[Stop-traffic] News/US: Sex case ends in mistrial Retrial likely for 5 accused of immigration wrongdoing

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/US: Sex case ends in mistrial Retrial likely for 5 accused of immigration wrongdoing
From: Jesse Sage (sage@anti-slavery.org)
Date: Thu Aug 24 2000 - 19:02:59 EDT


Copyright 2000 Little Rock Newspapers, Inc.
                                                  The Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette

                                                    August 17, 2000,
Thursday

SECTION: NEWS; Pg. A1

LENGTH: 1432 words

HEADLINE: Sex case ends in mistrial Retrial likely for 5 accused of
immigration wrongdoing

BYLINE: LINDA SATTER, ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

BODY:
    A deadlocked jury forced a mistrial Wednesday in the 5-week trial of
former television executive David Jewell Jones and four of his friends,
all accused of illegally
importing two Chinese women into Arkansas for Jones' sexual benefit.
U.S. Attorney Paula Casey said minutes after hearing of the deadlock
that she is "fairly certain" she will retry the case, but officials in
her office will have to discuss
whether to alter any of the charges.
Defendants -- Jones of Bryant, dentist Bob Rushing of Fordyce, lawyer
Mark Riable of Little Rock, and restaurant owners Tony and Mary Ma of
Mabelvale --
refused to comment extensively or to speculate on why jurors had
deadlocked, citing the possibility of a retrial.
Attorney Sam Perroni, who represented Jones, told reporters that "it's
obvious that there were people on the jury that felt very strongly that
the government hadn't
proved this case beyond a reasonable doubt, and for those people we are
deeply appreciative."
Casey, who like Perroni was surrounded by reporters outside the federal
courts building in Little Rock, said that "when the burden of proof is
beyond a reasonable
doubt and 12 people have to agree, that's a large burden to carry."
Defense attorneys refused to speculate on whether their decision not to
put on a defense had anything to do with the hung jury -- or whether
they will do things
differently the next time around.
As soon as prosecutors rested their case last week after 13 days of
presenting testimony, defense attorneys immediately rested their case,
as well, without presenting
any evidence or calling any witnesses.
All said the government had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable
doubt and that the perjury committed by the government's two star
witnesses destroyed the
credibility of the entire case.
Casey said Wednesday that the impact of the lies is "very difficult to
assess."
The most startling admission of perjury occurred when one of two Chinese
women at the heart of the charges admitted that for three years, she had
made up
allegations that Jones raped her in 1995 and 1996.
Defense attorneys asked that the case be thrown out, prompting federal
prosecutors to respond that the case wasn't about rape but about
violating immigration laws
for sexual purposes, whether the sex was consensual or forced.
Jones has denied ever having sex, consensual or otherwise, with either
woman.
Prosecutors contended that Jones used his wealth and influence to coerce
his friends to help him bring Xiao Ying Wu of Shanghai to the United
States in September
1992 on a fiancee visa to marry Rushing in a contrived wedding.
They say Jones had sex with Wu until she returned to China in January
1993, and then he enlisted the help of his friends to get a second
woman, Yua Hao Zhong,
into the country on another fiancee visa that was based on false
pretenses.
For part of the trial, Jones was accused of having nonconsensual sex
with Zhong from July 1995 through the spring of 1996, but Zhong later
recanted that testimony,
saying the sex was consensual.
Defense attorneys contended that Jones' wealth inspired the women to
concoct the sordid tale in hopes of extorting money from him in a civil
lawsuit.
Asked whether the perjury will substantially weaken the case if it is
retried, Casey said, there is ample evidence besides the word of the two
women to support the
charges.
"We have reason to believe that a crime was committed," she said. "I
think all of you have seen the evidence now. There were over 125
documents entered into
evidence, and there were over 30 witnesses who testified. The case was
pretty clear. It's just a matter of the law applies to everybody."
"Of course, we always regret when a witness lies. That is something that
we don't approve of and certainly don't condone," Casey added. She noted
that it was
prosecutors who disclosed the lies to the court "at the first
opportunity" upon finding out themselves.
"It's one of those things that we always wish would never happen, but
when it does, we just have to deal with it."
She also told reporters that a retrial is likely because "in the seven
years that I've been here, there's only been one case that we didn't
retry, and that was a case
where we had decided on the front-end that if it resulted in a hung
jury, we wouldn't retry it."
"We'll take a long and careful look at what happened in this trial at
the evidence, the witnesses that we have, and make decisions about
whether something should
be changed before we go back to trial," she said.
But from Perroni's perspective, the damage to the case cannot be undone.

"No matter what happens, as far as a retrial, they still have these two
women who committed perjury many, many times over to deal with, so I
think we're going to
have the same kind of credibility issues," he said.
He told Jones not to talk to reporters, leaving Jones -- former general
manager and co-owner of Little Rock station KARK-TV, Channel 4 -- to
smile and shake his
head when reporters asked him questions.
"I am speechless. I am disappointed. ... But I am innocent," Jones said.

The Mas, naturalized U.S. citizens who run Tony's Chinese Restaurant at
7315 Geyer Springs Road in Little Rock and who speak little English,
stood silently in the
hot sun as their attorneys talked to reporters.
Russ Hunt of Searcy said the client he was appointed to represent, Tony
Ma, was confused by the day's events and had asked, "what does he have
to do to clear
his reputation?"
"If the government brings the charges back, we'll fight just as hard
as we did the first time to clear his reputation," Hunt said. He noted
that "we didn't walk out of
here winners but we didn't walk out of here losers today either."
Rita Looney, who was appointed to represent Mary Ma, said the woman who
is expecting her third child in October also has found the situation
confusing.
Riable's attorney, Tim Dudley, declined to talk to reporters. But
Riable, a Little Rock lawyer and former state representative, said he
was thankful for the support of
his wife, Kathy, and various friends, clients and church members.
"Sometimes it's hard to make it through tough times without that help,"
he said.
He said the trial and the allegations that emerged in the summer of 1998
have had an impact on his legal practice as well as his emotions.
Referring to the prospect of a retrial, he said, "I would just hope the
government wouldn't put us all through that."
Rushing's attorney, Bob Compton, said the jurors had quite a number of
matters to consider.
"They had 16 verdict forms, I don't know how many charges, five
defendants -- take your choice on what they might have gotten hung up
on," he said. But, he said
that as he understood it, "they didn't reach a verdict on anything."
The announcement of the deadlock was made about 2:30 p.m. after jurors
sent a note at 1:46 p.m. to U.S. District Judge George Howard Jr.,
announcing that they
had reached a stalemate and were "not able to come to a unanimous
decision."
Jurors had deliberated for a total of about 3 1/2 days, including
half-days last Thursday and Friday.
The note didn't specify whether jurors had reached any decisions on any
of the 16 verdict forms. Although Perroni and Assistant U.S. Attorney
Pat Harris wanted
the judge to ask jurors for more specifics about how many charges they
were stuck on, attorneys for the four other defendants only wanted a
mistrial declared.
Howard did that after polling each of the eight men and four women on
the panel individually to ensure that each believed further
deliberations would be a waste of
time.
Though a grand jury indictment listed six charges, jurors had 16 verdict
forms to complete because not all the charges applied to each person,
and each form
pertained to a single charge against one person.
There were four charges against Jones, five against Tony Ma, four
against Mary Ma, one against Rushing and two against Riable.
Each defendant was charged with conspiracy to commit visa and marriage
fraud, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $
250,000 upon
conviction.
Also, Jones, Tony Ma and Riable were charged with filing a false visa
application, which carries the same penalty range. Jones and the Mas
were additionally
charged with harboring an illegal alien and obstruction of justice. And
finally, the Mas each faced a charge of unlawfully procuring their own
citizenship.
After Howard declared the mistrial, jurors left the building without
talking to reporters.
Photos: Tony Ma
Mary Ma
Mark Riable
Bob Rushing

--
Jesse Sage, Associate Director
American Anti-Slavery Group
1-617-426-8161 - http://www.anti-slavery.com

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