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Prosecutors Vow to Retry King : Jurisprudence: Jurors dismissed in insurance-fraud case against boxing promoter, officially making it a mistrial.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Federal prosecutors vowed Friday to retry boxing promoter Don King on insurance- fraud charges after jurors were dismissed in his first trial.

A mistrial was declared in the case Thursday, when the jury deadlocked on a verdict. Prosecutors appealed to a higher court to force further deliberations but gave up on that approach Friday.

When the mistrial was made official Friday, King walked smiling from the courtroom, saying, “I am going to church.”

Jurors said the panel was divided. There were six votes for conviction, five for acquittal, and one juror was undecided when U.S. District Judge Lawrence McKenna declined to send them back for further deliberations Thursday.

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“It is our present intention to seek a prompt retrial of the defendant,” said Mary Jo White, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan.

King, 64, was charged with nine counts of fraud in connection with a scheduled fight between Julio Cesar Chavez and Harold Brazier in 1991. The bout was canceled after Chavez was injured during training.

During a six-week trial, government lawyers tried to convince the jury that the boxing promoter falsified a contract to collect a $350,000 insurance payment from Lloyd’s of London. King was accused of padding the insurance claim with bogus training expenses.

King countered that he never told employees to change a contract with the British insurance company and blamed his accountant, Joseph Maffia, the government’s star witness.

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That defense succeeded with some members of the jury.

“The government was asking us to make some leaps when it came to reasonable doubt,” juror Michelle Liebler said. “We felt there wasn’t enough direct evidence.”

But another juror who declined to reveal his identity differed vehemently with the assessment, calling King a “bold-faced liar” whose testimony was “well rehearsed.”

Prosecutors gave up on forcing further deliberations after the New York Daily News published an interview with one of the alternate jurors, which White said “would itself likely necessitate the declaration of a mistrial.”

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King had little to say as he emerged from the courthouse.

“I am going to have a lot to say to the American public,” he eventually promised, telling reporters he would hold a news conference in the future.

“He’s a strong man. He’s a man of decency,” said his lawyer, Peter Fleming.

The promoter insisted he had nothing to do with the insurance claim. But government witnesses testified that King kept such tight controls over his company that he even signed checks for as little as five cents. Prosecutors charged that after being reimbursed by the insurance company, King concealed from Chavez the fact he had received the money in the summer of 1992.

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“This is a one-man show,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Stewart told the jury. “He is the show.”

King could have faced fines of $2.25 million and 45 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

King has been the target of government investigations previously. In 1985, he was acquitted of federal charges of tax evasion.

McKenna said he would meet with lawyers Nov. 28 to set a new trial date.

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