Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jury Gets McDonald's Game Fraud Case Today

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jury Gets McDonald's Game Fraud Case Today

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Schoettler, Times-Union staff writer

The federal jury in the McDonald's fraud trial will begin deliberating in Jacksonville this morning after the prosecutor insisted that the five defendants were greedy liars who illegally cashed in high-value game pieces, while the defense said the men were tricked into claiming their riches.

"The ultimate goal was to get the money, to defraud McDonald's and get McDonald's convinced that the person was due the check or the car. Everything else was fluff," federal prosecutor Mark Devereaux said during yesterday's closing arguments.

Attorney Curtis Fallgatter, representing a South Carolina man who cashed in a million-dollar piece, said the men didn't know the pieces had been embezzled and that the case was a civil matter.

Fallgatter also said the man who stole the pieces, Jerome Jacobson, was the true villain. Jacobson, who was head of security for the company that marketed the games, has pleaded guilty.

"Did you think you'd be in federal court with government prosecutors and the mighty FBI seeking to convict a man based on their interpretation of the game rules?" Fallgatter said. "Have not these victims of the true conspirator been victimized and punished enough?"

But Devereaux said Fallgatter's client, George Chandler, should not have lied about a piece he didn't win or get legitimately.

"George Chandler was sticking his head in the sand," Devereaux said. "He knew."

The question about whether the men knew about origin of the stolen pieces is expected to be a key issue for the jury after a decision yesterday by U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. Adams startled the prosecution when he said he would instruct jurors that if they found a reasonable doubt the defendants knew the game pieces had been embezzled or otherwise unlawfully obtained, the jury should find them not guilty -- a point hammered home repeatedly by the defense. Devereaux questioned the language and turned his back to Adams, angering the judge. …

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