Jurors Dismissed from Fraud Trial After Reported Bribes

(BrightPress.org) – A juror was dismissed on Monday, June 3rd from a pandemic-related fraud trial after a bribe was dropped at her home. The juror said a woman brought a gift bag full of cash totaling $120,000 to her home while she was away. The woman left the bag with the juror’s father-in-law along with a message that more money would be delivered if the juror voted to acquit the seven defendants in the case. The juror immediately called the police to report the attempted bribe and turned over the cash.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel confirmed that no other jurors or alternates received any unauthorized contact before allowing the trial to continue. As a precaution, the jury was sequestered for the remainder of the proceedings. Brasel said she made the decision to “ensure a fair trial.” Brasel then ordered the FBI to seize the cellphones of the defendants. They were later taken into custody.

A second juror was replaced on Tuesday after a family member inquired if the jury had been sequestered as a result of the attempted bribe. Both jurors have been replaced with alternates and deliberations have continued.

The seven defendants in this case are the first to be tried after the U.S. The Attorney’s Office charged a group of 70 people for committing fraud. During the pandemic, the non-profit organization, Feeding Our Future participated in the Federal Child Nutrition Program in Minnesota to provide free meals to children and low-income families. Prosecutors allege the defendants received $250 million from the program and spent it on luxuries, only using a small portion to provide meals.

The seven defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges of felony conspiracy, federal programs bribery, money laundering, and wire fraud.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thompson said the attempted bribe is outrageous and resembles something that “happens in mob movies.”

Frederick Goetz, an attorney representing one of the defendants said his client “had absolutely no part” in the bribery attempt.

Copyright 2024, BrightPress.org