Feeding Our Future trial: jury tampering/bags of cash edition

In a court case full of surprises, the biggest one yet dropped this morning. Seven (7) defendants in the Feeding Our Future scandal are in a Minneapolis Federal courtroom, on trial in the first of a series in the case.

This Monday morning was supposed to feature three defense attorneys presenting closing arguments for their clients before the case was to be handed over to the jury for a verdict.

The following narrative summarizes the reporting of those on the scene (with links below):

Instead of more closing statements, prosecutors had a surprise announcement to make: an attempt was made last night to bribe one of the 18 jurors empaneled to hear the case.

The juror goes by the designation of Juror #52, age 23, and she is the only nonwhite member of the jury (reportedly Asian).

Last night, it is alleged, a Somali woman driving a Mazda visited the juror’s Spring Lake Park home and delivered a message and a bag with $120,000 in 50’s and 100’s to the juror’s father-in-law. The message was that another bag would be delivered if the juror voted for acquital.

The Star Tribune, quoting the prosecutor this morning,

“This is completely beyond the pale,” he told U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel. “This is outrageous behavior. This is stuff that happens in mob movies.”

The judge had no choice but to dismiss the juror, who had dutifully called local police to report the encounter and hand over the cash. The FBI now has the cash.

The judge then interviewed the remaining 17 jurors about any unauthorized contacts.

The judge ordered the FBI to seize the cell phones of all seven defendants. Prosecutors indicated that they will apply for search warrants.

The judge will decide later this afternoon whether the defendants should be detained or the jury sequestered for the remainder of the trial.

After attending the trial, in person, three days in a row, I skipped this morning’s session to fulfill other commitments. It looks like I missed out.

Media accounts of the recent events:

Juror in Feeding Our Future case excused after being offered bags of cash to acquit • Minnesota Reformer

Juror in Feeding Our Future trial dismissed after woman offers bag of $120,000 in cash to acquit defendants (startribune.com)

Prosecutors: Feeding Our Future juror bribed with $120K in cash (sahanjournal.com)

At the Feeding our Fraud trial: Cash for a juror | Power Line (powerlineblog.com)