SALT LAKE CITY — Federal prosecutors say they will take another crack at convincing a jury that a Utah venture capitalist ran a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.
The U.S. Attorney's Office sent notice Wednesday that it intends to retry the case against Claud R. "Rick" Koerber in federal court. It asks U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby to hold a hearing for a new trial date.
“While we recognize the cost, time and energy it will take to retry this case, it is the right thing to do," U.S. Attorney John Huber said in a statement.
After weeks of testimony and seven days of deliberations, an eight-man, four-woman jury last month couldn't reach a unanimous decision. Judge David Nuffer declared a mistrial, leaving the door open for prosecutors to refile the case.
Since that time, Huber said, his office had "candid and informative" discussions with some jurors about their service in the trial.
"Immediately following the first trial, there were defense assertions that an overwhelming number of jurors were in favor of acquittal. Based upon the information volunteered to our office, those claims appear to have no merit," Huber said.
Koerber's attorney, Marcus Mumford, said his client is innocent.
"We have worked tirelessly against the government’s overreaching force to vindicate Mr. Koerber, and ultimately ensure, after this case is finally over, the government is forced to repay investors whose losses have been caused and exacerbated by the government’s actions," he said.
The 18-count indictment alleged Koerber used his businesses — Founders Capital, and related businesses Franklin Squires Investments and Franklin Squires Cos. — as a $100 million Ponzi scheme from 2004 to 2008. Prosecutors say about half the money was "redistributed" to other investors.
While investors believed their money would be used in secure real estate investments, Koerber, 44, spent it instead on flashy cars, producing a low-budget horror movie and his own lavish living, according to federal prosecutors.
Mumford said it is misleading for the government to say Koerber "redistributed" investors' money. He said the defense showed in the previous trial that almost every one of Koerber’s investors was paid back more money than they invested.
The defense team also interviewed multiple jurors and learned the failure to reach a verdict had more to with the "misbehavior" of a single juror, Mumford said. He said the juror tried to influence others in meetings outside the courtroom.Comment on this story
"When it appeared that the rest of the jury was ready to render at least a partial verdict acquitting Mr. Koerber, that one juror refused to go along and, in a last-ditch effort, tried to bargain with the other jurors — if they would just vote guilty on any one count, pick one, he would agree to acquit on the rest," Mumford said.
The allegations against Koerber mirror a previous indictment, which a federal judge dismissed in August 2014 citing a "pattern of widespread and continuous misconduct" on the part of prosecutors throughout the case.