 in exchange for using his considerable power in the House of Representatives to help various businessmen.
Wood testified in U.S. District Court here on the fifth day of Flood's trial on bribery, conspiracy and perjury charges.
Wood said he was the major stockholder in the State Bank of Eastern Pennsylvania in 1972 when he contacted Flood about the merger.
"You know, Daniel, we've been friends for years," Wood recalled saying. "And I hope we'll remain friends through this" -- the effort to merge with the First Valley Bank of Bethlehem, Pa.
"Of course we will," Wood recalled Flood responding.
According to prior testimony, Flood's administrative aide set up meetings with federal regulatory officials on behalf of the Pennsylvania bankers and the merger was ultimately approved.
Afterward, Wood said, he offered Flood campaign contributions but "he said he didn't need any. I said, how 'bout some bank stock? Wouldn't that be better?"
According to Wood, Flood responded: "That would be better." Wood then transferred 100 shares to Flood's existing holdings at the bank, which the congressman had been given in the 1960s.
Wood was vague about his purpose in giving the stock to Flood and appeared confused about just what actions Flood had taken on behalf of the bank.
"When the merger came along, I asked him to be my friend and the bank's friend and he was," Wood said when asked by prosecutor Mark Tuohey why he had transferred the stock.
But when questioned by the defense lawyer, Axel Kleiboemer, Wood said the stock transfer "had nothing to do with anything at all."
Flood's former administrative aide, Stephen B. Elko, has previously testified that he solicited the stock for Flood as a bribe and that Flood told him to "line up his friends" in the Treasury Department in support of the bank merger.
Wood did recall Elko soliciting a campaign contribution about the time of the merger. "Elko had told me of all the things he had done [for the bank] and indicated that if anyone was going to get a political contribution, it would be Stephen Elko... I told the congressman that Mr. Elko was no good and I didn't want any more to do with him."
Wood said he asked Flood to become a director of the State Bank of Eastern Pennsylvania in 1960. "Every other bank had a judge on its board and we had no one. So to make up for our negligence, we got Mr. Flood."