Jury says Koch verdict may be near

Thursday, December 23rd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- After seven days of deliberations, a federal jury deciding civil allegations against Koch Industries indicates it may be close to a verdict. The jury planned to return behind closed doors this morning after ending a half-day of deliberations Wednesday with a note indicating it could reach a verdict today.

The jury is trying to decide if Koch, the country's second-largest privately held company, underreported the amount and quality of oil it purchased from federal and Indian leases from 1985 to 1989. Chief U.S. District Judge Terry Kern had agreed to release the jury at midday Wednesday. Jurors had asked for the time to wrap up their holiday shopping.

Bill Koch filed the whistleblower lawsuit against his family's company. He alleges Koch falsified 31,000 federal claims by adjusting oil measurements in the company's favor. He seeks the repayment of $445,000 to the government. If the jury rules in favor of Bill Koch, the Wichita, Kan., company, also could be forced to pay $285 million in penalties.