LOS ANGELES -- A mistrial was declared Wednesday in the federal trial of a former Los Angeles Unified administrator accused of conning the district into buying nearly $4 million worth of algebra textbooks he authored.
Jurors deadlocked 11-1 in favor of acquittal in the trial of Matthias Charles Vheru. Federal prosecutors will now have to decide whether to retry him.
Vheru, 53, taught at Locke for 11 years before he was asked to resign from the district in 2005, after the alleged fraud came to light. He is charged with 11 counts of fraud in connection with LAUSD purchase orders that prosecutors allege he used to net nearly $1 million -- $676,000 in royalties and a $255,000 consulting fee from the publisher of instructional materials he wrote.
According to an indictment, money for the books and related materials came from federal funds earmarked under the No Child Left Behind Act for programs for students with limited English skills.
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Vheru, who was working as an interim director of mathematics at the time, contends that not only did he fully disclose to the district that he had ordered his own book, but he and his direct supervisor were never trained in what the federal funds could and could not be used to purchase.
The U.S. District Court jury hearing the case in downtown Los Angeles had been deliberating for about a week when one of the members of the panel was dismissed on Feb. 18 for apparently making racially offensive remarks in the jury room.
An alternate juror was brought in, and deliberations began anew on Thursday. That alternate juror was the only one on the panel who voted to convict Vheru.