Essex County man charged with jury tampering

An Essex County resident who was arrested following a domestic incident last weekend has been charged with attempting to influence the outcome of a jury trial in Union County earlier this year, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Thursday.

Mikel Richardson, 32, of Newark is charged with a single count of third-degree jury tampering.

An investigation involving the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit and the Union County Sheriff’s Office Warrant Squad revealed that on March 9, 2016, Richardson allegedly approached a juror at the Union County Courthouse Complex and asked for their thoughts about a case that was in the jury deliberation phase at the time.

Richardson then allegedly indicated to the juror that he had “compensation” available if the juror were to vote for acquittal of the defendant, Antonio Santos, according to the investigation. The juror was subsequently excused from the case, and Santos was found guilty of charges including aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and eluding police.

The jury tampering charge was filed against Richardson in late April, after which members of the Prosecutor’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, the Newark Police Department, the Teaneck Police Department, and the Englewood Police Department launched a comprehensive search for him.  On Sunday, June 26, 2016, members of the Teaneck Police Department responding to a report of a domestic dispute arrested Richardson on charges of simple assault and hindering apprehension.

Richardson was transferred to Union County Jail earlier this week and held on $35,000 bail.   

Convictions on third-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by 3 to 5 years in state prison.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.