Jury favored Wecht conviction, 6-5, on 17 counts

Letter from juror doesn't give vote on other 24 charges

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The jury in the federal trial of Dr. Cyril H. Wecht split 6-5 in favor of conviction on 17 of the 41 counts against the former Allegheny County coroner, according to a letter from a juror released today by the U.S. government.

That information was included in a court filing responding to defense allegations that the government might have improperly identified jurors and used FBI agents to contact them after the case ended last week in a mistrial. Prosecutors denied the accusations.

"At no time during this process did any agent or attorney for the government intimidate or threaten any jurors in any way whatsoever, and at no time did any government attorneys or agents violate any order of this court," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen S. Stallings wrote.

Today's disclosure marks the first public indication of the exact split among the 11 jurors, who told the court they were hopelessly deadlocked on all charges on the 11th day of deliberations. A mistrial was declared and a new trial is set for May 27. One juror was dismissed for medical reasons partway through deliberations.

The author of the letter, who was not named by prosecutors, did not indicate how the panel split on the other 24 counts.

"I am pleased the federal government has decided to pursue the charges of fraud against Dr. Cyril Wecht. Following weeks of testimony and challenging deliberations, I was relieved the federal government will pursue this case beyond the most recent jury panel," the juror wrote to the government Saturday in a letter that prosecutors said was unsolicited.

Dr. Wecht, 77, is charged with wire fraud, mail fraud and theft from an organization receiving federal funds. Prosecutors contend he used his public office for private gain and that he defrauded his private clients.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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