Jury selection began Wednesday in the trial of former Miss America Bess Myerson, charged with trying to use her city job to influence a judge who was handling her divorce case.
U.S. District Judge John Keenan began questioning the first prospective juror at about 10:45 a.m. following a conference with lawyers. Jury selection in the case is expected to take at least a week.Myerson, 64, is accused of using her job as the city's cultural affairs commissioner to help her boyfriend, a city contractor, by giving a job to the daughter of a judge who was handling his divorce case.
Myerson resigned in April 1987 in the midst of the scandal. She is charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, obstruction of justice and using interstate facilities to break state bribery laws. She faces up to 30 years in prison and $513,000 in fines if convicted.
Also on trial are Myerson's boyfriend, Carl "Andy" Capasso, and former state Supreme Court Judge Hortense Gabel, who each face up to 25 years in prison and $263,000 in fines. Capasso, 42, is serving four years in prison for tax evasion in an unrelated case, and Gabel, 75, resigned her $82,000-a-year job in July 1987.
Myerson, the daughter of a Jewish house painter from the Bronx who became a living symbol of achievement and ethnic pride, maintains she did nothing wrong and has vowed to avenge herself in court.
After her victory at Atlantic City in 1945, the brunette became successful in television and in municipal government.