At the Feeding our Fraud trial: Cash for a juror

I am on hand for the last of the closing arguments scheduled for this morning in the first Feeding Our Future fraud trial. When Judge Brasel took the bench she announced that she had just learned of a juror contact at home last night and that the FBI was investigating. She further announced that she had excused the juror — juror number 52. Judge Brasel intends to voir dire the jury on other possible contacts and asked counsel to respond.

Lead prosecutor Joe Thompson provided additional details. He described the contact as “completely beyond the pale.” He said a Somali woman had arrived at the juror’s home and left a bag of cash with a promise of more to come. The juror not being home, she left the cash with the juror’s father or father-in-law (I think). Thompson asked that the defendants now be detained and their cell phones taken into custody. The judge ordered that the defendants’ cell phones be turned to airplane mode and turned over to one of the FBI agents in the courtroom pending an application for search warrants.

According to Thompson, the juror called 911 and the Spring Lake Park Police have taken custody of the cash — [update: the amount is $120,000]. It will be retrieved by the FBI.

The judge took a break to mull over further proceedings. Joe Thompson just approached the media in the first row and commented: “You’re getting your money’s worth this morning.” I will have more later, but this is a development that is illustrative of the heart of this case and worthy of immediate note. I have never seen anything like it.

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