Defendant attempted to bribe juror in Montgomery County drug case, officials say

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FONDA – A Schoharie man has been arrested, accused of attempting to bribe a juror in an ongoing drug trial against him, according to the New York State Police and Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.

Michael Bell, 37, of Schoharie, was arrested Wednesday and charged with one count of bribing a juror, a felony, police said.

The investigation began Wednesday morning as troopers received information that a defendant in an ongoing trial tampered with a juror on that trial, police said.

Bell is accused of approaching the juror in a public location in the town of Amsterdam and offering the juror money in order to influence their decision, police said.

The juror refused Bell and was dismissed from the trial, police said.

In the underlying case, Bell was standing  trial on multiple drug charges when he alleged that a juror had propositioned him to vote in his favor in return for $10,000, Montgomery County District Attorney Lorraine Diamond said in a release.

The investigation, though, determined Bell had sought assistance from the juror and Bell was charged, Diamond said.

Bell ultimately pleaded guilty in the drug case, which stemmed from an investigation by the Amsterdam Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

Bell has two prior violent felony convictions, as well as a felony conviction for third-degree criminal sexual act and is a Level 2 sex offender, Diamond said.

Bell was taken into custody at the Montgomery County Court. He was arraigned on the juror-related charge and ordered held without bail.

By Steven Cook

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