Jury in Backpage trial caught in impasse

After 4 days of deliberation, it appears a jury isn’t any nearer to a verdict on the 100 felony counts stacked in opposition to former house owners and operators of Backpage.com

juror despatched a observe to the presiding choose within the federal case Tuesday
afternoon indicating that the 12-person jury has come to a unanimous
resolution on solely one of many 100 counts.

“I really feel that private
emotions, feelings and what-if opinions have introduced us to a
standstill,” a juror wrote within the observe. “I really feel this has develop into a hung

Two jurors signed the observe. Final week, jurors requested the choose what occurs if they’ll’t agree on each rely. 

a jury can’t make a decision on a number of counts, the jury is
thought-about hung. Typically this results in a retrial on whichever counts
weren’t determined. 

This case is already in its second trial. The primary was declared a mistrial in 2021.

jury was tasked with deliberating expenses in opposition to Michael Lacey,
co-founder and former proprietor of the labeled promoting web site Backpage,
two former executives and two former workers, who’re collectively
accused of facilitating prostitution in violation of the U.S. Journey Act
and cash laundering by way of their operation of Backpage. 

Federal prosecutors say the web site’s grownup part ran rampant with prostitution adverts
disguised as authorized grownup companies like escorts and sensual physique rubs.
Fifty of the 100 counts within the federal indictment apply to 50 particular
adverts that ran on the location earlier than the FBI shut it down in 2018. 

first rely, utilized to all defendants, is conspiracy to facilitate
prostitution. Counts 52 by way of 100 are cash laundering expenses introduced
in opposition to Lacey and the 2 different executives: former chief monetary
officer John Brunst and former govt vice chairman Scott Spear. 

jury additionally requested the choose for a definition of the time period “concealment,”
indicating disagreement over the cash laundering expenses. U.S. District
Choose Diane Humetewa, a Barack Obama appointee, gave the jury a
definition, and referred to as jurors into the courtroom to reiterate earlier
directions, telling them to take their time, take into account all of the
proof, and to reevaluate their very own opinions to succeed in a unanimous

Earlier within the day, the jury requested the choose whether or not a
defendant could be convicted on a number of of the particular prostitution
expenses in the event that they’re discovered harmless of the underlying conspiracy cost.

“The apparent reply is sure,” Humetewa stated to the events, who had gathered to debate what reply to submit again to the jury.

The federal government agreed, reasoning that every rely within the indictment must be thought-about individually. 

attorneys differed. They informed Humetewa {that a} defendant should be discovered
to be a part of a conspiracy to be discovered responsible of any actions taken in
help of that conspiracy. 

In the end, Humetewa informed the jury “sure.”

Protection attorneys lodged their sixth movement for mistrial final week, this time claiming that prosecutors didn’t disclose a doc that ought to have been offered in discovery. 

doc is a 90-page draft of an “asset tracing report” ready by an
IRS investigator in anticipation of a civil forfeiture continuing,
assuming a responsible verdict on the cash laundering counts. The federal government
despatched protection attorneys the doc Wednesday.

Gary Lincenberg, representing Brunst, informed Humetewa
Tuesday that the data within the draft contradicts statements made
by IRS investigator Quoc Thai throughout his testimony in trial, and that
the protection might have used the doc to question each Thai and Carl
Ferrer, former Backpage CEO who took a plea deal and testified in opposition to
the defendants. 

However the authorities identified
that every one the data included within the draft was copied into civil
forfeiture affidavits that had been already disclosed to defendants in
discovery. So, the doc didn’t comprise any info that
defendants didn’t already possess at time of trial.

clarified that neither Thai nor Ferrer had fingers in writing or approving
the doc, so it doesn’t qualify as a witness assertion that ought to
have been disclosed.

The evidentiary listening to barely obtained off the
floor earlier than Lincenberg struck a nerve with Humetewa in suggesting that
her regard of the doc “goes in opposition to frequent sense.”

Lincenberg, you strive my endurance on quite a few events,” she chastised.
“By no means in my time on the bench have I been accused of going in opposition to
frequent sense.”

Humetewa threatened to ask Lincenberg’s co-counsel
to take over for him, to which Lacey muttered “Jesus Christ,” underneath his
breath, simply audible sufficient to be heard by the entire courtroom.

“And I’ll have silence within the courtroom,” Humetewa chided. 

“I didn’t say something,” Lacey’s legal professional Paul Cambria replied. “I didn’t say something.”

The evidentiary listening to to determine whether or not the draft doc ought to have been disclosed will proceed at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.