Righthand man for former Norfolk sheriff testifies in federal corruption case

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Former Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe’s righthand man took the stand the Thursday in his federal corruption trial.

Mike Koceja spent 27 years with the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office. In 2007, he was promoted to undersheriff.

Koceja told the jury in federal court in Norfolk Thursday that he and McCabe went on several lavish trips paid for by either ABL or Correct Care Solutions. The companies were contracted to provide the jail with food and medical services, respectively.

The trips included going to see Brooks & Dunn in Nashville, a Richard Petty driving experience and fishing trips to Florida.

“When I was approached by the FBI, [I] was freaking out,” Koceja told the jury. “He was hard for me to move forward and do the right thing.”

Koceja even says he was given $1,800 one Christmas from Correct Case Solutions.

He told the court he was demoted four ranks to lieutenant in 2007. He believes it was because McCabe feared that he would run against him for sheriff. Koceja lost $16,000 a year and was removed from the head of Norfolk’s Democratic Party.

“It was a big blow,” Koceja said.

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Koceja says told a Correct Care Solutions employee about bids on the jail medical contract in 2004. Correct Care Solutions at the time wasn’t the lowest bidder, but that changed after the phone call. Correct Care Solutions won the $3.6 million contract.

McCabe’s attorney James Broccoletti says Koceja isn’t credible. Koceja started talking to the FBI in 2016. He had 11 interviews and never mentioned the phone conversation until just a couple of months ago. Broccoletti says that was because that phone call never happened.

McCabe is accused of giving both Correct Care Solutions and ABL inside information on contracts and in return was given trips, gifts and campaign donations.

Prosecutors went through emails between McCabe and Correct Care Solutions or ABL. In February 2001, McCabe wrote to Correct Care Solutions President Jerry Boyle to tell him a company wanted to be put on the medical bid list.

McCabe would routinely thank Boyle and ABL President John Appleton for the gifts and trips.

“Hope I can count on you for the attached event,” McCabe wrote to Boyle. The attached event was a McCabe campaign event.

McCabe was charged by the FBI in 2017. He is facing 11 charges of public corruption.

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