The jury considering insider trading charges against a wealthy hedge fund boss who became one of America's richest citizens was forced to restart its deliberations Wednesday after a juror who deliberated with the panel for the last week became sick and had to be replaced.
The change led U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell to give jurors the unusual instruction that they were to begin their work anew in the case against Raj Rajaratnam, the 53-year-old Galleon Group founder who was permitted to remain out of court himself Wednesday after undergoing emergency foot surgery earlier in the week. They completed their work for the day without reaching a verdict.
The Sri Lankan-born hedge fund boss was accused by the government of earning more than $68 million in illegal profits through trades that relied on inside information gleaned from a close network of former schoolmates from University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School and contacts at public companies willing to divulge secrets. Lawyers for Rajaratnam, who was once worth more than a billion dollars, told jurors that their client only acted on information that was already public.
The shake-up in deliberations led Assistant U.S. Attorney Reed Brodsky to repeat his request that jurors be allowed to take with them to the jury room transcripts of taped conversations between Rajaratnam and others that were shown to jurors during the trial.
He noted that jurors after resuming deliberations with the addition of an alternate juror had asked to hear some of the same conversations they had heard last week.
"I wouldn't do this, your honor, if I didn't think it was critically important to the government that all the evidence is back there," Brodsky said. "Obviously, great evidence is back there, and some of these calls are fantastic for the government. I love the fact that they are listening to these calls and they want these calls."
John Dowd, a lawyer for Rajaratnam, urged the judge to continue to exclude the transcripts from the jury room.
"The best evidence is what they've heard," Dowd said.
The judge did not immediately rule on Brodsky's request.
Associated Press Writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.
Follow Larry Neumeister at http://twitter.com/Lneumeister