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Mistrial declared in former New Jersey prosecutor's case

The trial of a former federal prosecutor has ended in a mistrial. The New Jersey prosecutor is accused of conspiring to commit homicide, as well as racketeering and drug trafficking.

His trial in Newark lasted five weeks before it was handed off to jurors. They came back to the court after six days, saying they were hopelessly deadlocked in their deliberations despite having "exhaustively reviewed" the evidence presented.

The seven men and five women of the jury were relieved of their duties by the U.S. District Court judge.

Prosecutors in the case argued that their former colleague orchestrated the 2004 murder of a 30-year-old government informant. They said the former prosecutor did so in order to avoid identification as a participant in a drug trafficking venture.

The former Essex County prosecutor and assistant U.S. attorney represented himself in court, arguing that witnesses against him were hoping to cut deals in their own pending criminal cases.

If convicted, he faces a possible life sentence.

However, he now faces a retrial scheduled to begin in early January.

The judge in the trial just concluded said he wasn't convinced that the government had made its case.

"The concern I have is whether there was sufficient evidence to tie the motive theory" to the murder, the judge said.

Nevertheless, prosecutors said they look forward to the new trial in front of a new jury.

They claim that the former prosecutor worked as "house counsel" for a gang of drug dealers, the leader of which is now in prison.

The jurors heard the testimony of a man who claims he shot the victim three times after being told by the defendant that without the victim the members of the gang would face no criminal charges.

The man who admitted to the shooting is currently serving 30 years in prison.

Source: Bloomberg: "Mistrial Declared in Murder Case of Ex-Prosecutor Bergrin," David Voreacos, Nov. 23, 2011

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