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Transcript: Jurors in ex-governor’s trial received anonymous threats

October 16, 1997

PHOENIX (AP) _ Jurors in former Gov. Fife Symington’s fraud trial received anonymous threatening phone calls during deliberations, according to court transcripts unsealed Wednesday.

One juror said at the time she believed the caller was Symington’s chief defense attorney, John Dowd.

Dowd denied the accusation. ``I did not make any phone calls to anybody,″ he said.

Dowd also said that on the night the juror got the call, he was dining with a Symington aide and others when the aide received a similar call.

The transcripts released Wednesday cover a closed-door meeting that U.S. District Judge Roger Strand held with attorneys on Aug. 22 to discuss what he described at the time only as a ``security matter.″

Symington was convicted Sept. 3 of seven counts of bank fraud relating to his former career as a real estate developer and was forced to resign as governor. He is to be sentenced Feb. 2.

According to the transcripts and newly unsealed police reports, juror Janice Pettes received an anonymous call at her home around 8:14 p.m. on Aug. 21 from a man who she said sounded like Dowd and was calling from a pay phone. The man called her by her first name and said she would get $10,000 if Symington was convicted but would be killed if he was acquitted.

Pettes ``said when she received the phone call, she immediately thought it was Mr. Dowd,″ police Detective Thomas Herrgott told the judge and lawyers the next morning. ``But then people were saying, `Oh, it can’t be.′ And so, she feels like, well, maybe it couldn’t be. But at the time, she was positive.″

A second juror, Charlotte Hartle, said she received a similar call around the same time from a man with a ``deep, harsh voice″ who started to offer her $10,000. She said she did not recognize the caller’s voice, thought it was a prank and hung up on him.

Dowd said Symington’s executive secretary, Carol Henderson, was holding a dinner for him and two other defense team members when she received a similar call around 8:30 p.m. The caller had ``a gravelly voice″ and said something like ``It’s either if Symington goes down you get 10, if he goes free, you die.″

None of the jurors’ names were public during the trial, but their faces were often on television or in newspaper photos and some reported seeing people write down their license plate numbers.

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