RALEIGH — A jury will resume deliberations for a second day in a civil case against U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon after it failed to reach a verdict Monday.
The 12-person panel spent three hours discussing whether the Republican tea party contender and a co-defendant provided false or misleading information to two associates to encourage them to invest in their startup technology company, Neogence Enterprises.
Either way the jury decides, the case is a political blow to Brannon, who is enduring unflattering headlines and spending more than a week in a courtroom off the campaign trail.
In final arguments Monday, the attorneys focused on a potential deal the mobile application company explored with Verizon. The opportunity for a deal helped convince two investors, Larry Piazza and Sam Lampuri, to put $250,000 into the company, but it never came to fruition and the company later closed its doors. The investors are seeking to recoup their losses.
Their attorney, Steven Epstein, argued that Brannon and his co-defendant Robert Rice omitted critical details about the potential opportunity that misled his clients – notably that the deal wasn’t with Verizon but advertising firm McGarry Bowen.
Esptein argued that Brannon and Rice were desperate “to get funds in the door to help make them rich” and it led them to exaggerate the potential deal with Verizon.
Defense attorney Mike Frazier said his clients merely relayed information from John Cummings, the company’s salesman, who met with a Verizon and advertising firm officials in New York. “If there was any untruth told, it was told to them also and they reasonably relied on those who told them,” Frazier said.
In his closing statement, Epstein repeatedly highlighted that Brannon did not testify in his own defense, as his attorney had promised at the trial’s start.
“If he did not know the truth (about the Verizon deal), why did he not take the witness stand to tell you,” Epstein said. “There has been no testimony in this case that Brannon did not know the truth. None whatsoever.”
But Frazier argued that Brannon served mostly as a cheerleader in the company, talking it up to potential investors. He said Brannon “really could not add any more to this case. He was the furthest downstream from the action.”