Mistrial declared in federal bribery trial of Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson – CBS Philly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A mistrial has been declared in the federal bribery case of Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. The jury remained deadlocked Tuesday after four days of deliberations and could not reach a verdict.

All Tuesday, the jury had been asking both sides to see different exhibits. During the trial, the prosecution alone presented more than 300 pieces of evidence.

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The jury had gone back to the judge twice saying they were having trouble reaching a verdict.

On Tuesday morning, the judge gave them the so-called Allen charge, encouraging them to keep working.

The jury heard testimony for more than three weeks.

Prosecutors allege that Johnson accepted disguised bribes through a consulting contract with his wife, Dawn Chavous. The contract was with the developer Universal Companies.

The non-profit organization was trying to rebuild the Royal Theater on South Street. Chavous received $67,000, but prosecutors say it was a veiled bribe to secure Johnson’s vote to rezone the property.

CBS3 spoke with Johnson and his attorney, Patrick Egan, as they left court.

“First of all, I just want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and I want to thank my family, friends, and supporters for praying for us and showing us support during this very stressful time,” Johnson said.

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While prosecutors say the government is committed to retrying the case, they kept quiet as they left the courthouse.

Johnson’s attorneys say it comes down to a lack of evidence.

“The problem, in this case, is that there is no evidence, in our opinion. Fortunately, some of the jurors obviously saw it that way too. We believe that will not change because there is evidence that my client did nothing wrong,” Egan said.

“Hopefully, at the end of the day, reason and justice will prevail and this case will end, as it should, without any conviction for either my client or his spouse,” Egan said.

“This has been a long journey for them over the six years and we hope it will be at the end,” attorney Barry Gross said.

As for what’s next, Johnson’s team says he plans to talk to prosecutors to avoid a new trial.

Johnson said he will return to work immediately.

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CBS3’s Howard Monroe and Kerri Corrado contributed to this report.

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