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Silberman Found Guilty of One Count; Jury Remains Deadlocked on Five Others

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Richard T. Silberman, a former top aide to Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., was convicted Thursday of violating a federal currency law in an alleged scheme to launder drug profits. The San Diego financier was sent immediately to jail.

The jury that convicted Silberman of the single count, however, deadlocked on five other charges. U.S. District Judge J. Lawrence Irving ordered the panel back to court today for further deliberations.

Silberman faces up to 10 years in federal prison on the single count, a technical charge of structuring a transaction to avoid the paper work federal law requires for any cash transaction over $10,000.

The other counts in the case revolve around the central charges alleging that Silberman, 61, laundered $300,000 purportedly characterized by an undercover FBI agent as the proceeds of Colombian cocaine trafficking.

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Irving said that the law required him to incarcerate Silberman unless the businessman could show clearly that he was not a flight risk. In light of Silberman’s disappearance and purported suicide attempt in Las Vegas in February, Irving said there was no choice but to order him to the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown San Diego.

Silberman, 61, gasped as Irving announced the jailing. He bit his lip when the jury returned its guilty verdict but otherwise showed no emotion.

His wife, San Diego County Supervisor Susan Golding, watched from the front row of seats and displayed no emotion at the verdict or the jailing. Golding declined to comment on the proceedings.

The lawyers in the case, Assistant U.S. Atty. Charles F. Gorder Jr. and defense attorney James J. Brosnahan, also declined to comment on the verdict, saying that a gag order imposed months ago was still effective because the case was not yet over.

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Brosnahan said that he would contest the jailing at a hearing on the issue that Irving set for today. The lawyer added, “I am sure everyone can understand what this is like.”

Silberman has been indicted on seven felony counts in the case; the jury has been given six to decide. The seventh, which is Irving’s to consider, is a criminal forfeiture charge through which prosecutors are seeking the return of the stocks, bonds and cash in the case.

The remaining charges include two counts of money laundering, a single one of conspiring to launder money and two more alleging federal currency violations. The trial began May 1.

If convicted on all six counts, Silberman could draw as much as 75 years in prison. Irving did not immediately set a formal sentencing date.

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