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Ex-Massachusetts Treasurer’s Trial Ends in Jury Deadlock

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Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- A mistrial was declared after a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on charges that former Massachusetts Treasurer Timothy Cahill misused state lottery advertising funds in his failed campaign for governor.

The jury of seven women and five men in state court in Boston today told Suffolk Superior Court Judge Christine Roach it was deadlocked. Deliberations began Dec. 4. Scott Campbell, Cahill’s former campaign manager, was acquitted yesterday of conspiracy and procurement fraud in the case.

Cahill, 54, was accused of giving the go-ahead, as state treasurer, to spend 75 percent of the lottery’s ad budget on TV and radio spots that promoted his 2010 campaign, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said in April. Prosecutors said he planned to use $1.5 million of public money.

“I’m very happy with the outcome,” Cahill said outside the courtroom. “I did my job and I think the jury saw that.”

Cahill was charged with two counts of conspiracy and one count each of procurement fraud and using his office for unwarranted privileges. He faced as long as five years in prison if convicted.

Documents showed there was coordination between Cahill’s campaign for governor and the lottery, Coakley said. Although the ads didn’t name Cahill, they said that the lottery was “consistently well-managed.” His effectiveness in managing the lottery and allocating ticket revenue to municipalities was one of his key campaign points, she said.

Ethics Laws

This was the first time criminal charges had been brought under state ethics laws that were made tougher in 2009.

In his closing arguments Dec. 4, Cahill’s lawyer, Jeffrey Denner, said the ads were aired to defend the lottery against political advertising placed by the Republican Governors Association that maligned its management. He said the RGA ran the spots out of fear that its candidate, Charlie Baker, was falling behind Cahill with voters.

Cahill, who ran as an independent, lost the race to incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick.

“We consider this to be vindication,” Brad Bailey, another attorney for Cahill, said. “We hope it sends a message that the proper place for these cases is in a civil context.”

‘She Can’

Asked about the prospect of another attempt by Coakley to try him, Cahill said, “She can do whatever she wants to do.”

Coakley said at a press conference today that she hasn’t decided whether to try Cahill again.

“It was neither frivolous nor arbitrary to bring this case and ask a jury to decide it,” Coakley said today. “We found significant evidence he attempted to use $1.5 million in taxpayer money as if it was his own campaign account and to the detriment of the state lottery. Faced with this evidence, we could not ignore it and did not.”

The prosecutors hadn’t proved a conspiracy “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a juror who didn’t want to give his name told reporters outside the courtroom. He said the jurors “had strong feelings and they communicated that from time to time.”

After the jury was dismissed, Assistant Attorney General James O’Brien asked the judge to set a conference on the case for Jan. 4.

Cahill’s wife, Tina, told reporters the case was a “huge financial burden” on her family and Campbell’s. She said her husband took out $50,000 in loans from family members to pay for his defense.

Alfred Grazioso, the former chief of staff of the lottery, is awaiting trial on charges of obstructing justice during the attorney general’s probe.

The case is Commonwealth v. Cahill, SUCR2012-10348, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Superior Court (Boston).

To contact the reporters on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net; Janelle Lawrence in Boston at jmlawrence@me.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net