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Third time’s the charm for one prosecutor who spent the past four years trying to nab a Washington lawyer accused of swindling the Superior Court of the District of Columbia out of nearly $75,000. Shola Ayeni’s third trial ended last week when a jury found him guilty on charges of conspiracy, fraud, and theft from a federally funded program. Ayeni’s first trial on the charges ended with a hung jury in 2002. Later that year the 46-year-old public defender was convicted, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned the verdict, faulting U.S. District Court Judge Richard Roberts for allowing lawyers to answer questions from the jury during deliberations. “We conclude that the district court abused its discretion by permitting the supplemental arguments,” the appeals court ruled. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham is pleased with the Nov. 15 verdict but says he expects the defense might again file an appeal. Defense attorney Steven McCool, who questioned the reliability of the government’s witnesses and evidence during closing arguments, could not be reached for comment. Ayeni was a court-appointed attorney for the Superior Court when he obtained thousands of witness vouchers worth $40 each and arranged for friends and family members to cash them, prosecutors say. After his first conviction, Ayeni was sentenced to 37 months in prison, more than a year of which he served before his appeal was granted. He was released pending a retrial.
Sarah Kelley can be contacted at [email protected].

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