Criminal Justice

Juror excused after mystery woman left bag of cash at her home and explained why

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AP Food Fraud Minnesota_800px

The offices of Feeding Our Future are shown Jan. 27, 2022, in St. Anthony, Minnesota, a week after an FBI raid. Earlier this year, seven defendants were charged in what federal prosecutors allege was a massive scheme to steal from a program meant to provide meals to low-income children in Minnesota. (Photo by Shari L. Gross/The Star Tribune via the Associated Press)

A 23-year-old juror in a charity fraud trial was excused Monday after a woman dressed in black visited her home Sunday evening with a Hallmark gift bag containing about $120,000 cash.

The juror’s father-in-law had answered the door. The woman said there would be more money the next day if the juror voted to acquit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Thompson of Minnesota said in court. When the juror got home, she turned over the money to police.

The Minnesota Reformer, the Star Tribune, the New York Times and the Sahan Journal have coverage.

“This is outrageous behavior,” Thompson said, according to the Star Tribune. “This is stuff that happens in mob movies.”

The juror was to deliberate the fate of seven people accused of stealing millions of dollars from a government program to feed low-income children through reimbursements to schools, day care facilities and nonprofits.

The defendants are associated with the Feeding Our Future nonprofit. They are accused of accepting more than $40 million in government money while spending only about 10% of the funds on food, according to the Star Tribune.

After Thompson revealed the attempted bribe, U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel of the District of Minnesota questioned remaining jurors and alternates about unauthorized contacts and ordered them sequestered. She also detained the seven defendants and ordered the confiscation of their cellphones.

The defendants and attorneys briefly saw the names and addresses of potential jurors before jury selection began, according to the Star Tribune.

“Let’s be honest, it wasn’t someone outside of this room,” Thompson said in arguing that the defendants should be detained, according to the Sahan Journal.

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