Williston man arrested in jury tampering

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

A Williston man who tried to persuade a juror to vote not guilty for his friend on trial for drug charges is now sitting in the Levy County jail under a $250,000 bond.
Robert Earl Patterson, 38, was arrested on Oct. 27 and charged with tampering with a juror after the juror told deputies Patterson came to her home and left his cell phone number for her to call. When the juror's mother called the phone number Patterson asked that the juror vote not guilty in the trial of Hermie McClendon and offered to buy her dinner and pay her.
In a statement to Levy Sheriff's Office investigators Patterson said his childhood pal McClendon had called him with the juror's name and said she lived in Williston. Patterson told deputies McClendon asked if he knew the woman and could he talk to her.
"He said McClendon told him he was looking at 20 years in prison if he was convicted," according to the arrest report.
When he located the juror's residence on Oct. 24, Patterson spoke to her brother who said the juror was not at home and left his phone number. He said when he was contacted, he offered her dinner and money.
"Earl said he felt good about his conversation with (the juror) and he called his cousin McClendon. He said he told McClendon "might look good,"  "but I don't know," Earl said McClendon told him he would “be praying."
Patterson told the deputies McClendon called him the next day to tell him court officials knew Patterson had contacted the juror. McClendon's trial is recessed until Nov. 17.
Patterson faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.