Closing arguments delayed in Petro America case

Complications with jury instructions have pushed back the start of closing arguments in the trial of five people accused of bilking investors out of millions of dollars by illegally selling them stock in a company prosecutors say was worthless.

Isreal Owen Hawkins of Kansas City, Kan., and four others are accused of selling unregistered stock in Petro America Corp., which they claimed was worth $284 billion. Prosecutors say the defendants continued selling shares even after Missouri regulators ordered them to stop.

U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes told jurors Monday afternoon he hadn't anticipated it would take so long to iron out issues with jury instructions in a case that has five defendants, including Hawkins, who is representing himself. Closing arguments now are scheduled to start Tuesday morning.