Mistrial declared in case of watchdog group

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Associated Press

Posted on December 17, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 17 at 11:03 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a watchdog group accused of violating federal law when it shared a whistleblower settlement with a government economist 14 years ago.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly made the call Monday after the eight jurors in the civil case could not come to a unanimous verdict. The Justice Department claimed that the Project on Government Oversight and then-government economist Richard A. Berman had violated a ban on supplementing the salary of an executive branch employee.

At issues was POGO's nearly $400,000 check to Berman in 1998 for his work exposing oil companies' underpayment of royalties to the federal government.

The case has dragged on for a decade. Two previous government victories were reversed on appeal.

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