Jurors deliberated for a third day Wednesday in the tax evasion trial of a prominent dermatologist, but again did not reach a verdict.

The doctor, Joel Sabean, who had a successful practice in South Portland for decades, is accused of evading taxes by claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars in apparently fraudulent medical expenses for a family member who lived in Florida.

The trial in U.S. District Court in Portland began Nov. 1 and went to the jury Monday. Jurors have deliberated 27 hours over the three days they have had the case.

Defense lawyers moved for a mistrial Tuesday after jurors appeared to be at a stalemate and asked to have the testimony of two psychiatrists – one who testified for the defense and another for prosecutors – read back to them. District Court Judge George Z. Singal denied the motion for the mistrial and encouraged jurors to redouble their efforts.

The 10 women and two men on the jury began deliberations again Wednesday morning and continued until around 5 p.m. On Monday and Tuesday, they deliberated until 8 p.m.

The family member, who the Portland Press Herald is not naming, claimed that Sabean had sexually abused her since she was 12 or 13 and that he made the payments – about $2.3 million in all – to keep her quiet about the abuse and to maintain an exchange of sexually explicit emails and photographs.

Sabean is not charged with sexual abuse.

Sabean did not take the stand in his defense, but his lawyers claim that the abuse allegations are a lie and that the woman duped him into believing that her claims of a string of serious medical problems – including a kidney transplant, a heart transplant and severed and reattached toes – were real. She admitted sending Sabean fake bills for the medical procedures, but said she and Sabean conspired to make up the bills to satisfy questions from Sabean’s wife and from workers in his South Portland practice.

Sabean is also accused of violating federal drug laws by writing dozens of prescriptions for the woman, who was not a patient of Sabean’s. And he is accused of health care fraud by making out some of those prescriptions to his wife, even though they were filled for the relative. Because the prescriptions were made out to Sabean’s wife, part of the cost of the medications was covered by insurance. The family member was not on Sabean’s insurance plan.

Defense lawyers claim that Sabean has psychiatric problems that made him vulnerable to being manipulated by the family member.

The payments to the woman were sent via wire transfers, pre-paid debit and credit cards, joint banking accounts and PayPal accounts. Sabean sometimes made two or three transfers of tens of thousands of dollars in a single day.

Prosecutors said that Sabean never visited the woman in Florida, despite her bills, calls and emails to him indicating that she had serious medical problems over the course of more than five years. They have suggested that he knew the illnesses and treatments were faked and his lack of a visit is evidence of that knowledge.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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