NEW YORK – The trial of a Colorado businessman accused of ripping off thousands of donors who contributed $25 million to a campaign to build a wall along the southern US border ended in court on Tuesday after a jury found it wrong featured former presidential adviser Steve Bannon in an indictment once unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
The trial of Timothy Shea’s charges was allowed by US District Judge Analisa Torres after the jury reported it for the third time it could not judge in any case to say that the standstill was “extremely clear”. They said extensive deliberations had “further anchored them in our opposing views.”
Turmoil during jury deliberations was uncovered last week when 11 jurors sent the judge a note saying one juror complaining about a “state witch hunt” had shown “political bias” the rest of them considered Liberals referred and complained that the trial should have occurred in a southern state.
US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that the trial “in no way diminishes our resolve or our belief in the strong and compelling evidence which we firmly believe will prove his guilt.”
He added: “We look forward to retrying this case as soon as possible.” However, a retrial was unlikely before the autumn.
Shea and his attorney did not comment as they exited the courthouse.
After two previous notes last week suggested a standstill, the judge had asked the jury to try again.
Shea was left alone in court after Bannon, a former aide to then-President Donald Trump, was pardoned. And two other defendants pleaded guilty. The case was followed up in New York after it was discovered that the fund’s donors were from across the country, including New York.
Charges of conspiracy and falsifying records were brought against Shea after questions arose about how funds from a “We Build The Wall” campaign, which raised about $25 million for a wall, were being spent. Only a few kilometers of wall were built.
Prosecutors said Shea and other fund organizers promised investors all donations would fund a wall, but Shea and the others ended up pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars for themselves.
Shea’s attorneys claimed that he acted with honor and committed no crime regarding the fundraiser.
Shea of Castle Rock, Colorado, owns an energy drink company, Winning Energy, whose cans feature a cartoon superhero image of Trump and claim “12 oz. of liberal tears.”
Disagreements among the jurors were first revealed Thursday when 11 jurors said in their note to the judge that they unanimously called for one juror to be replaced by another juror. They said the juror had expressed an anti-government bias.
In response to the note, the judge questioned the jury in her dressing room, with attorneys present on both sides.
Among her questions, Torres asked him if he had any prejudices or personal views that prevent him from being a fair and impartial juror.
He said he didn’t. So she left him on the jury.
After twice filing for a trial Thursday, defense attorney John Meringolo renewed his written filing Friday for many of the same reasons as the day before.
He said the jury broke confidentiality rules by disclosing too much in its note calling for a juror to be disqualified, and he said the judge inappropriately referred to political views when she gave them a so-called Allen prosecution, which should give new energy to the deliberations.
Meringolo said those instructions, given Thursday’s events, could only have been taken to single out the jury “and pressured him to reach a verdict.”
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https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/06/07/we-build-the-wall-trial-ends-in-mistrial-jury-deadlocked/ We Build The Wall process ends in mistrial; jury deadlocked