Violent Juror Defends Art Scammer Luke Brugnara and Calls Judge a Nazi Agent
Luke Brugnara isn't the only one disrupting his art theft trial.
Juror deliberations were interrupted yesterday by a violent outburst from one juror, as Luke Brugnara’s case was being considered. Brugnara stands accused of mail fraud involving $11 million in fine art.
Ivan Jakic, who had previously stormed out of a jury room on Friday, exploded in rage the following Monday, loudly insisting that “Luke Brugnara is not guilty!” He later directed his ire at US District Judge William Alsup, saying, “He’s an agent of a Nazi, fascist system!” before he was detained by security and taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
“I’ve been on the job 16 years and nothing comes close to what the court just saw in a juror,” Judge Alsup said, according to Courthouse News. “A meltdown is too tame a word for what we saw.”
Jakic was so disruptive that even Brugnara begged him to get it together, pleading, “Stop, this isn’t helping me.” This from a man who has threatened a judge in a court of law , and has to date earned an extra 153 days in jail for being held in contempt of court. When artnet News last checked in on the case, Brugnara showed up to defend himself sans shoes, forcing the US Attorney Ben Kinglsey to lend him a spare pair.
The case against Brugnara involves artwork he allegedly arranged to buy from art dealer Rose Long. Four crates of artwork by artists including Willem de Kooning, George Luks, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso were seized by the FBI upon Brugnara’s arrest. A fifth crate, containing a valuable bronze cast of Edgar Degas‘s The Little Dancer, Age Fourteen (1881), reportedly remains missing.
Earlier in the trial, Brugnara told the court that the missing crate was likely stolen from his garage by a workman performing home repairs looking for a vanity or toilet. “They were probably actually disappointed and probably threw it in the trash where it belongs,” he said.
Jury deliberations will now begin anew, with the new juror.
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