December 20, 2004
Westar mistrial

Looks like the federal prosecutors for the money laundering trial of former Westar CEO David Wittig aren't as good as the ones here on the Enron task force.

The federal fraud trial of former Westar Energy Inc. chief executive David Wittig and his top deputy -- accused of trying to loot the company -- ended today in a mistrial after jurors could not reach a verdict on more than half the charges.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson decided not to hear the jury's verdict on the remaining charges, all of which related to money laundering. The jury deliberated for more than six days after a trial that lasted more than seven weeks.

The jury deadlocked on a single charge of conspiracy, and several counts of wire fraud and circumventing internal accounting controls. Robinson had directed the jury to resume deliberations on Friday after they initially reported they could not reach a verdict on those counts.

Wittig, of Topeka, and former Westar executive vice president Douglas T. Lake, of New Canaan, Conn., each faced a total of 40 counts related to allegations they tried to loot the largest electric utility in Kansas. The pair left Westar late in 2002; Wittig resigned, and Westar's directors placed Lake on an indefinite and unpaid leave.

Because the court did not record a verdict, prosecutors can retry the case. Robinson scheduled a status conference for Jan. 4 to discuss how to proceed.

Lots of background on Westar in various posts here. Thanks to AJ Garcia for the tip.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 20, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack