The Bear Stearns building rises high above Park Avenue in Manhattan, but the trial of two of its ex-hedge fund executives played out in a Brooklyn courtroom.
And that seems to have confused the jurors and raised questions in their deliberations, which began yesterday.
The WSJ Law Blog reports that jurors sent a note to the judge asking that he, “Please explain venue further.”
In their closing arguments, defence attorneys argued that the case should have been brought in Manhattan; prosecutors responded that some of the alleged victims lived in the New York’s eastern district (which includes Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and counties on Long Island), that Bear Stearns had operations in the district and that defendant MatthewTannin had a conversation relevant to the alleged conspiracy at JFK airport in Queens.
The Law Blog notes that the judge’s instructions to the jury on two of the counts informed them that “the government needed to prove that the defendants committed an overt act in New York’s eastern district that was in furtherance of the conspiracy…”
So, the obvious question is if the jury inquiry means that they think Tannin and co-defendant Ralph Cioffi committed the crime the two counts relate to, but are just unsure where they did it. But, that, of course, is just conjecture — maybe they were just working their way through instructions and wanted to be clear on everything before they even started deliberating.
The wait for the jury to come back is nothing but guesswork until they actually come back, and for that, we’ll all just have to keep waiting.
The venue question is important on only two of the counts — the defendants have not challenged venue on the insider trading charge against Cioffi or two other instances of wire fraud.
DealBook’s Zachary Kouwe breaks down the additional evidence the jury asked to see, which included exhibits about how much money Cioffi and Tannin made at the firm, as well as how Cioffi’s pay was tied to the performance of the funds. The jurors, Kouwe notes, also asked for Wednesday off.
Tannin and Cioffi face as much as 20 years in jail.
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