Trials are often an ordeal for all concerned. In a jury trial, jurors' ordinary lives are disrupted. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are under pressure to perform. Judges must oversee it all fairly. And the accused, in a criminal trial, usually faces the prospect of prison time.
Given these dynamics, a trial that lasts a month is quite a long time. But that is the duration of a trial on money laundering charges that is now before a federal jury in Miami.
The case concerns an alleged investment scam involving life insurance policies. Federal prosecutors assert that a company controlled by a wealthy businessman took more than $1 billion in insurance policies owned by people suffering from AIDS and sold them to investors who lost more than $800 million of the money in a Ponzi scheme.
Prosecutors charge that the business man and his live-in partner laundered money from those sales. This was allegedly done through residential real estate purchases and hiding assets.
In addition to money laundering, the charges against the two men include conspiracy and obstruction of justice. During the trial this month, the businessman testified that no fraud occurred at the company he ran.
The Securities and Exchange Commission shut down the company in 2004. A receiver eventually recovered about $120 million for the company's investors. Prosecutors contended that the two men tried to hinder the receiver's efforts.
Several former employees of the business have already pleaded guilty in the case and been sentenced to prison. Clearly, then, much is riding on the decision the jury will soon render on the two defendants whose fate is in their hands.
Source: "Jurors deliberating in money-laundering trial linked to South Florida 'Ponzi scheme'," The Miami Herald, 2-28-13