The trial for Richard D. Lamphere, a real estate developer accused of cheating two men out of more than $1.5 million as part of a self-storage development scheme in Oroville, Calif., is set to resume today after Judge E. Bradley Nelson temporarily suspended proceedings yesterday to conduct a hearing about possible juror misconduct, according to the source. Nelson spent two hours looking into possible misbehavior after a key witness for the prosecution engaged as many as four jurors during a lunch break. The witness was about halfway through his testimony when the break was called.
During the witness/juror interaction, one juror used a cellphone to view a video of the witness giving a tour of his restaurant, the source reported. He then played the video for other jurors.
“This is not an easy call,” Nelson told the court. “Clearly there was misconduct by three jurors, but I’m not sure if it was willful or they forgot some of the admonitions.” The judge ultimately ruled the interaction wouldn’t reasonably prejudice the jury against Lamphere.
The jury next heard testimony from a retired airline pilot who invested $300,000 in a self-storage project presented to him by Lamphere after the men met in 2006. The project never got off the ground. The witness testified he was unable to get his money back and last heard from the developer in 2009. Lamphere allegedly told the pilot there was “a remote possibility” he could get his money back and thanked him for his trust.
The other victim, who lost more than $1 million in the development, testified last week about a friend who introduced him to Lamphere and convinced him to invest his retirement savings. The friend was the very witness involved in the potential juror misconduct, the source reported.