Federal prosecutor: 'Red flags' were shining at Nick Tran - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Federal prosecutor: 'Red flags' were shining at Nick Tran

Nick Tran Nick Tran

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – The fate of 42-year-old Nick Tran is in the hands of a federal jury, which received his case early Wednesday afternoon.

After about four hours of deliberations, the seven man, five woman jury recessed for the evening at 5pm Wednesday and will resume their deliberations at 9am Thursday morning.

Tran is accused of conspiring to fill hundreds of illicit narcotics prescriptions.  The vast majority of those prescriptions came from the Family Medical Center, located next door to Tran's Pharmacy on Division Street in Biloxi.

Defense attorney David Morrison accused the government of a "witch hunt," saying they presented no evidence about a conspiracy.

He also took issue with a conversation between two undercover agents.  On one of the undercover tapes, the agent says:  "We've got to find a way to drag Tran into this."

In his closing argument, Morrison quoted a line from Gregory Peck's lawyer character in the movie, "To Kill a Mockingbird".

He told the jury, "The court is our great leveler."

He said Nick Tran is innocent and implored the jury to take a close look at the facts of the case, facts he believes will prove that innocence.

His final comments were: "Go to the jury room and do the right thing."

Prosecutor John Meynardie told the jury that Nick Tran ignored his moral and legal obligation to report the illegal activity that involved hundreds of bogus narcotics prescriptions.

He suggested greed was the motivating factor.  Meynardie told the jury, "He needed the money, he wanted the money, he loved it."

The prosecutor had earlier questioned Tran about more than $200,000 in gambling losses at two coast casinos.

Meynardie said most every crime is driven by either passion or money. He said "money" was at the root of this case, and those involved were making plenty of it.

The assistant U.S. attorney argued, "Red flags were shining at Nick Tran every day."

He asked, "What did Mr. Tran know when 100 plus patients were coming to his business every day and 90 percent were leaving with controlled substances?"

Meynardie argued, "If there's a pattern of abuse from a doctor, you have to report that."

Nick Tran spent the entire day Tuesday on the witness stand.  His demeanor was calm and he spoke with a strong voice.

Often sitting with his hands folded in front of him, Tran told the jury he often called doctors to check prescriptions that might have raised questions. He also told them he discontinued plenty of prescriptions when there was any doubt about their legitimacy.

Tran testified that he was brought up in the Catholic faith and is still religious. The prosecutor made a remark about that in his closing arguments, saying Nick Tran was not being judged here, his conduct is the issue.

Meynardie told the jury, "Al Capone went to church every day."

Nick Tran comes from a large family with five brothers and three sisters. Many family members and friends have been in the courtroom during the eight days of the trial, including his elderly mother.

The prosecutor's final words to the jury were:  "He knew."

Deliberations resume Thursday morning at nine o'clock in the federal courtroom of Judge Louis Guirola Jr.

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