Oct 5, 2011 9:22 PM by Amanda Venegas
BILLINGS - The defense begins to present its case in the cocaine conspiracy trial of Dr. Jerome Mancuso. Wednesday was day three in the trial of the well-known Billings oral surgeon. He faces five felony charges for possessing and distributing cocaine.
Even with the testimony of the defense, the prosecution's witnesses made some shocking allegations. Mancuso's defense called seven witnesses to the stand ranging from a former patient, to a Billings Clinic surgeon, to a prominent pastor's wife. Those witnesses told the court, Mancuso never acted like he was under the influence of drugs and said he was a skilled surgeon and a friendly neighbor. However, two of his former friends painted a very different picture of Mancuso's other life.
Former Billings resident Blair Anderson said he befriended Mancuso as a teenager working at Enzo's restaurant. He said after his 2001 graduation, he brought cocaine back to Billings from California and Arizona and would hang out at Mancuso's house, spending one to two nights and using cocaine.While Elliot says Mancuso never asked him to get cocaine, The two would use it.. And then Mancuso would store it in his bathroom.
Another friend, former Enzo's manager Laurent Zirotti told the court, the two became friends and used cocaine at Mancuso's home and office. Zirotti said things took a turn when the two decided to purchase two ounces of cocaine from Elliot. Zirotti testified that he became addicted and had to take a break. He said both men kept their cocaine use a secret from their wives. Both men are receiving immunity based on their testimony. The prosecution
Wednesday afternoon, the defense's seven witnesses took the stand with a different message. Dr. Robert Hurd, a Billings Clinic surgeon, said Dr. Mancuso was a skilled doctor and helped out at the hospital. His former office manager at the Rocky Mountain Center for Oral and Facial Surgery, Beth Cross, said she cleaned his office daily and never saw any evidence of cocaine use or suspected anything strange.His former housekeeper and nanny, Cande Solie, said she never found any cocaine in Mancuso's house. Mancuso's neighbor, Ginger Simmons, the director of Women's Ministries at Faith Chapel and wife of Pastor Stan Simmons, said the Mancuso family lived across the street from them and she never saw any suspicious activity going on.
The prosecution concluded their case on Wednesday. The case is before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull's federal courtroom. The trial is set to resume at 8:30 am Thursday.