Aequitas trial: Jury beginning deliberations after prosecutor describes 'anatomy of a Ponzi scheme'

Aequitas trial: Jury beginning deliberations after prosecutor describes 'anatomy of a Ponzi scheme'

On Wednesday afternoon, jurors left the 15th floor courtroom of U.S. district judge Michael Simon to begin their deliberations for the six-week Aequitas Capital Management case.

The closing arguments and rebuttals took three days. Assistant U.S. district attorney Chris Cardani then reoriented the jury to the prosecution's case that three former executive officers, CEO Robert Jesenik and Chief Compliance Officer Andrew MacRitchie and Executive Vice President Brian Rice defrauded their investors starting in the summer 2014. Aequitas, based in Lake Oswego, collapsed early in 2016.

The attorneys for the three men argued that their clients did not have the intent to cheat, which was a crucial element of the case. Simon estimates that their closing arguments this week lasted about eight hours. Cardani was given two hours to respond.

Cardani reiterated the prosecutors' position, that defendants had the required intent to defraud but did not act with good faith. He claimed that chaos ensued in 2014 when money from the bankrupt Corinthian College ran out. Aequitas changed its business model. Cardani claimed that the firm used money from investors to repay previous investors as well as to cover "extravagant operating expenses" while concealing its increasingly dire financial state to investors. Cardani said that the defendants' pitch was unchanged.

Cardani argued that the scheme had lasted for at least one year and a quarter. Cardani said that prosecutors throughout the trial had shown jurors "the anatomy" of a Ponzi scam.

Michael Tremonte was MacRitchie’s lawyer and he objected to Cardani’s rebuttal. Tremonte stated for the record that defendants were not charged with a Ponzi Scheme.

The 30-count indictment filed against the defendants includes one charge of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, 28 charges of wire fraud, and one charge of conspiracy to launder money. Jesenik faces a separate charge of making a false statement in a bank loan request. If convicted, the men could face decades of prison time and millions in fines.

Cardani's spoke about all three men during his two-hour talk, but repeatedly referred to Jesenik, portraying the former CEO in the role of the ambitious leader, who wanted to be "the Wall Street mogul here in little, old Oregon," and had "illusions" of grandeur.

Cardani stated that " Bob Jesenik has always been the boss." He wanted to be a Wall Street mogul. He wanted to be like the East Coast's big boys. He surrounded himself by the trappings for success. This came at a high cost that the company couldn't afford.

Simon then gave the jury instructions, and they all left the room. They chose one person to be in charge of deliberations.

Conor Huseby: The jury is out.