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Convicted drugstore embezzler now accused of jury tampering

Michael I. Monus, already serving a 20-year term for embezzling from the Phar-Mor Inc. drugstore chain he founded, has been indicted on a jury tampering charge.

A federal grand jury indicted Monus, 49, on one count of obstruction of justice Tuesday for allegedly trying to influence a member of the jury that deadlocked on all charges at his first trial in June 1994.He was convicted at his second trial, in 1995, of embezzling millions of dollars from the discount drugstore chain, based in Youngstown, Ohio, and luring more than $1 billion from investors with phony financial statements.

The chain closed hundreds of stores, cut thousands of jobs and sought bankruptcy court protection, emerging later in 1995.

Monus allegedly tried to influence juror Cheryl McRae. She has pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of court for considering information not presented at the trial and for basing her vote to acquit on outside information.

Raymond Isaac, whose girlfriend worked with McRae, has pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and said he was the contact between Monus and McRae. He agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

Isaac's plea agreement said Monus instructed him to offer McRae money and give her information that was not presented at the trial.

If convicted, Monus could face three more years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Peter D. Goldberger, who handled the appeal of Monus' 1995 conviction, said he was unaware of the indictment and said he thought Monus was innocent.