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Jury chosen for trial of former Mashantucket tribal chairman on credit card misuse

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: theday.com

Published July 02. 2013 2:00PM   Updated July 02. 2013 2:18PM

New Haven -- A federal jury of seven men and seven women will hear the government's case against Michael Thomas, the former Mashantucket Pequot tribal chairman accused of stealing more than $100,000 from the tribe that owns Foxwoods Resort Casino.

The jurors were chosen today in U.S. District Court in New Haven, where Thomas' trial is scheduled to begin July 22.

Judge Janet Bond Arterton presided over the jury selection, questioning a pool of 35 potential jurors before allowing attorneys for both sides to register their preferences.

Thomas, 44, charged with misusing a tribal credit card, took notes and conferred with his attorneys during the proceedings.

The selected jurors, two of whom will serve as alternates, included a man who told Arterton he worked at the Millstone Power Station for 32 years and has a son who works for the Mashantuckets.

Arterton asked potential jurors whether any of their family members or close friends were accountants and whether they use accountants in dealing with their personal finances.

Several of those who indicated they use accountants to prepare their taxes were named jurors while one who identified himself as an accountant and another who said he managed "policies and procedures" for a bank were not chosen.

A former accountant who once handled Thomas' personal finances is listed among people the government may call as witnesses or whose names may be heard during the trial.  The former accountant, F. Robert LaSaracina, pleaded guilty in 2011 to federal fraud and tax charges and is serving a prison term.

Arterton instructed the jurors to avoid media reports about the case and to refrain from researching the case online or otherwise.

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