Jurors in the federal extortion trial of former Philadelphia police Inspector Daniel Castro apparently are having trouble reaching a verdict.
On Tuesday, at the end of their first full day of deliberations, the jurors gave Judge Harvey Bartle a note saying several were "steadfast" in their opinions on several counts and asked Bartle how long they should continue to try to reach a decision.
Bartle asked the jurors to return Wednesday and keep deliberating. He also asked that they not hesitate to reexamine their views and to let him know at the end of the day whether they still could not reach a verdict.
"Take whatever time you need," he said.
Castro, 47, is on trial on charges that he schemed to shake down former business partner Wilson Encarnacion, who owed him $90,000. Federal prosecutors indicted him on allegations that he hired strong-arm collectors to take the money from Encarnacion by using threats and violence.
The plan never went forward because Castro set it up with a man who was secretly an FBI informant. That man, Rony Moshe, recorded numerous conversations between the pair in which they discussed the visits being made to Encarnacion by the "collectors."
Castro, federal prosecutors allege, believed that the extortion took place and accepted several cash payments from Moshe after he was told that Encarnacion had been threatened or "roughed up."
Castro's attorney, Brian McMonagle, has described Castro as a "good citizen" who was entrapped by Moshe into committing the crimes. In the trial, which began April 11, he argued that Moshe preyed on Castro in a time of weakness and that he induced Castro to go forward with the extortion plan.
Castro is believed to be the highest-ranking Philadelphia police officer to be criminally charged in several decades. If convicted, he could face more than 50 years in prison.