Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Kariem McCline was found guilty of offering a false instrument for filing, a felony. The guilty verdict came, as two jurors expressed concern.
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO May 21, 2013 With two jurors alleging “pressure” from other jurors in the deliberation room, on Friday 12 of Kariem McCline peers came back with a guilty verdict on a felony count of offering a false instrument for filing.
McCline, a local businessman, was part of a larger alleged Village of Monticello corruption case that centered around Trustee TC Hutchins and former Village Manager John LiGreci’s failed attempt to allegedly assert their influence to secure McCline Hutchins’ friend a position with the Village of Monticello Police Department.
LiGreci would accept a plea deal in the case; coping to three misdemeanor charges just before the trial was set to begin in exchange for his cooperation in the case. LiGreci is expected receive three years probation with no jail time upon sentencing.
A motion for mistrial the day following LiGreci’s deal by Hutchins’ attorney, William T. Martin, stemming from the adverse effect the LiGreci deal would have on the defense’s strategy, and based on the fact that LiGreci’s attorney had a part in choosing the jury, was subsequently granted by Sullivan County Court Judge Frank LaBuda.
McCline’s charges were based on allegations that he lied on a county civil service application, when in 2011 he failed to fill out the page in the application packet that asked for the disclosure of prior arrests, youthful offender statuses and if he’d ever been detained as a juvenile.
McCline, a single father of three and owner of a local cleaning service, failed to disclose two arrests one when he was 14-years old, and the second at age 18 - on the application page which solicited such information; initially leaving the page completely blank.
It was alleged during trial that McCline was offered a second opportunity to disclose these prior arrests one for selling crack cocaine to an undercover officer when he was 14 when a now retired village police detective who was charged with McCline’s background check had a meeting with McCline at Monticello police headquarters. McCline only offered up one of the prior arrests to the detective during that encounter according to testimony.
Furthermore, McCline still faces trial on four other pending felony charges and is additionally accused of hiding his youthful offender status from a judge for purposes of obtaining a pistol permit.
Shortly after the verdict was read to the court, two female jurors asked to speak with the Judge LaBuda.
The two jurors reportedly spoke with a reporter expressing that they “regretted” their decision to convict McCline. The jurors who declined to offer their names were quoted as saying, “There was so much arguing in the jury room… I was feeling a lot of pressure with the decision.”
The second juror reportedly expressed that she felt that she did not feel that McCline was guilty of a crime.
In an interview with the Democrat, Sullivan County District Attorney Jim Farrell said of the situation, “In my opinion I don’t believe [the issues with the two female jurors] will affect the verdict at all. I suspect that the defense will bring a motion, but the law is very clear that a juror cannot impeach their verdict… It’s a pretty high standard to meet that threshold as far as overturning a verdict.”
McCline faces a maximum of 11⁄3 to 4-years in prison, but could also be fined and assigned to the Sullivan County Probation Department for an unknown period of time.
Sentencing is set for August 8.