The jury in the bank fraud trial of former budget director Bert Lance, unable to reach a verdict after 30 hours of trying, will continue deliberations today. But the judge decided late yesterday that if a verdict is reached during the weekend, it will be kept secret until court opens Monday morning.
Lance and three co-defendants are charged with a total of 19 counts of misapplying bank funds and filing false financial statements to obtain bank loans. Lance could face a total of 54 years in prison and fines of $60,000.
U.S. District Court Judge Charles A. Moye Jr. instructed jury foreman Marion Foster that if a verdict is reached on Saturday not to sign it until Monday. The jury will not deliberate on Sunday.
Court observers said it would be highly unusual for a judge to delay announcing a verdict simply because it came over a weekend. Monday will mark the 16th week in the criminal trial.
Defense attorneys had predicted a quick verdict, and appear surprised at the length of the deliberations. Lance, who has been awaiting the verdict at his 50-room Atlanta mansion called Butterfly Manna, said yesterday, "I'm ready anytime. I'm at ease and peace about it."