June 19, 2009 — Dorothy Hendricks of St. Croix has been charged with bribery and contempt of court for allegedly asking for money in exchange for a not-guilty verdict while serving as a juror in the tax evasion case against James A. Auffenberg Jr. and three other men.
According to the FBI's charges in federal court, she identified a second juror who she said also was seeking a bribe.
During the trial in March, a Kapok defense attorney reported getting a phone call from a woman asking how much they would pay for a not-guilty verdict. After being told the call would have to be reported to the court, the caller said "forget it," and "I told them that this would not work," according to the FBI's affidavit supporting the charges. She then purportedly asked the attorney not to report the contact to the court.
The FBI traced the call to Hendrick's phone and on March 3 she was removed from the jury and replaced by an alternate and the jury was instructed to begin anew, according to the FBI's affidavit accompanying the indictment. On March 4, the jury acquitted Auffenberg and the other three defendants. (See "Jury Returns Not-Guilty Verdict in Auffenberg Case.")
The constitutional principle of double jeopardy forbids retrying a person for the same crime after an acquittal.
Hendricks told the FBI that during breaks in the trial she talked with another juror who she happened to know and this second juror brought up the idea of making some money, passing her a note with the figure of $3,000 to $5,000 on it. This alleged second juror asked "how the zeros looked" and Hendricks said she told the person "they looked good." Then, according to the indictment, the second juror told her to wait to be contacted by a third person, who Hendricks knew was connected to the case. After not hearing from this third person, Hendrick's decided to call the defense attorney, who reported the incident. No names are giving in court papers, instead referring to them as Attorney X, Juror X and Person X. According to the indictment, Hendricks she was making coffee in the jury room Feb. 28 when Juror X had "sent Person X to you," and told her Person X was "safe." She knew Person X and believed he or she paid off jurors. The affidavit does not say why Hendricks later called a defense attorney instead of the person she expected to contact her.
Hendricks, who is presumed to be innocent until or unless she is convicted, is charged with two counts of bribery, one for asking for and the other for agreeing to accept a bribe. She is also charged with contempt of court for violating judge's orders not to talk to any of the attorney's in the case for allegedly calling one of the defense attorneys while a juror on the case and demanded a bribe in exchange for a not guilty verdict.
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