NEW YORK (AP) — A jury said it was deadlocked Thursday in its deliberations on charges against a Colorado businessman accused of defrauding thousands of investors in a wall along the US southern border hours after 11 jurors turned on a juror, accusing him of “politics”. bias” and saying that he had labeled the rest of them as liberals.
U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres denied a defense request to declare a mistrial and instead read out a so-called “Allen charge,” designed to spark productive deliberations Friday in Timothy Shea’s trial. The jurors were then sent home.
The first four defendants in the case included Steve Bannon, an adviser to former President Donald Trump who was pardoned by Trump early last year. Two others pleaded guilty to the charges.
The charge related to a “We Build the Wall” campaign that raised approximately $25 million for a wall. Only a few kilometers of wall have been built. Prosecutors said Shea and other fundraisers promised investors that all donations would fund a wall, but Shea and others ultimately siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars for themselves.
Shea, of Castle Rock, Colorado, owns an energy drink company, Winning Energy, whose cans featured a cartoon superhero image of Trump and claimed to contain “12 oz. liberal tears.
Earlier Thursday, 11 jurors said in a note to the judge that they were unanimously asking for a juror to be replaced by a substitute juror because the juror had shown anti-government bias and accused everyone else of to be liberals.
In their lengthy note, the jurors told Torres that the juror said such things as “the government witch hunt” and accused the government of taking the case to New York because it “knew that the people here vote differently”. The memo says the juror added that the trial “should have been tried in a southern state.”
Jurors also accused the juror of saying, “Tim Shea is a good man. He doesn’t beat his wife.
After the jurors requested that the juror be substituted, Torres interviewed him in his locker room with attorneys from both sides present. She asked him several questions aimed at determining whether he was biased.
The hearing, which was not public, produced answers that led the judge to order the jurors to resume deliberation. Ninety minutes later, they sent back a note that read, “We cannot agree to a unanimous verdict on any of the counts.”
Defense attorney John Meringolo had requested a mistrial hours earlier, saying the jury revealed so much about the deliberations in their memo that they violated instructions to keep their talks secret. After the deadlock note, he resumed his request for a mistrial and the judge again denied it.