The former finance manager for crime novelist Patricia Cornwell sharply denied complaints of negligence in federal court Tuesday, insisting that he did not benefit “in any way” from handling Cornwell’s fortune.
“I did not steal any money from anyone,” testified Evan Snapper, a former principal at Anchin, Block & Anchin, an accounting firm in New York that managed Cornwell’s finances. “The money was there.”
It was Snapper’s second day on the stand in his own defense, after weeks of testimony accusing him of negligence.
Cornwell has sued him and Anchin for mismanagement, saying they cost her tens of millions in losses or unaccounted revenue over four years, from 2005 to 2009. Cornwell said she ended her relationship with Anchin after learning she was worth far less than she expected. Snapper and Anchin contend no money was stolen and say she spent millions on a lavish lifestyle.
Cornwell, 56, who has followed the trial from the front row, is expected to testify.
Under questioning from Anchin’s lawyer, Snapper said Cornwell had told him to misrepresent her financial records to mask political donations. In one instance, he said, Cornwell asked him to make a campaign contribution to former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore on her behalf, then reimburse himself through her account.
Asked if Cornwell had authorized this arrangement, which violated campaign finance laws, Snapper said, “She most certainly did.”
Cornwell did not want to support Gilmore publicly because he was a conservative Republican, Snapper said. He said the contributions were disclosed in Cornwell’s financial statements. When Gilmore ran for the US Senate, Cornwell told him “to handle it the same way,” Snapper testified.
He testified that neither he nor Cornwell knew the violations were crimes that could result in a jail sentence. After Cornwell sued him, Snapper said he reported his violations to the US Justice Department.
“I was so upset there was a document calling me a thief, I was beyond myself,” he testified. “I felt it was better to just admit what I did.”
In 2011, Snapper pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws and is serving three years of probation.
“I told them the truth,” he said. “I explained how it went.”
“They wanted me to implicate her,” he added, referring to Cornwell. “But I didn’t.”
Cornwell’s lawyer, Joan Lukey, pointed out that others had contradicted Snapper’s testimony. In a similar scheme, Snapper sold tickets to an Elton John concert held in support of Hillary Clinton, then reimbursed the buyers through Cornwell’s account to avoid contribution limits.
Snapper said he did not benefit “in any way” from hiding these contributions.
Snapper said that Cornwell had often donated to political campaigns and made a point of giving the maximum. When Deval Patrick ran for governor in 2006, she made a $50,000 contribution to his political action committee, Snapper said. But when Patrick won the election, she was disappointed by the lack of gratitude, said Snapper. “They never thanked her appropriately, as far as Ms. Cornwell was concerned,” Snapper said. As a result, she resisted other suggestions to donate to PACs, he said.
Snapper also said Cornwell rented an Fifth Avenue apartment for $40,000 a month. Snapper said Cornwell had asked him only days before to find her an apartment.Peter Schworm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.