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Whether former high-tech executive Steven Allan was inside the loop or out of it will likely determine whether he goes to prison. Allan, the former chief financial officer of Media Vision Technologies Inc., says he was the latter, an outsider to an infamous circle of fraud that sent the once high-flying company into bankruptcy. It is now up to the jury to decide, after prosecutors and defense attorneys gave their closing arguments Monday in U.S. District Judge D. Lowell Jensen’s courtroom. During the month-long trial, defense attorney Arthur Lemann III argued that his client is an innocent scapegoat. Prosecutors used the testimony of several former company officials — including five who have plea deals with the government — in an attempt to show that Allan was an integral part of the scheme, which they called an out-of-control effort to beat Wall Street forecasts. “In our economy, people are given an opportunity to amass amounts of great wealth � but with that opportunity comes responsibility,” argued Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hemann. “Steve Allan is one of the people in our society who got that opportunity, but he refused to take the responsibility.” Lemann told the jury that Allan is being used as a scapegoat by others seeking to avoid long prison sentences, including former Chief Executive Officer Paul Jain. He also said his client, as the CFO of a small, publicly traded company, had too many responsibilities to recognize what was going on. “[Allan] wasn’t supposed to, in effect, check the cash register every night,” Lemann said. The case now goes to a jury empanelled against a backdrop of ever-widening financial scandals and tough talk from politicians about ending corporate wrongdoing. It could be a good vehicle for discerning whether the mood of the public has turned against corporate executives: Allan’s last trial ended in a hung jury. The case is one of the early examples of high-tech malfeasance, having been brought to light in 1994 after a newspaper reporter questioned the publicly traded company’s financial picture. Several people were indicted in 1998, and all but Allan struck deals. None have so far been sentenced. Allan is charged with nine counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud and insider trading. Hemann painted a picture of a company that would do anything to beat analysts’ earnings goals, dismissing the argument that frauds could have been carried out in so many of Media Vision’s departments without Allan knowing. “One, of course, would wonder what he was doing all day long if he didn’t know this was going on,” Hemann said. During the trial Lemann hammered at the credibility of the witnesses, asking one witness about a history of alcoholism and accusing Jain of hiding his personal investment in Media Vision from his former wife. The two were then going through a divorce. He continued that theme Monday. “Always shift the blame,” he said of Jain. “The man has been doing it for a long, long time.” To counter Lemann’s contention that Allan was out of the loop, Hemann tried to place Allan at meetings where the variety of schemes Media Vision employed were discussed. He sarcastically asked the jury if Allan is deaf, after saying that two admitted conspirators once had a meeting with him in his office. “He says he floated in ignorance and oblivion. But the evidence you’ve seen since [the start of trial] tells a completely different story,” Hemann said. The prosecution’s evidence is detailed, relying on reams of paper which sometimes include short notes jotted in the margins of typed memos. Some jurors brought more than one notebook to closing arguments. Hemann’s closing argument was interrupted 15 minutes after it began when Oakland’s federal building was evacuated for a fire drill.

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