Kent Roberts had to be sweating. During the week the jury was out in the former McAfee general counsel's options backdating trial, the market dropped nearly 1,000 points and the American financial meltdown went global. It was not the most ideal time to be the poster boy for corporate greed.
But when the jury returned Oct. 3, the verdict was not guilty. After three days of deliberation, the jury concluded that Roberts' actions, while suspect, did not meet the threshold for criminal intent. "This was under the white spotlight--an issue that drew intense investigative pressure," says Jeffrey Stone, who leads the trial department at McDermott Will & Emery. "In a case like this, where apparently the evidence suggested that there was no intent to commit a crime, the jury ferreted that out. They really focused on the facts of this specific case."
That wasn't the only difficulty prosecutors faced. The original indictment comprised seven counts, including charges that Roberts backdated options for the company's former CEO. But prosecutors dropped four counts before the trial.