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Jury still out in Paul Solofa trial; no verdict yet

The 12-member jury in the federal government’s case against former Department of Education official Paul Solofa returns today to continue deliberation and it remains unclear as to when a verdict will be announced.

Solofa went on trial last week Wednesday at federal court in Washington D.C. on charges of obstruction of justice and witness tampering and the charges stem from his alleged role in the school bus spare parts scheme during his time as head of the DOE business office several years ago.

Federal prosecutors called five witnesses including star witnesses, Gustav Nauer, former supervisor of the DOE bus division, and Oscar Mayer, general manager of Pacific Products, the local company that provided spare parts to DOE and was allegedly involved in the scheme as well. Mayer has yet to be charged.

There was no trial hearing last Friday; the trial resumed this week Monday with the continuation of testimony from Nauer, who has already pled guilty to his role in this scheme and will be sentenced later this year.

Also on Monday the defense requested through an oral motion an acquittal of the defendant but was denied by presiding magistrate, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton. Closing arguments followed thereafter and continued the first thing Tuesday morning before the jury went into deliberation, according to federal electronic court records.

Court records also show that there were at least three notes from the jury foreman, one of which asked whether defense exhibit #8 — about an FBI agent’s report of a meeting with Solofa in Hawai’i — was admitted into evidence.

Walton replied that this exhibit was not admitted into evidence and therefore was not sent with the jury foreman to the jury room.

Another jury note states “We need markers”, while a third note says, “Need someone to open laptop [sic]” with password.

The jury adjourned yesterday for the day and continues deliberation today, said Laura Sweeney, Justice Department spokesperson, in an e-mail from Washington D.C. responding to Samoa News inquiries on the status of the jury deliberation and if a verdict had been reached.

Solofa faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the witness tampering charge and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the obstruction of justice charge, according to the Justice Department.