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Man convicted of influencing witness
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Forsyth County News
A Forsyth County man has been convicted of trying to convince the woman he allegedly raped into dropping the charges against him.

A jury on Friday found Michael Sullivan, 42, of Long Hollow Drive guilty of two counts of influencing a witness.

Sullivan’s sentencing has been scheduled for May 26. He was taken into custody following the verdict in Superior Court.

His wife, Carly, and an acquaintance, James Roberts, pleaded guilty to the influencing charge earlier this month.

The rape case against Sullivan has not yet gone to trial.

His trial on the influencing charge began Wednesday.

Sullivan’s accuser testified Wednesday that she contacted authorities in late March 2009 after Roberts asked her if she would accept money for dropping the charges.

The Sullivans and Roberts were arrested April 2, 2009, for allegedly trying to bribe the woman.

The woman, 45, testified that Roberts came to her house March 27, 2009, and offered the deal.

She said he told her she could receive $10,000 if she accepted. If she didn’t, Sullivan would sue her for perjury and publicize it.

Sullivan did not testify on his own behalf.

His attorney, Bruce Harvey, reminded the jury in his closing argument to presume Sullivan’s innocence as they considered the facts in the case.

He asserted that the bribe was Roberts’ idea and that Sullivan only wanted to get a recording of the woman saying she’d accept money in exchange for dropping the charges so he could take it to authorities.

“Nothing suggests to you there was anything other than a plan to get it on tape,” said Harvey, adding that no money was exchanged between Sullivan and Roberts.

“What better evidence can you have than, ‘I want to tape myself doing something illegal,’” Harvey said. “Does that make any sense to you?
That’s [the prosecution’s] theory of the case.”

Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Scalia offered a different version.

“When you go to hell and get the devil to do your dirty work, be careful what you get,” Scalia said. “Mr. Sullivan chose Jimmy Roberts to do his dirty work. He went and got himself a convicted felon to do his dirty work.”

Scalia presented a timeline in support of her argument that Roberts did not record a conversation with the woman until about five days after he first offered the bribe.

She also argued that the case was about more than getting the woman on tape because, as Roberts said, “he was instructed to approach her and threaten her.”

The woman testified that she contacted the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office after her first encounter with Roberts.

With the help of investigators, she recorded later conversations she had with him.

Earlier in the week, Scalia showed the jury video of a meeting the woman had with Roberts in her vehicle.

The two discussed Sullivan paying her $10,000. Roberts could be heard saying he’d ask for $500 for himself.

Roberts, 23, testified Wednesday that he knew Sullivan’s accuser through her children.

He said a private investigator contacted him to discuss Sullivan’s rape case.

He said he later met with Sullivan at his house, where they discussed a deal for Roberts to pursue with the woman.

Roberts said Sullivan also told him he had suffered hardships as a result of the rape charge.

Roberts said Sullivan didn’t name a price in that meeting, but showed off stacks of $100 bills and told him “money’s not a problem.”

The $10,000 amount was his own idea, Roberts said.

He testified that he was arrested April 2, 2009, after meeting with the woman in her vehicle at a parking lot in Cumming.

After speaking with authorities, he set up a meeting with Sullivan at a Mexican restaurant in north Forsyth.

He planned to return the digital recorder that Sullivan had given him to record his conversations with the woman.

He testified that Sullivan never said he would pay him for the recording and that Sullivan said he wouldn’t pay the woman.

Roberts also said he asked Sullivan for some money.

According to testimony, Sullivan’s wife came into the restaurant, sat down and talked briefly with Roberts. She then handed him a $100 bill and took the recorder.

Carly Sullivan testified that she went to the restaurant to pick up the recorder for her husband.

She said the $100 would cover dinner for Roberts, whom she had only met once.