Late disclosure in Backpage case may spell bother for prosecution

As an almost deadlocked jury continues to grapple with 100 felony
counts stacked in opposition to former house owners and operators of,
prosecutors appear to have inadvertently thrown one more wrench within the

In a Wednesday listening to to resolve whether or not a doc disclosed by prosecutors final week ought to have been handed over earlier as what’s often called “Jencks materials,”
protection attorneys instructed the presiding choose that on Tuesday evening they
acquired one other new doc from prosecutors: an e-mail from the
authorities’s star witness to the IRS investigator tasked with monitoring the defendants’ belongings. 

District Choose Diane Humetewa, a Barack Obama appointee, dominated
Wednesday morning {that a} 90-page draft asset monitoring report ready by
IRS investigator Lyndon Versoza will not be Jencks materials because it doesn’t
represent an announcement made by a witness within the case. 

Prosecutors despatched the doc to protection attorneys
final week in anticipation of a civil forfeiture continuing, which might
observe a responsible verdict on any of the 49 cash laundering counts going through
Backpage co-founder Michael Lacey and two former executives Scott Spear
and John Brunst.

Protection attorneys argued that as a result of one other
IRS investigator who did testify, Quoc Thai, had reviewed the doc
earlier than it was despatched to the federal government, it constituted an announcement by
Thai. Choose Humetewa disagreed as a result of Thai testified Tuesday that he
made solely “beauty modifications” to the doc, like organizing the desk
of contents and enhancing for spelling and grammar. He added that he
didn’t depend on the doc in preparation for his testimony. 

The doc consists of statements made by former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, who testified
in opposition to the Backpage group as a part of a plea deal. Protection attorneys
argued these statements may have been used to cross-examine Ferrer;
the federal government countered that every part in that doc was disclosed
in discovery within the type of different paperwork and confirmed a
paragraph-by-paragraph comparability between the draft report and different
paperwork disclosed in discovery.

“There shouldn’t be shock,”
Humetewa mentioned. “It has not been refuted that the entire info has
been beforehand produced.”

Whereas she decided in a preliminary
ruling that the doc wasn’t Jencks materials, the choose will additional
think about whether or not something in it could possibly be thought-about exculpatory to any
of the 5 defendants. 

She’ll need to make the identical choice
about an e-mail despatched from Ferrer to Versoza in 2018, which apparently
particulars the outcomes of Ferrer’s plea cut price, together with how a lot cash
he was allowed to retain from forfeiture to make use of for his authorized protection. 

The federal government despatched the e-mail to protection attorneys round 5 p.m. Tuesday. It’s unclear why they despatched it then.

Cambria, representing Lacey, mentioned the e-mail is “clearly” Jencks
materials since it is a direct assertion from Ferrer associated to his
testimony that attorneys may have used to cross-examine him. 

Eisenberg and Pleasure Bertand, representing Andrew Padilla and Joye Vaught,
who served as moderators for Backpage, added that something within the newly
disclosed materials may have modified the minds of jurors, who
apparently can’t make up their minds on 99 of the 100 counts earlier than

Humetewa mentioned she hadn’t but seen the newly disclosed e-mail
on the time of the evidentiary listening to, so she is going to want time to evaluate
it earlier than additional dialogue. Neither the e-mail nor a movement relating to
it has been entered into the court docket docket as of two p.m.

Later, the
jury requested Humetewa by way of a be aware whether or not good religion could be utilized as a
protection to all counts, versus solely making use of to particular counts.
Humetewa instructed jurors that good religion could be utilized to all counts.

Two jurors instructed Humetewa Tuesday that they concern they received’t come to a unanimous choice on a lot of the counts. 

5 defendants are charged with one depend of conspiracy to facilitate
prostitution in violation of the U.S. Journey Act and 50 counts of
facilitating prostitution in violation of the Journey Act,
represented within the indictment by 50 grownup service adverts posted to
Backpage the prosecutors say marketed prostitution. The remaining 49
counts are made up of cash laundering fees lobbed at Lacey, Spear
and Brunst. 

As of Tuesday, the jury had come to a unanimous choice on solely one of many 100 counts.