Trials & Litigation
Pro Se Ex-Prosecutor Accused of Conspiring to Murder an FBI Informant Wins a Mistrial
Posted Nov 23, 2011 1:30 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Updated: Saying that the jury was hopelessly deadlocked in its sixth day of deliberations, a federal judge today declared a mistrial in the case of New Jersey attorney Paul Bergrin, the Star-Ledger reports.
The former state and federal prosecutor could have faced a life sentence if he was convicted on either of the two counts he faced concerning his alleged role in a claimed conspiracy to murder a FBI informant.
He has been in custody since 2009, awaiting trial not only in this case but in an unusual federal racketeering case in which he is accused of operating his law firm as a criminal enterprise, along with a high-class prostitution business and acting as a supplier of cocaine to a drug ring.
There was confusion over whether the government has decided to retry the 55-year-old Bergrin, who defended himself pro se at trial in the Newark case:
“While it is disappointing the jury was unable to reach a verdict, we are fully prepared for the next trial," said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman in a written statement provided to the newspaper.
However, news reports varied in their understanding of whether the "next trial" referred to in Fishman's statement is a retrial of the case that concluded today or an upcoming trial in the 31-count federal racketeering case Bergrin faces.
A Reuters article details the post-mistrial developments and says U.S. District Judge William Martini has scheduled a new trial on Jan. 4.
A former federal prosecutor in the office Fishman now heads, as well as a former New Jersey state prosecutor, Bergrin went on to develop a high-profile private criminal defense practice in Newark representing rap stars, among others.
He did not comment to the media about the outcome of the trial before being taken back into custody this morning, the Star-Ledger reports.
But his cousin, Ronald Bergrin, said "We are extremely disappointed in the outcome," describing the prosecution's case as based on "witnesses who were taken out of their cells and put on the witness stand to say what the government wanted them to say."
ABAJournal.com: "When Is a Law Firm Allegedly Part of a RICO Criminal Enterprise? 3rd Circuit Explains"
ABAJournal.com: "Expanded New RICO Indictment Accuses Alleged Rogue Attorney of More Law-Firm-Related Crimes"
ABAJournal.com: "Drug Dealers Made Up Story of Witness Murder Conspiracy, Pro Se Defense Lawyer Tells Federal Jury"
ABAJournal.com: "Jury Still Deliberating in Criminal Case Against NJ Lawyer Accused of Plotting Witness Hit"
Last updated at 1:36 p.m. to include Reuters coverage.