Former Grace employee takes the stand
When a black Crown Victoria rolled to a stop in front of Robert Locke’s house and three government officials stepped out, he knew it was serious.
It was the first time Locke, a former W.R. Grace employee, had heard about the criminal case against the chemical company and seven of its top jobholders.
“I was surprised by the magnitude of the case, but not by the nature of the case,” he said.
Locke began testifying in the Grace case Monday morning, five years after his initial meeting with government employees, including Kevin M. Cassidy, an attorney for the United States.
Locke, who has been trying to sue Grace for more than a decade, has met with Cassidy and fellow government attorney Kris A. McLean multiple times since then.
However, McLean tried to show the jurors that Locke isn’t biased against Grace, nor is he receiving a reward from the government for testifying in the case.
“Have you been granted a benefit for your testimony in this case by the government?” McLean asked him.
Locke said no, adding that he refused the government’s offer to protect him from criminal charges if he testified.
“You ignored the advice of your lawyer?” McLean said.
“I paid him and ignored him,” Locke said.
Locke held a variety of jobs with Grace from 1974 until 1998. During his last years with the company, Robert Bettacchi supervised Locke’s work. Locke felt he had been treated unfairly when he left his job, and sued Bettacchi and Grace. That case is still pending.
When he left his job, Locke recalled saving some of the company’s documents with his name in them. Another employee had suggested he destroy them, but he took them home and kept them in his basement.
“I was concerned about my own criminal liability from my involvement with the company,” Locke said.
Locke also kept one of his old diaries in the basement, tucked away in a cigar box with canceled checks from 1976.
It was a diary he wrote in daily, recording Grace meetings and discussions. McLean asked Locke if the diary had been altered since 1976.
“It doesn’t smell mildewy anymore,” Locke said. “Otherwise, it’s the same.”
The jury was excused for a break, and Molloy and the attorneys discussed whether the diary could be used as evidence.
Defense attorneys argued that it was a personal document, and McLean said he wanted to admit it as a business document. Locke couldn’t remember some of the things that he had written about in the past, McLean said. Molloy decided not to admit the diary.
“It seems to me it’s not a business record of Grace,” he said. “If it gets to the point where (Locke) is unable to recall something, the page may be read to the jury, but not the whole document.”
During his testimony, Locke, a Harvard graduate, described his positions with Grace. Many of his jobs involved work with vermiculite products and their associated tremolite contamination. In 1992, Locke became the global vice president of Grace. Locke worked with or knew all of the five defendants who are currently on trial.
– Carly Flandro (posted 10:25)