The Jay Cohen Trial - Day Five

18 February 2000
Week one of the Jay Cohen Internet gambling trial in the Southern District of New York has concluded, and the defense is preparing to cross-examine the government's last witness, FBI Special Agent Lisa Ference.

Today, by far the least eventful day, saw the testimony of three witnesses: Ference, Paul Grant of Chase Manhattan Bank and FBI Special Agent David Marzilliano. The direct examinations consisted almost entirely of U.S. Attorny Joseph DeMarco introducing evidence and having the witnesses confirm that the evidence existed. It was grueling, and I commend the jury for staying awake. DeMarco introduced around 14,000 pounds of evidence including bank transaction records, Western Union records, phone bills, charts, video tapes (of Internet transactions) and audio tapes. On several occasions, Judge Griesa complained to the government that the testimonies bared no substance.

An interesting side note: Audio tapes used in this trial were taken as evidence as late as October 1998, seven months after Cohen returned to the U.S. to turn himself in.

Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman angled again to establish that bets were not taken over a wire transmission. Brafman posed to Grant (regarding wire transfers), "There is no transaction on record until it is entered into the receiving computer, is that correct?"

The government objected, Griesa overruled and Grant answered "yes."

The defense caught a break during the government's redirection of Marzilliano when Marzilliano testified that during a call to World Sports Exchange, he told the WSE employee which bet he wanted, and then the employee subsequently placed the bet.

Brafman immediately requested a follow-up cross examination. "You gave authorization for the person on the other end of the phone to place the bet, is that correct?" Brafman asked. Mazilliano conceded.

Ference, who headed the FBI investigation, confirmed the legitimacy of exhibit after exhibit during the direct examination, including three video taped Internet transactions and charts that showed how much money was wired to WSE.

In case your interest has been piqued, the government traced $517,000 in bank wires from the U.S. to WSE through Chase Manhattan between February of '97 and August of '99. It also tracked $4,884,000 in Western Union transfers between June 14, 1997 and September 3, 1998.

Another interesting side note: The mystery testimony regarding Cohen's attendance at a symposium in 1997, argued about vigorously yesterday, never surfaced.

The trial will resume Tuesday with the cross examination.

No, I didn't forget to include the letter submitted to the court yesterday by the defense regarding its position on the interpretation of the Wire Act. Click here to view the letter.

Mark Balestra

Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.