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High Court Takes Up Double-Jeopardy Case

WASHINGTON (CN) - A former senator from Puerto Rico persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to decide whether double jeopardy shields him from a second corruption trial.

The charges against former Sen. Hector Martinez-Maldonado stems from a trip he took from Puerto Rico to Las Vegas in 2005.

Juan Bravo-Fernandez, the president of Puerto Rican private-security firm Ranger American, had paid for the trip, which brought the man to a boxing match between "Tito" Trinidad and "Winky" Wright.

The government said the trip greased Martinez's support of legislation that benefitted Bravo's company, and a grand jury indicted the men on bribery charges in June 2010.

After a three-week trial in 2011 ended with split verdicts for each defendant, however, the First Circuit vacated the convictions and remanded for possible retrial of the bribery counts under Section 666 of Title 18.

This prompted a second appeal, but the effort sputtered last year at the First Circuit.

Martinez and Bravo failed to sway the Boston-based federal appeals court that double jeopardy barred new prosecution of an offense related to issues on which they were acquitted in the earlier trial.

Relevant here, the jury had convicted each defendant of federal program bribery under Section 666 but had acquitted both men of conspiracy to violate Section 666 and of violating the Travel Act in furtherance of violating Section 666.

The First Circuit meanwhile vacated the stand-alone convictions under Section 666, setting them up for possible retrial. Other convictions reversed for Bravo alone are not at issue here.

Martinez and Bravo argued that the vacated convictions ordered the trial court to enter judgments of acquittal on the Section 666 convictions, but the trial court disagreed and denied the motion.

The men then moved for acquittal, a maneuver that proved unsuccessful.

With the First Circuit siding with the government last year, they secured a writ of certiorari Monday.

Per its custom, the Supreme Court did not issue any comment on the case.

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