MANHATTAN (CN) – A jury started deliberations Monday to determine whether Raj Rajaratnam, the billionaire co-founder of the Galleon hedge fund, is guilty of 14 counts related to what the government calls the largest insider-trading scheme in history.
At the end of last week, a 20th co-conspirator pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme that Rajaratnam is accused of orchestrating.
Three of those 20 co-conspirators testified against Rajaratnam at trial.
U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell cautioned jurors not to infer that Rajaratnam is guilty based on his affiliation with these people alone.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Streeter was reluctant to use much more of the jury’s time and dwindling attention as he concluded his rebuttal summation on Monday morning.
“I’m going to talk to you for less than 30 minutes,” he promised.
Over more than seven weeks, the prosecution has presented jurors with more than 40 wiretaps, hundreds of documents and several witnesses, including three government collaborators.
Two prosecutors and a defense attorney have scrutinized the evidence at great length in summations that spanned more than two days.
On Thursday, defense attorney John Dowd insisted that the case against Rajaratnam was based on a fantasy to lead jurors “down the rabbit hole,” an allusion to “Alice in Wonderland.”
Streeter shot back Monday that the defense is the party asking jurors to “ignore reality.”
Streeter defended the testimony of the three collaborating witnesses, whom Dowd accused of lying more than 30 times on Friday. Dowd essentially argued that the witnesses confessed and testified to crimes they did not commit, the prosecutor added.
“Common sense tells you that is absurd,” Streeter said.
Holwell instructed jurors that they could weigh whether the cooperating witnesses would gain more from lying or telling the truth.
Dowd regularly downplayed the wiretapped phone calls as “snippets” of innocuous conversation.
Streeter turned the word against him by saying that Dowd used “snippets” of witness testimony “out of context” to his client’s benefit.
Though Dowd had said Anil Kumar “admitted” that there was no inside-trading conspiracy, Streeter had ignored the rest of the witness’s testimony.
Kumar had said he did not initially realize that Rajaratnam wanted him to provide inside tips, but discovered otherwise as time passed, Streeter said.
Dowd also criticized the government for not calling former Galleon employees Roomy Khan, Kris Chellum and Krish Panu, and former New Castle hedge-fund trader Danielle Chiesi, who are central to several of the allegations against Rajaratnam.
All of their voices, except for Khan’s, were heard on wiretaps during the trial.
“The defense can call witnesses, too,” Streeter replied, “and those people are close associates of Mr. Rajaratnam.”
Rajaratnam did not testify in his defense.
Holwell said jurors could not draw any inferences from that, either.
Streeter ended summations by contrasting what the defense “wants you to believe” with what the evidence showed.
He repeated that refrain more than 10 times.
“You know better than to accept the [defense’s] twisted, completely implausible explanation for the evidence,” Streeter concluded.
If convicted on all counts, Rajaratnam faces up to 25 years in prison.