NEW YORK – Jury deliberations in the corporate corruption trial of two former Tyco International (TYC) executives descended into acrimony Thursday as jurors complained that the atmosphere had turned "poisonous."
The judge refused to grant a defense request for a mistrial, but jurors were sent home for the day to cool off after revealing the extent of the bitterness in the jury room.
Jurors sent three notes to state Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus saying discussions had disintegrated to the point where some members had swapped "incendiary accusations." They were in their sixth day of deliberations.
"The atmosphere in the jury room has turned poisonous," one of the notes said.
Another note said at least one juror "does not have an open mind. The disagreement is so intense that it has resulted in very bad acrimony. Perhaps this jury cannot continue. What shall we do?"
Defense attorney Austin Campriello, representing ex-Tyco chief executive officer L. Dennis Kozlowski (search), said: "We believe our right to a fair trial no longer exists."
Prosecutors say Kozlowski and former Tyco chief financial officer Mark Swartz (search) looted the company of $600 million. They allegedly took unauthorized bonuses and abused company loan programs to finance their lavish lifestyles, including a $6,000 shower curtain and a $2 million toga party.
The jury notes came as a surprise. Jurors earlier asked the court to "indulge us with more time" before they returned to the courtroom to hear a readback of testimony.
The defense argued that the two had earned every dime and that the company's auditors and board of directors knew about the compensation and never objected.
Kozlowski, 57, and Swartz, 43, are charged with grand larceny, falsifying business records and violating state business laws. They could get up to 30 years in prison each if convicted.
On Wednesday, jurors were given evidence they had requested on Tyco's lavish relocation benefits for employees, and on a $20 million finder's fee paid to a company board member.
The finder's fee and the bonuses are related to one of the top charges against Swartz and Kozlowski, grand larceny.
Tyco, which has about 270,000 employees and $36 billion in annual revenue, makes electronics and medical supplies and owns the ADT security business.