A mistrial has been declared in the fraud and bribery trial of two American Samoa officials, according to The Blog of Legal Times.
Lt. Gov. Aitofele Sunia and American Samoa lawmaker Tini Lam Yuen, a senator in the territorial legislature, were charged with fraud and bribery.
The trial, before Judge Reggie Walton in federal court in the District of Columbia, began Jan. 12 and the jury had been deliberating for more than two weeks when it announced on Tuesday that it was deadlocked. Eleven of the jurors said they favored acquittal.
Federal prosecutors in the 2007 indictment of Sunia and Yuen allege that they used their political positions and relationships to secure contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for companies under their control, BLT reported. Under the contracts, the companies supplied classroom and library furniture to the American Samoa Department of Education.
Stephen Anthony, a partner at Covington & Burling and a lead attorney for Sunia, told BLT the jury deliberated “carefully and thoroughly” in the case. He added, “It was clear the jury paid close attention to the evidence.” Sunia also was represented by Covington & Burling partner Emily Henn. Yuen was represented by Michele Peterson, an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C.
When the indictment was issued, Lanny Breuer, then a partner at Covington & Burling, was lead counsel for Sunia and appeared in court several times. He withdrew from the case in February 2009, a month after being nominated to head the criminal division at the Justice Department. He recused himself from participating in the prosecution of the case.
The case was prosecuted by DOJ trial attorneys Matthew Stennes and Kathryn Albrecht of the Public Integrity Section. They did not comment on whether DOJ plans to prosecute Sunia and Yuen again, BLT reports.