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For the defendant in a multi-million dollar fraud case, it was not a good sign when a juror walked into deliberations wearing a T-shirt that said, "American Greed."
After the jury returned a guilty verdict, the defense attorney filed a motion to interview the juror to find out if he had pre-judged the case and influenced other jurors. The trial judge denied the motion, and an appeals court affirmed.
In United States of America v. Nerey, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said the juror's T-shirt message was not enough to prove he was unfair. After all, the court noted, it's a television show.
American Greed is a documentary focusing on history's largest financial crimes. Starring Stacy Keach, the show has been running for eleven seasons.
In the case against Carlos Rodriguez Nerey, prosecutors showed how the defendant defrauded Medicare. He was sentenced to five years in prison in a $2.3 million scheme that referred patients to health care agencies in exchange for kickbacks.
Six people were charged with crimes in the enterprise. Everyone pled guilty except Nerey, who was convicted after trial of two counts for defrauding the government.
Nerey appealed on several grounds, but the Eleventh Circuit said the evidence against him was overwhelming. The "T-shirt motion" didn't go over well either.
The appeals court said the juror's T-shirt did "not prove his inability to serve as an impartial juror or to follow the instructions of the court."
"Additionally, it is worth noting that juror number four wore this T-shirt in the presence of other jurors for at most only a few hours on the second day of deliberations," the panel said. "His choice of clothing, while perhaps juvenile and imprudent, does not bring into question the validity of the jury's verdict, which was unanimous."
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