Key parts of a sworn statement that is central to the recent request by millionaire Dominic F. Antonelli Jr. and D.C. mayoral aide Joseph P. Yeldell for a new trial were disavowed yesterday by the man who allegedly made the statements.
John H. Jones, the father of a juror who is a central figure in Antonelli's and Yeldell's new-trail plea, said in an interview yesterday that there are errors in the affidavit he signed on Nov. 8. In the affidavit, Jones allegedly said his daughter knew he had been fired in 1967 from a job at a parking company owned by Antonelli. Yesterday, Jones termed false the statement about his daughter's knowlege of the firing.
"That wasn't so," Jones replied yesterday when asked about his affidavit. "That's not true."
Jones said he had signed the affidavit, despite what he now describes as errors in it, because he had not understood parts of the statement when it was read to him by Antonelli's lawyers. "I don't have but a fifth grade education. I can't read too good," Jones said. "There are some things in that affidavit that I didn't understand."
Antonelli and Yeldell, who were convicted by a U.S. District Court jury last month on bribery and conspiracy charges, have sought a new trial largely on the basis of their claim that one juror. Jones' daughter, Diane P. Jones, was biased aginst Antonelli as a result of her father's dismissal from his job at Antonelli's firm, Parking Management Inc.
In seeking a new trial, Edward Bennett Williams, Antonelli's chief defense laywer, had agued that "this juror (Diane Jones) recognized, consciously or subconsciously, an opportunity to settle an old family score" by serving on the jury that convicted Antonelli Williams contended that Jones' alleged bias against Antonelli had denied him the right to a fair trial.
One of Williams' associates, David E. Kendall, said yesterday that Antonelli's lawyers would continue their past practice of declining to comment on developments in the case. Federal prosecutors also refused to comment yesterday. John Jones, who was interviewed by a Washington Post reporter at a Diplomat Parking Corp. garage where he currently works, said he had already been questioned by the prosecutors and had told them his affidavit was inaccurate. A court hearing on Antonelli's and Yeldell's request for a new trial is scheduled for Wednesday.
John Jones' statements yesterday appeared to support similar statements made previously by his daughter, Diane, 27, an Amtrak clerk. In a telephone interview with The Post, Diane Jones said she had not known at the time she was chosen to serve on the jury that her father had ever worked for Antonelli's parking firm or that her father had been fired from his PMI job. Asked whether her father's past employment at PMI had influenced her decision in the trial, she replied, "No, it didn't."
Diane Jones' statements were made before the issuance of a court order prohibiting her from further comment on the issue.
Yeldell, who is on unpaid leave from his job as a top aide to Mayor Walter E. Washington, and Antonelli, an influential business executive and real estate developer, are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Gerhard A. Gesell on Nov. 30.
They were convicted of conspiring corruptly to arrange a lucrative D.C. government lease of a Northeast Washington building from a partnership controlled by Antonelli. In exchange for Yeldell's help in securing the lease, Antonelli was found guilty of secretly giving Yeldell a $33,000 loan after helping him obtain shortterm loans from a bank in which Antonelli is a stockholder and director. The jury took only about 3 hours and 40 minutes to reach its verdict.
In yesterday's interview, John Jones, the juror's father, said he had never told his daugher that he had been fired by PMI, Antonelli's company. He said he seldom talked about his job at home, did not mention Antonelli's name to his family and was uncertain whether his daughter ever knew he had been employed by PMI. "She didn't know what PMI was. The only thing she knew was the red (PMI) shirt (which Jones wore to work)," he said.
Several of these statements appear to contradict parts of Jones' Nov. 8 affidavit.
Jones said he did not know why Antonelli's lawyers had failed to raise questions about his daughter's service on the jury while the trial was still going on. He said he had mentioned to a PMI official, Ronald L. Williams, that his daughter was a jury member during the second week of the three-week trial. Williams is a high-ranking PMI official and partner in several of Antonelli's real estate investments.
Williams declined to comment yesterday. In a recent affidavit, Williams said, "I did not regard his (Jones') statement that Jones' daughter was a juror as being at all significant because I assumed that the lawyers would have brought out all the facts relating to Ms. Jones before the jury was elected."