Man gets new mortgage fraud trial because of sleeping lawyer

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pittsburgh-area businessman will get a new trial on mortgage fraud charges because his defense attorney was seen sleeping by the judge, witnesses and federal court jurors who convicted him last year.

U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose ruled Monday that James Nassida was denied a fair trial because Stan Levenson dozed during the October trial.

Levenson acknowledges sleeping because he was taking cold medicines that made him drowsy. He moved for a mistrial, but the judge opted to wait for the jury’s verdict first and to let Nassida file an appeal if he was convicted.

After that happened, Nassida’s new attorney, James Brink, filed the appeal. The new trial is scheduled to begin in September.

Nassida is accused of inflating borrowers’ income to get millions of dollars in fraudulent loans through his Century III Home Equity firm.

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