MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Investigators on Long Island said they busted a greedy juror trying to bribe the victim’s family, hoping to get a huge chunk of cash to “fix” the verdict.
CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan has more on the get-rich scheme that backfired.
Judge Dana Winslow was overseeing the proceedings in the State Supreme Court when flabbergasted jurors watched court officers enter their chamber and arrest seated juror Deonarine Persaud.
Persaud was accused of trying to sway the whole panel – in exchange for cash from a potential verdict award in a civil lawsuit.
“This is the first time in the history of the state of New York that such an incident has become public,” Judge Winslow said.
“It was shocking. It was really shocking, and upsetting to all of us,” plaintiff Bridget Wigand said.
Wigand, a Massapequa hairstylist, filed suit against a doctor for medical malpractice.
The jury was close to deliberations when Wigand’s parents received a mysterious phone call. The man on the phone said he had new, damaging information on the doctor. Wigand’s father was told to meet the caller at the Home Depot in Freeport.
The district attorney said surveillance cameras overhead were rolling when Persaud identified himself as a juror, offering to fix the verdict for a fee.
The Wigands immediately called their lawyer, who contacted the district attorney and the judge – and a mistrial was declared.
“You know, what happened was a nightmare,” Wigand said.
Persaud was charged with felony bribe receiving, as well as a misdemeanor count of juror misconduct, and was whisked off to jail. His family in Long Beach had no comment.
“He violated that oath and broke the law, and we are going to hold him accountable,” Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. “People need to understand that you can’t abuse the system in this way.”
Rice said Persaud demanded five percent of the settlement. Instead, he’ll face seven years in prison for jury tampering.
Persaud did not make bail, and he’s being held at Nassau County Jail. His arraignment was scheduled for Thursday.
Wigand’s medical malpractice trial will now have to start from scratch.
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