July 2, 1990, Mrs. Marcos was acquitted of charges of racketeering, fraud by New York jury
On July 2, 1990, on her 61st birthday, former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos, was acquitted of all charges that she raided the country’s treasury and invested the money in the United States. A New York Federal Court jury of 12, voted 10-2 in favor of Mrs. Marcos.
Mrs. Marcos, who had described the trial as a personal ordeal and a political persecution, was found not guilty of racketeering, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and mail fraud.
The verdict ended a case that began more than four years ago, almost immediately after Mrs. Marcos’s husband, Ferdinand, fled the Philippines and after the new Philippine Government tried to seize the Marcoses’ vast worldwide wealth. The case endured even after Mr. Marcos died last September. It culminated in a three-month trial that tested a novel concept in American jurisprudence: whether the wife of a foreign head of state should face a criminal trial in a United States court.
It was read just minutes before 1 o’clock July 2 afternoon, unleashed an exultant demonstration and a spontaneous birthday celebration for Mrs. Marcos on the steps of the United States Court House on Foley Square in New York. The former First Lady who turned 61 and as she emerged from the courthouse, scores of her supporters sang “Happy Birthday” and “God Bless America”.
The trial could not escape broader political questions. The defense team, led by Gerry Spence, argued that it was hypocritical for the United States, which supported President Marcos during his 20 years in power and gave him refuge in Hawaii in 1986, to indict Mr. and Mrs. Marcos and then pursue charges against her after his death.
“Mrs. Marcos committed no crime except the crime of loving a man for 35 years, of raising his children, of being his First Lady, of being his ardent supporter, of taking his lavish gifts”, Mr. Spence said.
News reports said, Mrs. Marcos, her lips trembling, looked to the ceiling as the jury forewoman announced, “Not guilty”, four times. With that, Mrs. Marcos wept and a gallery filled with supporters cried out and cheered in triumph.
Mrs. Marcos, her lips trembling, looked to the ceiling as the jury forewoman announced, ”Not guilty,” four times. With that, Mrs. Marcos wept and a gallery filled with supporters from her homeland cried out and cheered in triumph.
”I thank the almighty God for the vindication,” said Mrs. Marcos, ”and I am in great awe for the jury system that symbolizes the soul of the American people.”
The Marcoses were charged with racketeering and fraud in stealing more than $200 million from the Philippine treasury and investing most of it in jewels, art and four pieces of prime Manhattan real estate.
The jurors said they were not convinced that Mrs. Marcos knew about any wrongdoing, and questioned why the case was tried in the United States. On their very first ballot, in the first moments of deliberations, they voted 10 to 2 to acquit her.