PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal judge declared a mistrial in an embezzlement and bribery case against two acquitted men along with a Philadelphia council member and his wife in a separate case last week.
The Philadelphia Investigator reports Monday’s decision came after a juror in the case against Rahim Islam and Shahied Dawan contracted COVID-19 and no substitute was available due to high turnover during the month-long trial . Prosecutors suggested continuing with just 11 jurors, an option allowed by Federal Court rules, but defense attorneys did not consent.
Islam and Dawan are former executives of Universal Companies, the affordable housing and charter school nonprofit founded by Philadelphia music producer Kenny Gamble to improve the city’s communities through education. education, real estate and other areas.
The pair were acquitted last week of charges accusing them of bribing Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and his wife, Dawn Chavous, who were themselves acquitted of honest services wire fraud charges in connection with the non-profit organization.
But Islam and Dawan still faces separate racketeering, wire and honest services fraud conspiracy charges in connection with the nonprofit’s alleged embezzlement of nearly $500,000 through inflated salaries, bonuses and unauthorized spending and alleged bribery of a Wisconsin official in support of charter school expansion in Milwaukee.
Both men have denied wrongdoing and a defense lawyer claimed last week that they had fully earned their six-figure salaries. Prosecutors did not immediately say whether they would seek a new trial.