Thursday, Dec 14, 2017
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New trial sought after juror reveals he knew defendant's history

BOWLING GREEN — A juror selected for the Feb. 27 trial of John F. Schulte told a Wood County judge Tuesday he didn’t raise his hand when prospective jurors were asked whether they knew the accused even though he knew some things about the man.

“Personally, I don’t know him,” the juror said, though he conceded he knew that Schulte “had legal problems” in the past and said he’d played softball against him “36 or 37 years ago in a church league.”

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Schulte

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The juror was ordered to appear in Wood County Common Pleas Court after prosecutors informed the court the juror had asked them, after verdicts were announced, why they didn’t get into Schulte’s criminal history during his trial on three counts of unlawful pawnbroking. Defense attorney Larry DiLabbio then filed a motion for a new trial based on the alleged juror misconduct.

Judge Matthew Reger asked the juror whether he had shared what he knew about Schulte with his fellow jurors or whether that knowledge clouded his opinion of Schulte’s guilt or innocence. He said it had not.

The jury found Schulte, 61, of Luckey, guilty of one count of running an unlicensed pawn shop, a fifth-degree felony, but acquitted him of the other two counts. A former investment counselor who once employed convicted financier Marty Frankel, Schulte has served time in state prison for stalking and in federal prison for mail fraud and income-tax evasion — information that could not be and was not presented at trial.

The juror told the court he did not ask Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Matuszak why Schulte’s criminal history did not come into play until after Mr. Matuszak had told him about Schulte’s prior felony convictions. Still, at Tuesday’s hearing, both Mr. Matuszak and Channa Beard, another assistant prosecutor, testified the juror was the first to broach the topic and also told them he’d had business dealings with Schulte.

Judge Reger asked both sides to file briefs in the case. He vacated Schulte’s April 28 sentencing date and set the matter for a pretrial or possible sentencing hearing May 19.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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