The federal court jury considering the fraud and conspiracy case against Mary Treadwell was inadvertently given a prosecution document it wasn't supposed to see, but U.S. District Judge John Garrett Penn ruled yesterday that the mishap did not warrant his declaring a mistrial.
The jurors discovered the document Friday night among the estimated 400 legitimate exhibits in the complex case and asked Penn if it was in evidence. Penn said that he instructed the jurors to disregard the document, an order he reiterated yesterday.
Meanwhile, the jury, comprised of eight women and four men, continued its marathon deliberations for a seventh day, again without reaching a verdict. The jury has now deliberated 51 hours and will resume Monday.
Treadwell is accused of using P.I. Properties Inc., her now-defunct real estate firm, to defraud the federal government and the tenants of the dilapidated Clifton Terrace apartment complex, which the firm owned, of thousands of dollars to enrich herself.
While the jurors deliberated, John W. Nields Jr., one of Treadwell's court-appointed attorneys, told Penn that he should either dismiss 12 of the 21 charges against his client because the jury erroneously had been given the document earlier in the week or declare a mistrial.
Penn agreed that the accidental inclusion of the one-page document among the legitimate exhibits given to the jury "obviously raises a very, very serious question."
The disputed document appears to suggest that P.I. Properties should have reported loans made to the firm when the company filed monthly financial reports with the Department of Housing and Urban Development about the Clifton Terrace apartment complex.
Among other things, Treadwell is accused of making 12 false statements to HUD by filing allegedly false monthly financial statements about Clifton Terrace. Nields has contended that the firm did not have to tell HUD about loans the firm received for other business ventures because the reports were supposed to deal with financial conditions at Clifton Terrace, not the company as a whole.
Nields called the document "a nice, neat condensation of the government's theory of the case. If they have seen the document, there is no question it is prejudicial to defendant Treadwell."
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney William D. Pease told Penn that the information on the document had been introduced as evidence in the seven-week-long trial and described the figures as "facts, not theory."
Penn said he had "no way of knowing how or why this document was erroneously sent to the jury." But he said that by instructing the jury to disregard the document it was similar to telling the jurors to disregard irrelevant testimony given by witnesses in the case.