CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - He's charged with fleecing taxpayers in his job with the Cleveland schools.
Did Daniel Burns pad his pockets or was he set up by an equipment supplier who had been a trusted friend and now points the finger at Burns? It's the job the jury will tackle now that it's heard from both sides and seen Burns reduced to tears on the stand.
Burns didn't have to testify but he did, risking cross examination. It was a calculated risk that he hopes will neutralize testimony from a former friend, the copier supplier in question and his own assistant.
Both claim Burns authorized payment for duplicating equipment that was never delivered and pocketed the cash. Burns was confronted by auditors at the board of education.
"He quickly told me that I was a suspect in a fraud investigation and asked me how I felt about it," said Burns.
Early in his time with the Cleveland Schools, Burns learned something a lot of us already knew -the system was broken. He says an example was at the print shop in the basement of the headquarters building. He'd park his car near it in the garage and noticed presses stood idle day after day.
Burns says that is why he hired his friend John Briggle, who first consulted the district then sold it copiers. Ones that were never delivered. Dr. Eugene Sanders wanted answers.
"He said man to man, between you and I, do you have anything going on with this fellow?" said Burns. "And I said no sir."
District schools and warehouses were searched, no copiers. So Burns called Briggle and set up a meeting.
"I said where are the GD machines?"
"And what did he respond."
"He said there are no machines."
Burns says he was out of the loop, that Briggle cut a plea deal to save himself. It was a reality check.
The lawyers wrapped up their cases Monday afternoon, now it's up to the jury. Copier supplier John Briggle has already plead guilty and faces a jail term and $154,000 in restitution.