While the trial of former Tyco executives Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz ended in mistrial last week, another high-profile Tyco trial is set to begin this month, with possible ramifications for Kozlowski and Swartz.
Prosecutors in other white-collar cases such as Enron and WorldCom, have focused on making deals with lower-ranking executives to shore up their cases against the top officials. Mark Belnick, former general counsel under former chief executive Kozlowski, is due in court this week with his trial slated to start April 12.
New York state Supreme Court Judge Michael Obus declared a mistrial in the high-profile trial of Kozlowski and Swartz, citing undue external influence over one juror, who had found herself in the midst of a media firestorm after allegedly making an "OK" gesture in court.
Apparently, jurors were very close to a guilty verdict on grand larceny, the most serious of the theft charges against Kozlowski and Swartz, when the judge declared the mistrial. The charges have a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
"We virtually had a verdict," said juror Peter McEntegart, who told CNN that the jury was near convicting them on larceny charges, but acquitting on others. "A half an hour, an hour, and we would have been done."
So as they await their second trial, free on bond, Kozlowski and Swartz can worry about the outcome of Belnick's trial and revelations that are sure to have an impact on Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau's case against them. Morganthau has charged Belnick of illegally taking a $12 million bonus. He charged Kozlowski and Swartz of stealing $600 million in unapproved compensation and profits gained illicitly from share sales, the Financial Times reported.
Some think Belnick's trial could be postponed since it is scheduled to begin so close to the end of the first trial, in which guilty verdicts were apparently imminent before the mistrial.