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Fulton-Evans Jurors Hit Snags

A federal jury reported yesterday it had reached verdicts on some counts but was deadlocked on others in the fraud trial of state Del. Tony E. Fulton, D-Balto. City, and Annapolis lobbyist Gerard E. Evans.Judge J. Frederick Motz ordered the jury of seven women and five men to continue deliberating, despite a note from the panel saying “we feel this is the best we can do.” Fulton and Evans are charged with engaging in a scheme between December 1996 and April 1999 to defraud some of Evans’ clients of as much as $400,000 in lobbying fees.“We have reached a verdict on 10 counts but hung on 12 counts,” the jury said in a note that Motz read to the courtroom at about 3 p.m. The trial, in which each defendant is charged with 11 counts of wire and mail fraud, began on June 12, and jury deliberations started Monday.While the jury waited in the deliberation room yesterday, Motz heard widely varying arguments by prosecutors and defense attorneys on what to do with the jury’s position.“We ask the court to take a partial verdict” and instruct the jury to continue deliberating the remaining 12 counts, said Asst. U.S. Attorney Dale P. Kelberman, but defense attorneys jumped to their feet instantly.Fulton’s attorney, Richard D. Bennett, told Motz he could advise his client better if he knew which of the counts the jury had agreed on.At that point, Evans’ attorney, Robert C. Bonsib, objected, saying that Kelberman’s proposal would pressure jurors to convict on the still unresolved counts.Bonsib added that the jury might not look at all of the evidence for each count if it had already entered its verdict on some of the counts.While the indictment treats Fulton and Evans the same, most of the trial focused on Evans, who testified for the best part of three days. Fulton, in contrast, testified about a half day.At least one witness said he saw Evans alter documents, an act that prosecutors say was part of the scheme, while most of the evidence against Fulton has been less specific.Motz agreed with Bonsib and ruled against accepting a partial verdict yesterday, but he sided with Kelberman on another key point.Because the jury had considered a large array of evidence — testimony from 35 witnesses and 300 exhibits during the month-long trial — Motz said the panel would have to continue deliberating before he would consider them deadlocked.Motz asked the jury to resume at 4:15 p.m. and keep working for another hour. Less than three minutes after returning to the jury room, however, jury members sent a note saying they were leaving and would return in the morning.“We are leaving at 4:30 and will be back tomorrow at 9:30. Have a good evening,” the note said.Motz told the attorneys that it was premature for him to issue a so-called dynamite or “Allen” charge, named for an 1896 Supreme Court case that encourages a deadlocked jury to reach a verdict.Motz indicated he would issue the Allen charge before declaring a mistrial on the undecided counts, however, and in keeping with Kelberman’s original proposal, he said he would accept a partial verdict the next time the jury comes back saying it is deadlocked.Each count of the indictment carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and fines up to $250,000, and each defendant and each charge stands independent of others, Motz said during jury instructions Monday.