- Last Updated: 1:26 AM, December 1, 2012
- Posted: 1:26 AM, December 1, 2012
The verdict was almost unanimous.
A mob trial took a bizarre twist yesterday after a jury announced its unanimous verdict to acquit — but then Juror No. 6 silenced the courtroom by announcing that she disagreed.
Anthony Romanello, 74, who faced extortion charges over a $30,000 mortgage-commission dispute, celebrated when his not-guilty verdict was announced.
But his smile left his face after Brooklyn federal Judge Carol Amon polled the jury, asking if they all agreed with the verdict. The normally uneventful formality left onlookers stunned when Juror No. 6 unexpectedly said that, “no,” she didn’t agree with the verdict.
Amon then sent the jury back to continue their deliberations. After two hours the forewoman returned to say the holdout juror — a heavyset, middle-aged woman with a thick accent — seemed unable to grasp basic concepts central to the case.
“It may be there is some language issue,” the forewoman said, adding that before entering the courtroom the woman had voted with the majority to acquit the wiseguy. “All of us were extremely shocked.”
“She seems quite firm in her conviction,” the forewoman said, referring to Juror No. 6’s newfound belief that Romanello is guilty.
The judge then decided to dismiss the lone woman juror, noting that the circumstances involved were “obviously a unique situation.”
The 11 remaining jurors then delivered their unanimous verdict to acquit Romanello of all charges.
The judge was able to allow the short-handed verdict without declaring a mistrial because all parties in the case agreed to accept the ruling.
Prosecutors would not say why they did not oppose the verdict.
Defense attorney Gerald McMahon said after court that he had never seen a juror unexpectedly balk at a decision reached unanimously just moments earlier.
Romanello, meanwhile, felt “absolutely delighted and frankly vindicated” by the eventual verdict, McMahon said.
The feds had charged him with several extortion counts related to a dispute between “connected” wiseguys over a mortgage loan commission that resulted in a sit down between the Genovese and Bonanno crime families in 2007.
Romanello was sentenced to house arrest earlier this year after pleading guilty to playing a role in a 1990 conspiracy to intimidate a debtor into paying a debt.