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Judge scolds jurors in KB Home options trial

April 2, 2010 |  9:45 am

The judge overseeing the stock options backdating trial of former KB Home chief Bruce Karatz was unhappy to learn that a juror had a brief conversation with former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan after his testimony Thursday.

The Times reported Friday that one of the jurors approached Riordan on the front steps of the Los Angeles federal courthouse Thursday, shook his hand and said, "I'd like to thank you for your years of service to the city." The brief conversation came moments after Riordan had testified as a character witness for Karatz.

Before the trial resumed on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II told jurors that they are to steer clear of witnesses in the case.

"Try to restrain yourselves," the judge said. "You don't want to be seen having contact with one side's witnesses. We don't want to be reading any more articles in the L.A. Times."

The judge was particularly concerned because Friday's defense testimony included a couple more celebrity witnesses: KB Home co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and Danny Bakewell, former president of the Brotherhood Crusade.

Both men are longtime friends of Karatz. They testified that Karatz is a man of good character who they did not believe would commit a crime.

Karatz is on trial on 20 felony charges related to the backdating of KB Home stock options.

-- Stuart Pfeifer