By Mary Ellen Godin
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Reuters) - Jury deliberations in the federal fraud case against a former Jefferies Group bond trader were put on hold unexpectedly on Tuesday, after an alternate juror died following a heart attack and another juror was injured in a car accident over the holiday weekend.
Gasps filled the New Haven, Connecticut courtroom of Chief Judge Janet Hall as she told federal prosecutors and lawyers for the defendant Jesse Litvak about the death of the 47-year-old male alternate juror.
"In all my years on the bench, this has never happened," Hall said.
The judge said the injured female juror was shaken up and using painkillers, but expected to return on Wednesday. Lawyers for both sides agreed to let a court clerk talk with the juror about her ability to serve.
Hall did not tell the five-man, seven-woman jury about the alternate juror's death, but directed a clerk to instruct the panel that deliberations were expected to resume on Wednesday.
"I suppose I will have to tell them at some point," Hall said. One alternate juror remains.
Litvak is on trial for a second time for having allegedly defrauded his customers about bond prices, causing them to overpay for bonds they bought and accept less for bonds they sold, to make more money for his employer and himself.
Defense lawyers have said Litvak's customers were sophisticated investors who would have known not to rely on what prosecutors called Litvak's "lies."
Litvak had been convicted in March 2014 and sentenced to two years in prison, but the conviction was overturned on appeal.
The defendant faces 10 securities fraud counts in his retrial. Closing arguments were given on Friday, and jurors briefly retired to begin deliberations, which had been expected to resume on Tuesday.
Jefferies is a unit of Leucadia National Corp <LUK.N>.
The case is U.S. v. Litvak, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, No. 13-cr-00019.
(Reporting by Mary Ellen Godin in New Haven, Connecticut; Editing by David Gregorio)