In Gupta, jurors saw the American Dream and convicted anyway

Convicted of one count of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud

‘Manipulative Man’

“Raj Rajaratnam was a very manipulative man, and he made it easy for Rajat Gupta to share this information,” Lepkowski said. “For Raj and Galleon, this was normal operating procedure.”

Ben Harris, a spokesman for Rajaratnam’s lawyer, John Dowd, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message left at his office seeking comment on the jurors’ statements.

Another issue was the circumstantial nature of the case. Still, Sesso became convinced of Gupta’s guilt after she examined the late-in-the-day timing of phone calls to Rajaratnam and the trades he made immediately afterward.

“The information and then the actions taken,” she said. “It was too many coincidences,” Sesso said, citing phone records that showed Gupta calling Rajaratnam just minutes before the end of trading and the fund managers purchased 217,200 shares of Goldman Sachs stock just two minutes before the market closed.

“We never got comfortable with anything,” Lepkowski added. “The saddest part of the trial for me was the two character witnesses -- one who came from India” to testify for Gupta “and the one who knew him since fifth grade.”

‘Not Enough Evidence’

Jurors didn’t convict Gupta on two counts of securities fraud stemming from two alleged tips he passed that resulted in Rajaratnam’s March 12, 2007, trade on Goldman Sachs stock and the fund manager’s Jan. 29, 2009, trade on Procter & Gamble. Two jurors said they hadn’t found enough evidence to convict on those charges. Prosecutors didn’t have wiretaps of Rajaratnam talking about those trades for both counts.

“There wasn’t the corroborating evidence that there were in the other counts,” Lepkowski said. “In the end we found that there was not enough evidence to convict beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs chairman, testified for the prosecution over three days, telling the jury that discussions he had with board members were confidential. Gupta’s lawyer Gary Naftalis assailed Blankfein, calling him “a man with no memory of anything” and “less than candid.”

Blankfein’s Testimony

Lepkowski said he understood Blankfein wouldn’t have been able to remember specifically what he told Gupta and his fellow directors during board meetings. At one point on the witness stand, Blankfein struck the same pose as one in a photograph in a news article the defense displayed in court, sparking laughter from the jurors.

“I personally appreciated Mr. Blankfein’s levity on the stand because it helped break up the tedium,” Lepkowski said. “I didn’t find him an un-credible or unhelpful witness.”

While Gupta didn’t testify at the trial, jurors were made aware by his lawyer that he’d been an orphan and climbed to the top of the corporate pyramid. Each day, Gupta’s wife, grown daughters and friends filled the first rows in the courtroom gallery.

Their presence wasn’t lost on the panel.

“I can see the love and passion he has for his family,” Sesso said, adding that jurors talked about the charities for which Gupta raised money. “We wanted him to walk, go home to his family and live a very prosperous life.”

The case is U.S. v. Gupta, 11-cr-00907, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

www.bloomberg.com

--With assistance from Chris Dolmetsch, David McLaughlin and Ian Thomas in New York. Editors: Mary Romano, Glenn Holdcraft

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