Woman Says She Lied to Get on Jury in Tax-Shelter Case

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Written By admin at Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Pigs flew. A snowball had a chance in hell. Someone lied to get into — rather than out of — jury service.

A Bronx woman admitted on the stand Wednesday to lying about her legal and criminal background in order to serve as a juror in a high-profile tax-shelter fraud trial last year.

Catherine Conrad said she omitted details about her background in order to serve on the jury in the trial last year of Paul Daugerdas, the former head of Jenkens & Gilchrist’s Chicago office and Denis Field, accounting firm BDO Seidman’s former chief executive. The men have asked for a new trial in part because of the juror’s alleged misconduct.

However, Conrad, who testified Wednesday under limited immunity, said she was an unbiased juror despite her omissions.

Conrad was arrested after she failed to show up at a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday and initially asserted her Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate herself before receiving immunity.

“You didn’t do your civic duty, did you?,” asked Chris Gair, a lawyer for Daugerdas.

“Rendering a jury verdict in an unbiased fashion, I certainly did,” Conrad said.

Daugerdas, Field and two others were convicted of criminal charges in May 2011, following a 10-week trial and almost two weeks of deliberations by jurors. Jurors had to restart their deliberations at one point after a sick juror was replaced by an alternate.

In court papers, the defense has claimed that Conrad lied during voir dire, or questioning of potential jurors. They claim she omitted that she held a law degree, she had been suspended from the practice of law since 2007 and that she had a criminal record.

The issues were raised following a letter Conrad wrote to prosecutors after the trial, praising their work on the case and discussing some of the jury deliberations.

On Wednesday, Conrad repeatedly sparred with Gair, Daugerdas’s lawyer, on topics ranging from his questions about whether her behavior was “irrational” to what she told U.S. marshals when they served her with a subpoena in December.

“I told them we have cats if you’re allergic stay outside,” she said.

• When Gair asked if she had been arrested for shop lifting greeting cards: “No, it was a bag of shrimp,” she said.

• When Gair asked if she had been charged with assault at the time of an arrest for driving under the influence: “I believe punched the cop in the stomach. That was dismissed,” she said.

• When Gair asked if her husband had been charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon in the 1990s: That was in “Kentucky in 1976 when he tried to board an airplane with a gun,” she said. “I was 10 years old then.”

Conrad also testified that she is an alcoholic, noting she had a cup and a half of “very cheap vodka” on Tuesday night and her last drink before that was Jan. 8.

“How do you remember that?” Gair asked.

“Because alcoholics generally do that,” Conrad said.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley III is conducting a two-day evidentiary hearing to examine the juror’s alleged misconduct and if any of the defense lawyers knew during the trial that she may have lied about her background. The hearing is expected to conclude Thursday.

Conrad was allowed to go home after she completed her testimony. However, Gair, Daugerdas’s lawyer, told the court that he believed she perjured herself again on the stand on Wednesday.

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