Jury begins deliberations in trial of Philadelphia councilman, wife

If convicted, Kenyatta Johnson and his wife face up to 40 years in prison.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson and his wife Dawn Chavous are a step closer to learning their fate.

A jury of nine men and three women began deliberating Wednesday in the bribery trial of the South Philadelphia couple.

Federal prosecutors allege Johnson, a three-term councilmember, and his wife were offered $66,000 in bribes disguised as consulting work for Chavous.

On Wednesday, the judge spent close to an hour and a half charging the jury with the instructions.

Jurors will weigh whether the defendant knowingly devised a scheme or was willing to participate in a plan to defraud residents.

Neither Johnson or his wife took the stand in their own defense, something that US District Judge Gerald A. McHugh says the jury should not take into consideration while deciding a verdict.

"I'm hoping everyone gets acquitted," said Ryan Taylor.

Johnson's supporters, who've packed the courtroom the last several weeks, remained cautiously optimistic.

"I don't really think that the prosecution brought enough evidence," said Al Custus, of Ralph Brooks Baseball league and a friend of Johnson's.

"I'm hopeful that things might turn out right for him. I pray they do," said Sylvia Bennet.

The jury will report for day two of deliberations at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

The jury must decide unanimously on guilt or innocence.

If convicted, Johnson and his wife face up to 40 years in prison.
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