NEW YORK, SEPT. 4 -- Barbara Barlow, a fashion executive who twice accompanied Rep. Mario Biaggi (D-N.Y.) to an exclusive Florida spa, testified today at his bribery trial that Meade Esposito, Biaggi's codefendant, arranged the Christmas visits.
Esposito is charged with paying for the first Florida vacation for Biaggi and Barlow in exchange for Biaggi's influence to help Coastal Dry Dock and Repair, a foundering ship-repair firm that owed money to Esposito's insurance firm.
Biaggi is charged with accepting the alleged bribe, and both face conspiracy charges in the case.
Later today, prosecutors played back federal wiretap recordings of a Dec. 20, 1985, discussion between Esposito and Joseph Martuscello about Coastal's financial problems.
During the conversation, Esposito makes a passing reference to Biaggi, who was about to travel to Florida for a second Bonaventure holiday.
Esposito: " . . . guest at the spa, you know?"
Esposito: "Mario is."
Esposito: "And hey, that's good money invested."
Barlow said she persuaded Biaggi to arrange the trips. She said Biaggi charged the second trip to an American Express card bearing the names of Biaggi's son, Richard, and Bernard Ehrlich, Biaggi's former law partner.
Also today, Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) testified that Biaggi and Esposito called him several times seeking help for the failing ship-repair company.