Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Juror Dismissed with the Flu, Prior to Guilty Verdict in Trial of U.S. Deputy Marshal

Deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose was convicted today on charges that he leaked secret government information that made its way to the mob.

A federal jury found Ambrose guilty of one count of theft of information and one count of illegal disclosure of information but found him innocent on two counts of lying to federal agents.

Ambrose wiped away tears after the verdict and embraced his wife. Ambrose, 42, is a decorated deputy marshal who has hunted down national and international fugitives. He was the second highest ranking member of a regional fugitive task force. The verdict delivers Ambrose a similar fate of that of his father, who was convicted in the 1980s with police corruption in a case known as the Marquette 10. The elder Ambrose died in prison.

Both Ambrose and his father had the same judge.

Ambrose was acquitted of charges that he lied to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI chief Rob Grant. His lawyer, Frank Lipuma, raised questions about why Grant and Fitzgerald didn’t record their interview with the deputy marshal. Several character witnesses testified on Ambrose's behalf at the trial, including U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras, who said he knew Ambrose to be truthful.

The jury deliberated tor three full days. One juror sick with the flu — though not swine flu — was excused this morning after U.S. District Judge John Grady said the panel should continue without her. Grady said case law supports a jury moving forward with one fewer person.

There were alternate jurors chosen in the case. But if an alternate is called back, the entire panel must start its deliberations from scratch.

Ambrose is accused of leaking information after he worked two brief stints with the federal witness protection program in 2002 and 2003, watching over mob witness Nick Calabrese. Ambrose is accused of committing a “criminal betrayal of trust” by leaking highly secretive information about Calabrese’s cooperation and activities, prosecutors have said in the case.

The leaked information made its way to members of the Chicago Outfit at a time mobsters were looking for solid confirmation that Calabrese was cooperating so they could “act,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Markus Funk said early in the trial.

Ambrose is charged with leaking sensitive government information about Calabrese and then lying to FBI chief Robert Grant and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald when they questioned him. Both Grant and Fitzgerald testified against him.

Ambrose's lawyer, Frank Lipuma, said his client is a hard-working, good, honest man who made "a big mistake in his job ... but it was not with criminal intent." Lipuma admitted that Ambrose had discussions with a man he looked to as a father figure, William Guide, about Calabrese. Guide had done prison time with Ambrose's late father, who went to prison as part of the “Marquette 10” police corruption case. Ambrose’s father died in prison.

“John got caught up in this because he was boasting about what he was doing,” Lipuma said.

Thanks to Natasha Korecki

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