Jury Foreman’s Bribery Trial Opens
MIAMI (AP) _ A jury foreman who allegedly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to vote for acquittal in a cocaine case was a ``traitor″ who defied a judge’s order, a prosecutor told jurors today.
Federal prosecutors say Miguel Moya bought a home in the Florida Keys, season tickets to the Florida Marlins, vacations and more after voting to acquit two men described as the nation’s top cocaine smugglers during the 1980s.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Nucci told jurors during opening statements today that Moya went against a judge’s order not to have any contact with the defendants in that trial.
``There was a traitor in that jury who was bought and paid for,″ Nucci said.
But defense attorney Curt Obront said Moya got money to fund his lavish lifestyle from a relative who was a convicted drug trafficker.
``The Moya family has a past that they are not proud of,″ he said.
The 1996 acquittals of Augusto ``Willie″ Falcon and Salvador ``Sal″ Magluta, who had been accused of making $2 billion in profits on 75 tons of cocaine smuggled into the United States, humiliated prosecutors and ultimately led to the resignation of U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey.
A representative of Falcon and Magluta contacted Moya and gave him about $500,000 for his vote and his influence on other jurors, according to a November indictment.
Jurors deliberated for three days before telling the judge they could not reach a verdict. Hours later, they returned the acquittals.
Apparently upset at the verdict, Coffey went to a club afterward. He resigned after a newspaper reported he was under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly biting a topless dancer on the arm.
Moya, an aircraft hydraulic engineer who coached youth football, faces bribery, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, money laundering and false tax return charges. If convicted on all counts, he could be sentenced to 130 years in prison.
Also indicted were his parents, Jose and Rafaela Moya. Convictions on money laundering, witness tampering and accessory charges could send them to prison for up to 62 1/2 years.
Falcon and Magluta are in prison on lesser charges filed after their cocaine trial. Moya’s trial is expected to last at least two weeks.