Burks to be tried in November 2015 or September 2016?
The SEC shutdown Zeek Rewards in August of 2012.
The $850 million Ponzi scheme’s owner, Paul Burks, was indicted in October of last year.
A trial date remains pending, with the amount of discovery (Zeek Rewards information) having to be produced holding things up.
To that end Burks (right) remains a relatively free man.
That might not be the case for much longer though, with the DOJ’s latest filing pushing to get the trial started in November.
Paul Burks meanwhile wants the trial delayed for another sixteen months…
In the DOJ’s Motion For a Peremptory Trial Setting, the agency acknowledge that production of an abundance of discovery is still pending. but suggest Burks and counsel are well and truly ready to face trial regardless.
While the volume of discovery is large, much of it consists of data that any business necessarily accumulates while in operation.
Defense Counsel is abundantly familiar with the case. Defense Counsel has worked for Defendant Paul Burks and ZeekRewards since before a federal criminal investigation even began.
Records indicate that the Defendant had retained Tin Fulton by at least January 2012.
(Fulton) was familiar enough with the evidence in the case to negotiate a settlement between Defendant Burks and the Securities Exchange Commission in August 2012 and between Defendant Burks and the Receiver.
As to the pending discovery itself;
Although the discovery is voluminous, it is not incredibly complicated.
Most of the discovery consists of data housed on computer systems that were maintained by the Defendant’s businesses.
This data includes detailed information about the more than eight hundred thousand victim-investors.
The details of this data are largely immaterial to the conduct set forth in the indictment.
To that end the DOJ argue that should the case not start in November 2015, victims of the scheme would be subject to an “unreasonable delay”, thus violating the Crime Victim’s Rights Act.
A speedy trial is also important to preserve the memories of witnesses.
Defendant Burks – who is not detained – is incentivized to delay the trial for as long as possible.
And as you’d expect, Burks has also made a filing and asks that the court put off the trial till the end of next year.
Burks’ only card left to play at this point is discovery, yet how inspection of data unrelated to his indictment will aid in his defense is not clarified.
Preparing and trying this criminal case presents challenges more complex and unusual than found in most criminal cases.
Undersigned counsel respectfully submit that any trial date scheduled prior to September 2016 — which would still be less than two years from indictment — threatens Mr. Burks’ rights to effective assistance of counsel, due process, and a fair
Does it really though? Burks is well into his senior years and is in all likelihood going down hard at trial.
Every day the trial is delayed is another he gets to enjoy freedoms, that by rights should be bereft the mastermind of an $850 million Ponzi scheme.
Surely if Burks’ lawyers cannot positively identify how data unrelated to his indictment might serve them, then delaying the case another sixteen months is unacceptable?
I mean it’s not like Burks’s indictment is vague. Specific information would be required to prove Zeek Rewards wasn’t a Ponzi scheme, and we all know such information doesn’t exist (fraud is fraud).
So instead we get Burk’s lawyer insisting the charges in the indictment pertain to “new information”:
Receiving, staging, digesting, and analyzing this discovery is an incredibly complex, time-consuming, and costly undertaking.
While it is true that undersigned counsel have familiarity with the case, the discovery in question is entirely new and has never been reviewed previously.
A hearing on he matter was held on May 27th, but as of yet a decision has yet to be made.
The prosecution’s assertion that the alleged victims “have a right to a speedy trial” fails to recognize that a criminal defendant’s right to defend himself against allegations of criminal conduct is one of the most fundamental rights afforded by the justice system.
Be that as it may, hiding behind the production of terabytes of unrelated information that isn’t even going to be used in the trial is pretty transparently dubious.
How on Earth is the Zeek Rewards database (cited numerous times by Burks attorney), going to prove Zeek Rewards wasn’t a Ponzi scheme Burks was in charge of?
And Fuller emphasizing that at trial date in September is “less than two years from indictment” only cements that. September 2016 puts at exactly 1 year and 11 months from whence Burks was first indicted.
You can almost envisage Fuller advising Burks that September 2016 is the absolute longest they can put off a trial for, irrespective of the reasons cited.
Here’s hoping Judge Mullen saw through Burks’ attempts to delay at the hearing. Or at the very least a compromise date early next year is set, and we can finally get this show on the road.
Starting the trial in October 2016, some four years after Zeek Rewards was shut down and bearing in mind the trial in and of itself will be lengthy, would be nothing short of a joke.
Footnote: Our thanks to Don@ASDUpdates for providing a copy of the DOJ’s 15th of May Motion For Peremptory Trial Setting and Paul Burks’ 18th of May filed response.
Update 30th May 2015 – An order has been issued, scheduling Burks’ trial for May 2016.