85.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesJuror from Tax-Evasion Trial Pleads Guilty to Soliciting Bribe

Juror from Tax-Evasion Trial Pleads Guilty to Soliciting Bribe

Dorothy Hendricks, 54, of St. Croix, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court on St. Croix to soliciting a bribe when she served as a juror in the tax-evasion case against James A. Auffenberg Jr. and three other men.

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 Hendricks’ phone and, on March 3, she was removed from the jury and replaced by an alternate. The jury was instructed to begin deliberating anew, according to the FBI’s affidavit accompanying the indictment. On March 4, the jury acquitted Auffenberg and the other three defendants.

Regardless of any problems with the initial trial, the defendants cannot be tried again due to the constitutional principle of double jeopardy, which 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. The 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, Hendricks decided to call the defense attorney, who reported the incident.

Hendricks admitted during the plea hearing that, in exchange for money, she would have been influenced in the performance of an official act — her juror vote on the case. Rendering a verdict for pay would be a fraud upon the United States and a violation of Hendricks’ official duty as a juror, said U.S. Attorney Paul Murphy in his announcement of the plea agreement. Murphy emphasized the damage to the rule of law and society caused by this sort of violation of the public trust.

"If the jury system is corrupted — by bribes, considerations of family and friends, bias, prejudice or any other improper considerations — then everyone’s safety and freedom will be lost,” he said.

Hendricks faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to 5 years. She may also be disqualified from holding any public office of honor, trust or profit within the United States.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.