NORFOLK, Va. - A key government witness in the trial of former Sheriff Bob McCabe testified before jurors on Tuesday.
John Appleton is the former head of ABL Management, Inc., which provided food services at the jail for more than 20 years during McCabe's tenure as sheriff. Appleton has immunity from prosecution and described specific incidents where he now says he gave McCabe kickbacks.
Upon questioning from prosecutors, Appleton described years of gifts, travel and campaign contributions he gave to McCabe. He repeatedly described their relationship as "scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."
Prosecutors described a pattern where McCabe would email or text Appleton, saying the food services contract was coming up soon at the jail. Around that time, McCabe would ask Appleton for things like catering or campaign contributions. Appleton would grant the requests; then, he testified ABL would receive the contracts.
In one instance, Appleton said McCabe left the room of his office, allowing Appleton to view the proposal of a competitor seeking a contract, which was lower than his.
Appleton testified that he did have a personal friendship with McCabe but gave all of the gifts for business purposes to "keep the contract."
McCabe is also accused of having a similar relationship with the former head of the medical services provider at the jail, Jerry Boyle. Boyle, who once ran Correct Care Solutions, has been indicted and faces his own trial later this year.
During cross examination, Appleton said he had never told anyone else about the incident in McCabe's office, except for perhaps a business partner at the time.
McCabe's attorney, James Broccoletti, questioned Appleton about his company's performance at the jail. Appleton said the company did a good job, which helped explain how they continued to get the contracts.
Appleton said he did not consider all the gifts to be kickbacks at the time he was giving them, but he did consider them kickbacks when he signed an immunity agreement with the prosecution in 2019. Appleton said he feared going to jail.