Two members of a jury that acquitted Rodney Morrison in 2008 of murder, extortion and arson, but convicted him of making millions by running a cigarette-bootlegging racket from the Poospatuck Indian Reservation in Mastic, testified Monday they were unaware a bribe had been offered to influence their deliberations.
The testimony of Bernard Finn and Winifred Morgan before U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley followed testimony two weeks ago of another juror and an alternate that some sort of bribe offer had been made.
That bribe offer came over a cellphone they found five years ago in the parking lot of the federal courthouse in Central Islip, foreman Keith Anstead and alternate Michelle Carratu testified.
Anstead testified two weeks ago that when he answered a call to the phone, he was offered a bribe of up to $20,000 to fix the jury. Anstead said he told the caller he would accept it, but did so only to get off the phone, and never received any money.
Anstead testified he assumed the caller was a Morrison relative because he saw the name Morrison in a list of phone numbers and saw a video of a person he thought was Morrison's son dancing with a topless women.
Anstead testified he thought he might have told the two jurors who testified Monday -- Finn and Morgan -- about finding the phone, but did not tell them about the bribe offer.
Carratu, who was listening to the call, said she thought Anstead was seriously negotiating a bribe with the caller.
Finn testified Anstead told him about finding the cellphone, but not about any bribe attempt. Morgan testified she had not been told about the cellphone or the bribe attempt.
Hurley acknowledged Monday the case raises "somewhat of a novel issue," and one legal scholar has said the circumstances have not yet been decided by the Supreme Court.
The judge has to determine whether the deliberations were tainted enough to seriously affect the verdicts, what should be done if the jury was compromised and who is responsible.
Morrison's defense attorneys, including Kenneth Ravenell and William Murphy, argue that the jury was tainted and that Morrison should be retried on the charges he was convicted of but not those from which he was cleared, which they said would amount to double jeopardy.
Federal prosecutors Nicole Boeckmann and James Miskiewicz, however, said if the deliberations were seriously compromised, Morrison should be retried on all charges. The defense and prosecution agreed that if Morrison was behind a bribe attempt, he could be retried on all charges.Hurley asked that both sides submit legal briefs to him in the next several months before he makes a decision.