On tape recordings played for jurors, former Philadelphia police Inspector Daniel Castro sounded calm and matter-of-fact as he discussed plans to hire an enforcer who would not hesitate to use violence to collect a $90,000 debt.
But when Castro took the witness stand in his federal court trial, jurors saw a man whose voice shook and broke as he expressed shame and regret. The FBI entrapped him into committing crimes when he was most vulnerable, he maintained, and his eyes more than once filled with tears as he spoke of the devastation that his arrest caused to his family.
In the end, most jurors sided with the Castro who testified for hours in front of them, defending himself even as he admitted to many of the charges. Wednesday afternoon, jurors deadlocked, 10-2, for acquittal on eight of the 10 counts Castro was charged with.
Afterward, some jurors said they believed Castro, 47, had been set up. One juror said she did not even think the case should have been tried.
Castro's attorney, Brian McMonagle, said Thursday that Castro's emotional and passionate testimony was a crucial element.
"It's one thing to listen to a guy on a tape," McMonagle said. "You've got to meet him and see what's there. He came from his heart. A lot of jurors, quite frankly, put themselves in his shoes. I think they thought, 'It could be any of us.' "
Prosecutors have declined to comment. Castro could be retried, but no decision has yet been made.
Castro was found guilty of lying to FBI agents when they questioned him about the extortion scheme. He was acquitted of one extortion charge unrelated to the $90,000 debt.
Castro's family members were in attendance throughout the six-day trial, including his mother, whom he described as "heartbroken" by his arrest.
Castro was indicted in November on allegations that he planned the extortion of a former business partner who owed him money, and that he authorized the use of threats and violence to recoup the debt. No such extortion ever actually took place.
Much of the case was built with help from Rony Moshe, a longtime friend of Castro's and a secret FBI informant who told authorities Castro was looking to hire a "collector." The FBI then asked Moshe, a convicted drug dealer, to start recording his conversations with Castro.
McMonagle argued in trial that Castro was the victim of overzealous investigators who took Moshe at his word and immediately launched a criminal investigation into Castro, a 25-year officer who aspired to be commissioner. McMonagle said in his closing arguments that Castro's lifelong dream to become a police officer had been destroyed by Moshe, whom he described as a liar and a criminal.
Castro, believed to be the highest-ranking officer to be arrested in several decades, spoke openly on the witness stand about his involvement with the scheme. He gave the $90,000 to friend Wilson Encarnacion in 2006 as an investment in a real estate development that went south.
Castro filed a lawsuit, but he grew increasingly desperate to recover the money. He testified that it was intended for his son, who was released last November after completing a prison sentence for attempted murder.
Moshe told Castro that the collectors would visit Encarnacion's New Jersey home to "scare" him, Castro testified.
Initially, Castro said Moshe led him to believe the collectors would use legal methods to recoup the money. But on tape, Castro can be heard telling Moshe that he can't "get implicated into this."
Moshe told Castro that the collectors visited Encarnacion's home, and gave Castro cash payments purportedly taken from Encarnacion. When the money was not being collected quickly enough, Moshe suggested that the enforcers start using violence, and Castro agreed.
On the stand last week, Castro vehemently denied that he started with the intention of breaking the law, and said Moshe convinced him that violence was the only way for him to get his money back. At times, Castro bristled under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen, telling him that "you sent this man after me, sir."
McMonagle said he was not sure at the time how Castro's testimony was being received by jurors. But when the trial was over and the verdict came in, he said, several jurors approached him and told him how affected they had been.
Two jurors said they were sickened by what Castro had been "put through," McMonagle said, and said they wished that they had been able to acquit on the remainder of the charges.
"They were just devastated by this, and they were angry," McMonagle said.
An FBI handbook from the 1990s, released under a Freedom of Information Act request, mandates that agents "scrupulously" avoid entrapment. Its definition of entrapment: "When the government implants in the mind of a person who is not otherwise disposed to commit the offense the disposition to commit the offense, and then induces the commission of that offense in order to prosecute."
A critic of the FBI's use of criminal informants, former agent James J. Wedick, said in an e-mail message that "across the country there are a number of cases - mostly terrorism but some criminal - where the bureau has used an 'overly' aggressive informant."
A 34-year veteran who ran a corruption unit in Sacramento, Wedick now runs a firm offering expert testimony to attorneys in criminal trials. He said informants "have been allowed to suggest untold amounts of criminal activity - sometimes with little in a defendant's background to suggest he/she is 'predisposed' to commit the criminal activity."
Successful entrapment defenses are not common, said Leonard N. Sosnov, a professor of criminal law at Widener Law School. "They don't happen that often. There aren't a whole lot of not-guilty verdicts based on entrapment."
Sosnov said the prosecutors' case may have been hurt by the jury's reaction to Moshe, a key witness: "If the idea came from him, and they don't like him a whole lot, and they are somewhat sympathetic to Castro, there you have it."