Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jury Infighting at the Gotti Trial?

There's more infighting on the Gotti jury than at a gangland sitdown - and they're not even deliberating yet!

A tattling juror revealed the bad blood in a letter to the judge - ratting out a foul-mouthed, lunch-stealing fellow juror who isn't in a hurry to convict the mob scion.

"She announced that we the jurors better be prepared to be deliberating until after the Christmas holiday because ... she is not going to allow any f------ body to rush her," the two-page letter said.

The missive - signed "A Concerned Juror" - also accused juror No. 7 of ogling "defense attorney Mr. Charles Carneglia," apparently confusing defense lawyer Charles Carnesi with mob hit man Charles Carneglia.

The seventh juror allegedly found him "very handsome" and gave her "undivided attention" to the defense team, the letter said.

The mixup brought laughter from the defense table. "Hey, Frank," Gotti said to radio producer Frank Morano out of the jury's earshot. "The juror thinks the guy who represents me is a five-time murderer! What shot do I have?"

The letter contained other complaints about juror No. 7:

- She loudly announced plans for a book "regarding sitting in a jury room with jurors and their f------ attitude."

- She constantly spewed obscenities.

- She charged a takeout order of fried calamari to the court's tab when the panel visited a local restaurant.

Gotti supporters said juror No. 7 seemed to be an independent spirit but called for Judge Kevin Castel to give the letter writer the heave-ho. Castel did neither - but he did interview each panel member about the allegation that the juror, a 34-year-old postal worker, violated orders and yapped about the trial.

The judge asked each of the 16 jurors whether juror No. 7 had violated her oath by talking about the case, reading about it or getting information from outside sources.

"Maybe," said one juror, a 52-year-old retired teacher. "I think if someone talks to her about it on the outside, they may bring information to her about what they heard."

The judge did not ask who wrote the letter, and it was unclear if it might lead to a fourth mistrial in the federal racketeering case against Gotti.

The letter wasn't the only surprise yesterday: A woman called Castel's chambers to say she was approached by people saying, "John Gotti is on your side!" Out of the jury's presence, Castel asked the U.S. marshals to speak with the woman, who left her name and number, but dismissed it as a prank.

Thanks to Alison Gendar and Larry McShane

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