A federal judge dismissed a juror in the second fraud trial involving Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, San Diego, and seated an alternate juror on the 12-member panel, spokespersons for the U.S. attorney's office and the legal defense team said. The jury was instructed to restart deliberations, which had gone on for 17 days before the ruling by the judge in U.S. District Court, San Diego. A court employee overhead the dismissed juror speaking about the case on a commuter train and reported the incident, leading to the juror's dismissal. Federal rules of criminal procedure require deliberations to begin anew if an alternate juror replaces one of the original jurors. The defendants -- Alvarado, its former chief executive officer, Barry Weinbaum, and a subsidiary of hospital owner Tenet Healthcare Corp. -- are accused of conspiring to funnel money through overly generous relocation agreements to physician practices that refer a lot of patients to the hospital. The judge declared a mistrial in the first trial when the jury could not reach a verdict. The second trial began in May. -- by Vince Galloro
Alvarado deliberations to start over with new juror
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