Mistrial declared in case of former banker

Saturday, October 25, 2003

NEW YORK -- A federal judge declared a mistrial Friday in the obstruction-of-justice trial of Frank Quattrone, one of the nation's leading technology bankers during the Internet stock craze.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Owen came after jurors reported they were deadlocked on all three charges against the former financial star -- two counts of obstruction and one count of witness tampering. Friday was the sixth day of jury deliberations.

"This particular trial is over," Owen said to jurors. "Thanks for your service."

Quattrone, 48, showed no reaction as the mistrial was declared, and later declined to comment. His lawyer John W. Keker said: "We are disappointed because Frank Quattrone is a man of integrity and a man who followed the rules."

The mistrial sets the stage for a possible second trial of Quattrone later. Federal prosecutors, who earlier had indicated a retrial was likely in the event of a mistrial, said outside court that no decision had been made.

The case centered on an e-mail written by a subordinate and forwarded by Quattrone to his staff on Dec. 5, 2000, that encouraged employees to "catch up on file cleanup" by destroying some documents.

Quattrone added a brief endorsement to the e-mail that concluded: "I strongly advise you to follow these procedures."

Federal prosecutors contended Quattrone was aware at the time of an extensive investigation of his bank, Credit Suisse First Boston, and that he was deliberately trying to block it.

Defense attorneys contended that Quattrone, in sending the e-mail, was merely encouraging his employees to follow company policy on routinely discarding documents.

The investigation was closed in 2001 with no criminal charges filed, and the bank paid $100 million to settle related civil charges without admitting wrongdoing.

The charges carried a potential sentence of 25 years in prison -- although Quattrone would have receive a much lighter term under federal sentencing guidelines if convicted.

Jurors had reported to the judge after just two days that they were sharply divided, but the judge urged them to try harder to reach consensus.

They sent another note late Thursday, again saying they did not expect to reach a unanimous vote. Owen then asked the jurors Friday morning to deliberate "perhaps just a couple of hours" more.

Deliberations were held with just 11 jurors, one short of the standard 12, because one juror's mother had a heart attack on the day closing arguments ended.

Juror Mayo Villalona, 26, said that in their final vote Friday, eight jurors had decided Quattrone was guilty. Villalona was one of three who believed Quattrone was innocent, but said the banker's own testimony hurt him badly.

"He did a bad job going up there. I heard a lot of jurors say if he had not been a witness, it would have been not guilty the first day."

In his three days on the stand, Quattrone smiled and appeared genial under questioning from his own attorney but turning somewhat argumentative on cross-examination.

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