Bill Dismukes made it clear on the witness stand Wednesday what he thinks of his son.
“I love him more than anything else in the world except two of my dogs,” Dismukes said. “I would bet my life that he is an honest person.”
But prosecutors played back two voicemails left by Bill Dismukes with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office that told a very different story.
“He’s a crook,” Bill Dismukes said during the second voicemail. “I hate to admit that; he’s supposed to be mine.”
Bill Dismukes is the father of former state representative Will Dismukes of Prattville, who stands trial on charges of first-degree theft of property based on allegations that he overfilled his company for work supposedly done by his father and then either cashed or deposited the checks himself.
Before the prosecution revealed the key voicemails, Bill Dismukes’ testimony supported the position of the defense that Bill Dismukes did do the work, even if it may have been poorly done at times.
Bill Dismukes went into great detail in particular about his work at the Perry Hill VA Hospital that has been a centerpiece of the trial.
He talked about specific situations where his crew had to pull out bricks, repour self-leveler and waterproof holes in former army stalls that were no longer going to be used as bathrooms.
Bill Dismukes testified that he did all the work for which he was paid and said a 2017 1099 tax form showing he received more than $164,000 for the year through pay applications with Weiss Flooring could be correct.
The voicemail left with prosecutors hit on many of the pieces of evidence already offered by witnesses for the prosecution and support the state’s charge of how Will Dismukes stole money from his employer.
“(Weiss Flooring president) Adam Whitley can tell you,” Bill Dismukes said on the voicemail. “The first thing he had him on was checks written out to me. He signed some of them and he cashed them; I didn’t find out until the following week when they started sending 1099s that he stole $60,000 to $80,000. He filled out the (pay application) and then he went and cashed the check and then came and gave me what I thought I should get. I never saw a check. You can go through their checks and see where he signed them. I gave him permission to sign them, but I didn’t give him permission to steal $60,000 to $80,000.”
Bill Dismukes’ statements in that portion of the voicemail directly support a working theory offered by investigator Andrew Magnus on the witness stand later Wednesday.
Magnus told the jury he does not believe Bill Dismukes knew of the theft as it was taking place in mid-2016 through the end of 2017.
The theory, Magnus testified, is that Bill would go out and do work on these sites at the behest of his son, who was the project manager and sole authority on his projects. Will would then fill out pay applications at the end of the week for all the subcontractors on his project, including his father. Weiss would cut a check to reimburse whatever number was on those pay applications, trusting that Will had calculated correctly. Then Will would take the check under the pretense that he would deliver the check to his father. However, bank records show that Will instead took the checks to his own bank, where he often cashed them or only partially deposited them to get cash back. The theory, Magnus continued, is that Will would then give his father the cash for the amount that Bill would expect for the work completed, none the wiser that Will had actually overfilled Weiss and pocketed the difference for himself.
This theory is also supported, Magnus testified, by information that Will’s mother, who kept the books for Bill’s subcontracting business, called Weiss after receiving the 1099 for 2017 and requested all pay applications to compare against the tax document.
On the stand, Bill Dismukes told prosecutors he was drunk when he left those voicemails and didn’t even recall making the calls to prosecutors. He also revealed he didn’t know about the voicemails until maybe last week, when his son questioned him about them, leading the prosecutors to establish Bill Dismukes as an adverse witness with a vested interest in the outcome of the case.
Bill Dismukes said he was “talking out of my butt” when he made the call.
There has been some question during the case of an exact dollar figure supposedly stolen by Will Dismukes, with the defense challenging the prosecution should be able to provide a figure if they are sure of the theft.
Investigator Magnus laid out many of those numbers Wednesday afternoon on the stand.
According to Magnus’ findings, Weiss Flooring issued 18 checks to Bill Dismukes in 2016. Of those checks, three wound up being associated with Will Dismukes’ bank account. One, for example, was a $600 check. Will Dismukes deposited $300 and cashed $300 out. On another of the checks, the entire amount was deposited in Will Dismukes’ account.
In 2017, Weiss issued 51 checks to Bill Dismukes. Only one of those checks was deposited by Bill Dismukes and his wife. The other 50 checks were all either deposited or cashed, or both, by Will Dismukes, records show.
The total amount of those checks in 2017 are equal to about $162,000, which combined with he single check deposited in Bill’s account match up to the 1099 records.
Records show Will Dismukes cashed out about $115,000 of the checks and about $44,000 remained deposited in his account.
On the VA Hospital job, Bill Dismukes started out being paid not by square foot, by by pound of material used, $2 per pound. This was the same for other subcontractors on the project. But on the third pay application, the price per pound was crossed out, and Bill Dismukes began to be paid instead yb square foot. On this particular application, which noted the amount of material supposedly used by Bill Dismukes, the change resulted in about a $680 increase in the check amount.
And by Will Dismukes’ own estimations marked on a change order after evaluating the state of the VA Hospital subfloor, he estimated it would cost $12,000 in floor prep to do the job.
By the time his father switched over to being paid by square foot, only $7,300 remained in materials to be used for the job.
But Bill Dismukes’ pay applications reflected $36,000 of work done.
Magnus also testified that the total square footage of the project at the VA hospital was roughly 16,000 square feet. But the pay applications created by Will Dismukes on his father’s behalf claim he did prep work on 113,000 square feet. That’s more than seven times the total square footage of the project, meaning Bill Dismukes would have had to “skim” the entire floor seven times to reach that number while at least two other crews were also doing the same work on the project.
Magnus said he and other investigators interviewed Will Dismukes during the investigation. Will admitted to signing a document with Adam Whitley for the repayment of $32,000, but Magnus said Will claimed to have not read the paragraph saying it was dishonestly taken fro the company. Will’s side of the story was that he felt he had mismanaged some projects and wanted to pay money back for that reason.
He also claimed in that interview that he would cash checks for his father because Bill would “be drunk by lunch.” However, Bill testified on the stand that his drinking problem began in earnest after he quit doing flooring and said he would never drink on the job because “you’d cut off your finger.”
The state rested its case on Wednesday and the defense announced its intention to bring just one witness to the stand on Thursday: Will Dismukes himself. The prosecution will have an opportunity to cross examine Will Dismukes and, as he is the defendant, will immediately be able to treat him as an adverse witness, which means they can ask him leading questions as well as having other legal maneuvers at their discretion.
The case is expected to be turned over to jury deliberations this evening depending on how long Will Dismukes remains on the stand and closing arguments for both sides.