Jurors in U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah's federal corruption trial were instructed to start over in their deliberations on Friday after one member of the panel was dismissed.
U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III offered no explanation for the dismissal after calling the jury back into the courtroom around 10 a.m. An alternate had replaced the missing member.
Lawyers for the congressman and his codefendants declined to comment, saying that Bartle had instructed them not to discuss the matter.
The former juror was seen leaving the courthouse Friday morning, escorted by security officials.
He is the fourth juror to leave the panel since the trial began last month - all for reasons that have remained undisclosed or kept under court seal.
Two were dismissed in the opening days of the trial. A third left Wednesday just before deliberations began.
During his brief comments Friday morning to the newly reconstituted jury - now composed of nine women and three men - Bartle urged the panel to continue its discussions in good faith.
He reread several points from his jury instructions focused on the importance of the deliberations being rooted in the law.
He also cited portions instructing jurors to remain open to discussing the case with each other, but warned them not to feel that they should change their individual decisions based on the will of others on the panel.
"The important point is to reach the just verdict," Bartle said before sending them off to start their discussions anew. "There is no specific time frame. Take all the time you need to reach a just verdict."
Afterward, the panel quietly deliberated for about five hours before being released for the day. Jurors are expected to resume discussions Monday.
Fattah, 59, is accused of accepting bribes and misappropriating campaign contributions, charitable donations, and federal grant funds under his control to pay off his personal and political debts.
He and four political allies face counts including racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, and fraud.