Deliberations in Nick Tran case will continue a third day - - The News for South Mississippi

Deliberations in Nick Tran case will continue a third day

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS  (WLOX) – Deliberations in the federal drug trial of Biloxi pharmacist, Nick Tran, will resume Friday morning at nine o'clock.

The seven man, five woman jury deliberated for more than seven hours on Thursday, following four hours of deliberation on Wednesday afternoon.

Tran is accused of filling hundreds of illicit narcotics prescriptions that the government argued were "outside the scope" of professional standards and "without medical necessity."

Tran spent an entire day on the witness stand, maintaining his innocence and telling the jury he often checked on prescriptions when there was any concern about their legitimacy.

Thursday was a frustrating waiting period for Tran and the many family members and friends who have attended his federal trial.

The jury twice sent notes to the judge, with questions about evidence and jury instructions.

One question wanted to know about a defense exhibit, regulations from the Mississippi Pharmacy board. The second question on the first note asked whether the U.S. Code that Tran is charged under was introduced as part of the evidence.

The judge responded with a note which said, "All the exhibits admitted into evidence are in your possession."

A second note, passed around 1:30pm Thursday afternoon, was a question about a specific jury instruction that related to how much Nick Tran knew about alleged illegal activity the government maintains was going on at his pharmacy and a neighboring medical clinic.

The jury wanted to clarify the meaning of "closed his eyes," as in closing his eyes to what may have been happening around him.

The response to that offered no clarification, but rather said, "You must consider and follow all the court's instructions on the law."

The jury decided to recess for the day just before five o'clock  in the afternoon.

Judge Louis Guirola Jr. told the jury, "The time of deliberation is entirely up to you, as long as you base your decision on the evidence and the law."

The jury's decision to convict or acquit must be a unanimous one.  In the event of a hung jury, the government must decide whether to try the case again.

Nick Tran is one of four original defendants in the drug case. Dr. Thomas Trieu and Dr. Victoria Van both pleaded guilty to lesser charges and are awaiting sentencing. Richard Trieu pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to probation.

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