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UPDATE: Jurors Deadlock in Trial of Men Suspected of Stealing From Tribe

The jury informed the judge it could not reach a consensus as to the men's guilt.

Update 3:16 p.m.:

Jurors Thursday failed to reach a unanimous decision in the trial of two men accused of bilking Pechanga Indians out of $4 million, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial.

The jury deadlocked 8-4 in favor of acquittal on most counts for James William Riley, 48, of Corona, and Ryan Jay Robinson, 41, of Temecula.

The men were accused of pocketing funds reserved for the Temecula-based Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians' casino insurance.

Riverside Superior Court Judge Elisabeth Sichel on the second day of full deliberations was informed that the panel was hopelessly deadlocked on the case and declared the mistrial.

A defense motion to dismiss the case will be heard Monday in Riverside.

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Jurors Thursday began their second full day of deliberations in the trial of a former accountant for the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and an ex- insurance broker, accused of stealing about $4 million from the Temecula-based tribe.

James William Riley, 48, of Corona and Ryan Jay Robinson, 41, of Temecula were indicted in February 2010 on multiple felony charges stemming from a scam that the pair allegedly perpetrated between 2005 and 2007.

Riley, a former insurance broker and partner at Riley, Garrison & Associates, could face 20 years in prison and six-figure fines if convicted of three counts each of grand theft, commercial bribery and money laundering.

Robinson, the Pechanga tribe's former chief financial officer, is facing up to seven years behind bars if convicted of grand theft and three counts of bribery.

The prosecution completed its closing argument Monday, and the defendants' attorneys finished their statements Tuesday.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Elisabeth Sichel sent the jury behind closed doors to begin weighing the defendants' fates around 2 p.m.

The trial began July 11.

Deputy District Attorney Jeanne Roy told jurors that Riley and Robinson began scamming the tribe shortly after Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. Commercial insurance rates went through the roof following the disaster, enabling the defendants to justify exorbitant insurance costs from which they were profiting, Roy alleged.

She alleged that Riley artificially inflated the tribe's property and risk insurance premiums to pocket large sums disguised as fees, with Robinson's complicity. According to the prosecutor, Riley lived a lavish lifestyle while his co-defendant used $190,000 in ill-gotten gains to pay off gambling debts.

According to Riley's attorney, Souley Diallo, his client never committed a crime, and the prosecution's case boils down to a misunderstanding of complex financial arrangements.

Chris Jensen, Robinson's legal counsel, acknowledged that his client received tens of thousands of dollars in cashier's checks from Riley, but said there's no evidence that the funds were part of a bribe or arose from a conspiracy to rip off the tribe.

Riley is free on $1 million bail, and Robinson is free on a $120,000 bond.

Svh624 July 27, 2012 at 05:47 AM
Its Pechanga Band of Luiseno Misson Indians, the title should have said Pechanga Tribe not Indians. Better luck next time.
Mirna Alfonso July 27, 2012 at 06:05 AM
There is no Mission here. It is Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. In San Diego County, it is Luiseno Band of Mission Indians.
Temecula Bob July 27, 2012 at 09:08 PM
You're both wrong. It is the Temecula Band of Luiseño Mission Indians. Read here for the real deal. http://www.originalpechanga.com/2010/06/pechanga-tribes-termination-committee.html
temeculan July 28, 2012 at 01:16 PM
What? You three must be members of the jury; pondering worthless details while ignoring the real story. These guys are ripping off a legit business for tens of thousands of dollars while dim bulb jurors wander around looking for the crime. Nice.

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