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Giving readers an unvarnished, uncensored, insider's view of the biggest courtroom dramas.

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    Newsweek discloses that another psychiatrist doesn't believe Billy Doe is telling the truth. Meanwhile, Bernard Shero hires a new lawyer to get him out of jail. And Msgr. William J. Lynn decides he'd rather stay in jail than take a plea bargain from the D.A.

    Story can be read here.

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  • 03/12/16--07:46: The Roundup
  • Edward A. Kirby (left) and Edward R. Kirby (right)
    A weekly tab of what's
    going on in the courts.

    By Shealyn Kilroy


    Philadelphia District Attorney: 
    Father and son duo Edward R. Kirby, 59, and Edward A. Kirby, 34, are being charged for the death of Edward R.’s brother George Kirby, 66, after a Grand Jury investigation, the District Attorney’s office announced on March 10. George, who had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and was on an oxygen tank 24 hours a day, was being taken care of by his 84-year-old aunt at his home in Frankford. Edward R. had a history drug abuse. Edward A. fraudulently obtained ten life insurance policies as George so he could collect more than $100,000 in benefits. After a phone call with his uncle that he thought he ended, George’s son Nicholas Kirby overheard a conversation between his cousin and uncle about plans to kill his father:

    “Go down there and kill him. Make it look like an accident. Just put a pillow over him and smother him,” said Edward A.

    “It’s not that easy,” responded Edward R.

    “I don’t care what you do, just take care of it. He’s your brother, you do it. The quicker you do this, the quicker we can get the money,” said Edward A.

    Alarmed, Nicholas called Officer McNicholas, a Philadelphia Police Officer friend. About a month later, Edward R. delivered a bottle containing fifty methadone pills to George’s residence. George died of methadone intoxication. Nicholas knew Edward R. was a drug addict and took methadone. Again, Nicholas called Officer McNicholas and requested that a homicide investigation be opened. The duo will appear next in court for a preliminary hearing.
    Milton Garcia
    Rittenhouse Square rapist Milton Garcia, 28, was sentenced to 22 to 44 years in state prison on March 7, according  to the District Attorney’s office. Around 1 a.m. on June 21, 2014, the 26-year-old victim, a female Penn doctor, was walking back to her apartment in the on the 1900 block of Spruce St. Garcia grabbed her from behind, forced her into her own apartment and then sexually assaulted her. After Garcia left, he returned, taking her apartment keys and cell phone. The victim activated an old cell phone and dialed 911. The next day, detectives tracked her phone to Garcia’s residence in South Philadelphia. Facing Garcia, the victim appeared in court and gave “emotional” testimony, according to the District Attorney office.

    U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania:
    Michael Anthony Nohl, 20, of Montgomery County admitted to threatening a law enforcement officer and the agent’s family on March 9, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. On Dec. 22, 2014, Nohl, of Oaks, called and threatened to kill the officer and kidnap and murder the the officer’s wife and daughter. Nohl also threatened the fed with an explosive device. Nohl’s sentencing is scheduled for June 9 and could face 15 years in prison, a possible fine, up to three-years of supervised release and a $200 special assessment.

    The U.S. Attorney’s office describes these charges as coming from a “swatting” incident. “The term “swatting” is generally defined as the act of deceiving an emergency service, such as 911 or other emergency services dispatcher, into dispatching emergency response units, including police SWAT teams, fire departments and medical personnel, based on the false report of an ongoing critical incident,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. However, the release does not say that Nohl claimed there was an emergency or that any emergency service was dispatched. describes swatting as a “hoax 911 call to draw a response from law enforcement.” The only response Nohl seemed to have received was a court case. The release also does not mention that Nohl knew the officer personally.

    New Jersey Attorney General:

    Rafael Vasquez, 27, of Passaic, N.J., pleaded guilty on March 9 for attempted murder for shooting and wounding an undercover cop during an attempted armed robbery, announced the Attorney General’s office. 

    The undercover cop for the narcotics task force planned to buy marijuana from Vasquez outside of a Marshall’s in Garfield on April 22, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. Vasquez along with Melvin Guzman, 21, and Patrick Morel, 23, who were indicted and pleaded guilty, planned to rob the officer, bringing a handgun and a bag of oregano, instead of marijuana.

     Guzman got into the officer’s passenger seat and Vasquez approached the window of the car displaying a handgun and ordering him to give him the money. Vasquez and the officer got into a struggle that resulted in the officer getting shot in the hip and ankle. When the rest of the task force arrived, Vasquez pointed his gun at the officers, and two officers shot Vasquez, wounding him in the left shoulder, ear, and hip.

    Under his plea agreement, Vasquez may see 15 years in state prison and nearly 13 years of parole ineligibility for the attempted murder charge. In addition, the state is recommending a concurrent sentence of 10 years in state prison with five years of parole ineligibility on the gun charge. Vasquez is scheduled to be sentenced on April 20.

    Shealyn can be reached at 

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    Courtesy of
    By Shealyn Kilroy

    Kathryn Knott's gay bashing may have created a ripple effect throughout the city, but this morning, her sentence still remained.

    Judge Roxanne Covington denied a motion for Knott to receive a lighter sentence than the 5 to 10 months she originally got for her role in the Sept. 2014 beating of a gay couple in Center City.

    "As injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, hatred toward any group is no different than hatred toward all of us," Covington said at the conclusion of court with her soft voice. "Every single one of us has a right to be who we are, to love who we want and to walk down the street and enjoy the city safely, without fear of ridicule, of torture, of attack."

    Knott was convicted of simple assault, reckless endangerment, conspiracy and other related charges on Feb. 8. She was acquitted of any felonies. Co-defendants Kevin Harrigan and Philip Williams took plea bargins, which includes doing community service at a LGBTQ organization. 

    lliam J. Brennan, Knott's attorney, asked Covington to consider something less than incarceration - like house arrest at her home in Fox Chase or a public service announcement.

    Since being at Riverside Correctional Facility for two months, Brennan said that Knott is well into anger management and is spending her time cleaning bathrooms, toilets and showers. Also, Brennan said that Knott is following prison guidelines.

    Brennan said it would be disrespectful for him to ignore "the community" that Knott affected. Covington disagreed - saying this was a case that did not just affect a community, but the city as a whole. Her argument was supported on social media.  There wouldn't be a Facebook event page to attend the hearing this morning if Knott's actions didn't cause a stir.

    Brennan pointed out that two of Knott's fellow gay bashers received no time in prison. The defense lawyer begged Covington to let Knott no longer be a face of hate but to do something provocative to make amends.

    "Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer, and he said, 'Mercy bears richer fruit than justice serves,'" Brennan said. "Knott has to do something that reaches out to the community, an opportunity to heal the wounds."

    But the prosecutor disagreed.

    "Nothing new has happened," stated Assistant District Attorney Allison Ruth.

    Ruth garbled her speech to demonstrate how Zachary Haught, one of the victims, spoke with his mouth wired shut for 8 weeks. Also, serving her time and cleaning toilets isn't anything Knott should get credit for, Ruth said.  As for Brennan's suggestion of doing a public service announcement, Ruth stated that idea was  both offensive and ridiculous.

    Both Ruth and Covington noted Knott's flaky sense of remorse during her testimony.

    "Knott showed complete disconnection," Covington said. "She had no comprehension of the offensiveness in her commentary on her tweets."

    Knott still has time to appeal, but as for now, back to Riverside she goes.

    Shealyn can be reached at 

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    By Ralph Cipriano

    He shaved his wispy beard.

    He wore a suit and tie.

    And he was pretty damn forgetful.

    During a deposition in his civil case against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as first disclosed on, Daniel Gallagher, AKA Billy Doe, the amazingly rape-prone altar boy, claimed he couldn't remember more than 130 times.

    Gallagher's two full days of depositions were conducted on May 30, 2014, and June 20, 2014. The event was attended by a dozen lawyers and a videographer. The official transcript ran 572 pages, and, thanks to a deal between the archdiocese and Billy's lawyers, it was supposed to remain secret. The transcript has "Confidential" stamped on the top of every page.

    One witness at the confidential deposition said it was obvious to everybody in the room that Gallagher was "a professional liar." Another witness went a step further, describing the plaintiff as "a fucking liar." But it didn't hurt Gallagher on his way to the bank. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput settled the case last August, a month before the Pope came to town, by paying Gallagher $5 million. Oh, they didn't want that disclosed either.

    That's quite a payday for a guy who testified that he makes $11 an hour working for his grandfather's landscaping business down in Florida. At his deposition, Gallagher stated he put in "anywhere from 50 to 60 hours a week" working for Grandpop, earning "between 500 and $600 a week," or $20,000 a year.

    The deposition began with Nick Centrella, the lawyer for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, asking the questions.

    Centrella asked Gallagher if he recalled reading an article by this writer that discussed Gallagher's medical records and the many false claims that Gallagher had made over the years to his many doctors and drug counselors about allegations of sex abuse.

    "Yes, I do," Gallagher said.

    "And do you remember seeing in there that -- at least he claimed that your medical records said that you had told medical providers that you had been abused by a friend at one point, a neighbor at one point," Centrella asked.

    "I don't remember everything he wrote," Gallagher testified. "I don't try to pay attention to what he writes."

    "Ok," Centrella said. "Regardless of when you knew it, is it -- would you agree with me that -- have you ever tried to contact him and say it's inaccurate?"

    "No," Gallagher said.

    There you have it folks, a personal endorsement under oath from Danny Gallagher. I've written many stories about Gallagher/Billy Doe over the years. And not once has he or his lawyers ever called or written, to ask for a correction.

    Although they did send over a subpoena, trying to figure out where all those confidential records came from. But that little fishing expedition didn't go anywhere, thanks to Pennsylvania's Shield Law that prevents a reporter from having to name his sources.

    At his deposition, as first disclosed in Newsweek, Gallagher stated he didn't remember claiming he'd been: sexually abused by a friend at 6; sexually abused by a neighbor at 6; sexually abused by a teacher at age 7; sexually molested at 6 or 8 by an unknown assailant; and sexually abused at 9 by a 14-year-old boy.

    He did admit, however, under oath, that all of those previous accusations recorded by his doctors and drug counselors on medical records subpoenaed from some 28 different hospitals, drug clinics and doctors' offices weren't true, and never happened.

    "Is it fair to say you never recall telling somebody that you were abused by a  friend, correct?" Centrella asked.

    "Right," Gallagher said.

    "All right. So you -- you don't remember ever saying that, do you?"

    "No," Gallagher said.

    "However, if we see such things in your medical records, and this is  one example of them, do you have any explanation for how those things wound up in your medical records?"

    "They could have written it down wrong," Gallagher replied. "I don't know . . ."

    "Do you know if you told them this?"

    "I honestly don't remember," Gallagher said.

    "Ok, were you were you ever sexually assaulted by a friend?"

    "No," Gallagher said.

    ". . . OK, Do you remember ever telling anybody that you were assaulted at the age of 9 by someone who was 14 years old?"

    "No," Gallagher said.

    "Ok, did that ever happen?"

    "No, it did not," Gallagher said.

    "And again, you don't remember ever specifically lying to Northeast Treatment Center about your manner of abuse, do you?" Centrella asked.

    "Not that I can remember," Gallagher said. "Not that I can recall. At that point in my life, I was high on drugs."

    Gallagher also couldn't remember giving a lengthy statement to Louise Hagner, a social worker for the archdiocese, where he claimed he was: anally raped in the church sacristy for five hours by Father Engelhardt; beaten and knocked unconscious by Father Avery; tied up naked by Father Avery with altar sashes; and forced by Father Avery to suck blood off the priest's penis.

    "Have you ever met Miss Hagner?" Centrella asked.

    "Not that I can recall, no," Gallagher said.

    At his deposition, Gallagher stated he also couldn't remember what he told the cops.

    "In the notes of Detective [Drew] Snyder, he records that 'The fourth encounter . . occurs around July,'" Centrella said, reading from the records. "'Danny is serving a funeral mass with Father [Edward] Avery.' Do you recall ever telling any detectives, Detective Snyder in particular, at the District Attorney's office . .. that one of the encounters with Father Avery was after a funeral Mass?"

    The problem here was that the church kept a register of funeral Masses. And the register showed that during the year Gallagher claimed to have been raped as a 10-year-old fifth grader at St. Jerome's after a funeral Mass, that Avery had never officiated at a funeral Mass the entire year.

    "I might have," Gallagher said. " I can't say for sure. I don't really know."

    "Ok," Centrella said, "Well, was it at a funeral mass?"

    "No, it was not," Gallagher said.

    "Was there any point in time at which you thought it was a funeral Mass?"

    "I can't really be sure," Gallagher said. "I don't know."

    At his deposition, Gallagher was also asked about a bunch of other stories that he told his doctors and drug counselors.

    Thomas Hurd, a lawyer who represented the estate of the late Father Charles Engelhardt, asked Gallager about a line on a mental status exam that stated Gallagher's weight as 148 pounds.

    "There is a notation here in the chart that he [Gallagher] had weighed 220 pounds," Hurd said. Then he asked disbelievingly, "Did you ever weigh 220 pounds?"

    "I don't know if I ever got that high up," Gallagher replied. "But when I was in jail, I did gain a lot of weight, and I lost it as soon as I came out."

    "Let's go down to the social history," Hurd said. "It says, 'He did work for three-and-a-half years as a paramedic with the private ambulance company.' Is that true?"

    "Not entirely, no," Gallagher said.

    "Well, you never were a paramedic, right?"

    "No," Gallagher said.

    "And you never worked for any ambulance company for more than a couple months, is that correct?"

    "That is correct," Gallagher said.

    In the medical records of another clinic, it stated, "Patient was a paramedic and professional surfer before having to stop working due to addiction."

    "Did you give them that history," Hurd asked.

    "I might have," Gallagher said. "I don't really remember."

    Gallagher told the lawyer he was an EMT.

    "Ok," Hurd said. "You didn't tell them you were a paramedic, did you?"

    "Not that I remember, no."

    Did you tell them you were a professional surfer?"

    "Not that I remember."

    "Were you a professional surfer?"

    Gallagher responded by claiming that he was sponsored as a professional surfer by some local surf shops down at the Jersey shore "when I was younger," but surprisingly, he couldn't remember the names of any of those surf shops.

    "Did you ever earn any income as a surfer?"

    "Not really, no."

    "Did you have to stop surfing because of your addiction?"

    "I -- hmm, honestly, I really don't know," Gallagher said. "My addiction kind of put a damper on my surfing."


    "Because I was too busy wanting to get high rather than surf."

    Maybe all that lying can be catchy.

    At his 2014 deposition, Gallagher was asked about whether he had ever taken a polygraph test before.  It was something that his lawyer would claim a year later in an interview with the Legal Intelligencer, a polygraph test that Gallagher supposedly passed, according to his lawyer, with "flying colors."

    "Mr. Gallagher, have you ever taken a lie detector test about your allegations?"Hurd asked.

    "No," Gallagher replied.

    "Have you ever been asked to take one?"

    "No, I have not," Gallagher said.

    So, listen up, all of you convicts out there sitting in jail. It doesn't matter if you've got a long rap sheet for drug dealing and/or any other crimes. Here's how to get out of jail and make millions of dollars.

    Especially if the state legislature listens to the wisdom of The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial page, and does away with the statute of limitations for sex abuse victims.

    Tell your lawyer you just remembered you were raped by a Catholic priest a couple of decades ago. Or better yet, you were raped by a bunch of Catholic priests.

    As Danny Gallagher has proven, it really doesn't matter how ridiculous your story is. Or whether you get all your facts straight the first, second, third or even fourth time around.

    When it comes to putting Catholic priests in jail, our District Attorney, Seth Williams, has proven he will run with any old crazy story. And our archbishop, Checkbook Charlie, is ready to roll over too, even if it means throwing his own guys under the bus.

    Once you hoist the flag of victimhood, the lunatics from SNAP will rally behind you. On this blog, even though they've never met you, and you may be a total freaking liar, goofballs like Dennis Ecker and Jim Robertson will back you up in the comments section with plenty of support. The Philadelphia Inquirer, a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, can also be counted on to write news stories and editorials on your behalf, without ever questioning your veracity.

    Just think. Instead of being a junkie criminal loser, you too, can become a rich and famous victim like Danny Gallagher.

    And if you get as far as a deposition in your civil case, just remember what to say whenever one of those smart-ass defense lawyers tries to trip you up on your way to the bank.

    Be like Danny:

    "I don't remember."

    "I really don't remember."

    "I honestly don't remember."

    Ralph Cipriano can be reached at

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  • 03/19/16--09:30: The Roundup
  • A weekly tab of what's
    going on in the courts.

    By Shealyn Kilroy

    Philadelphia District Attorney:

    Joyce Levitt
    Joyce Levitt is charged with theft, fraud, and related charges for embezzled $200,000 from Visit Philadelphia after she turned herself in on March 16, the District Attorney’s office announced. Levitt, 61, had been overseeing the finances for seven years of Chief Financial Officer of Visit Philadelphia, a tourism agency that promotes travel in and around the city. VP receives 18 percent of hotel tax, so Levitt stole taxpayer dollars. Philadelphia taxpayers, want to know where your money was going? You were funding Levitt’s skin treatments, quenching her palette at high-end restaurant meals, taking her shopping at BJ’s and Costco and keeping her warm with fur from New York. The investigation began in August 2014. A date for a preliminary hearing not yet been scheduled.

    Juan Reyes claimed the 36 birds in his possession are his pets.
    Juan Reyes / NBC Philadelphia
    Reyes, charged with cruelty to animals, was scheduled for preliminary hearing on March 16, according to the District Attorney’s office. Reyes, 31, was arrested on March 2 in connection with this charge. However, Reyes was one of  thirteen defendants who pleaded guilty for a role in a cockfighting match in Feltonville in 2009. Reyes and the other defendants received five years probation were forced to pay $500 to the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
    Darryl Cathey
    Philadelphia Police Officer Darryl Cathey was scheduled for trial on March 14, according to the District Attorney’s office. This is the second time Cathey, 26, has been in trouble with the cops during his six years with the force. Cathey is in court now because he’s charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, DUI and other offenses. Cathey was driving a marked police car with three flat tires at 12:30 a.m. on March 28, 2015.
     According to, a supervisor talked to Cathey and smelled alcohol on his breath. When the police were bringing Cathey into custody, he allegedly assaulted one of the officers. The first time Cathey got into trouble while on the force was in 2011. Cathey was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend, but prosecutors withdrew the charges after Cathey failed to show up in court four times. has a list from 2014 of cops who were charged with abuse only for the charges to disappear.
    U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania:
    Daniel Sheehan /
    Two friends were charged in a scheme to steal money from worried homeowners on March 18, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
    Daniel Sheehan, 41, of Gloucester City, NJ, and John Hoban, 42, of Bellmawr, NJ, allegedly promised over 110 homeowners that they would aid them in their mortgages for amounts up to $400,000. Between September 2012 and February 2015, Sheehan, a mortgage modifying professional,  allegedly gave clients a new mortgage until their loan paperwork arrived. Hoban, allegedly acting as a bank representative, would deceive clients by telling them that everything was going smoothly on the bank’s end. Sheehan allegedly never filed the paperwork, and then stole the new mortgage payments for his own benefit. 

    One victim of the scheme was receiving foreclosure notices. Sheehan allegedly told the victim that she could get aid with a new representative in a new mortgage. Hoban allegedly came in to play at this point,  posing as that  bank representative and  convincing the homeowner that the foreclosure notice would be “frozen” and that she would receive a packet from the new bank in 30 days.  No paperwork, however, had ever been filed to help the homeowner.
    “This type of mortgage fraud is very personal.” said U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger in the press release. “The defendants cheated their homeowner victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by preying on their emotional and financial vulnerabilities.”

    The pair is charged with wire fraud conspiracy and eight counts of wire fraud.  Sheehan is additionally charged with 18 wire fraud counts and one count of interstate transport of stolen property. The two could each  spend 20 years in prison for these charges if found guilty.
    Riverside Correctional Facility /
    Former prison guard Joseph Romano was sentenced on March 14 to 30 months for smuggling contraband into prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

    Romano, 31, was charged with attempted extortion which interfered with interstate commerce and two counts of attempted distribution of controlled substances. The prison guard worked at Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center and Riverside Correctional Facility. In exchange for $1,000, Romano agreed to meet with the prisoner’s dealer to pick up and deliver OxyContin to the prisoner. Romano met with the dealer in multiple locations in Philadelphia, received the drugs and cash, and then smuggled it passed prison security to give to the inmate. In addition to the prison sentence, the judge ordered a $1,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and a $200 special assessment.
    U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey:
    Former music school teacher Cliff Ramsay pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography on March 16, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Ramsay, 30, of Raritan worked at Readington Middle School on during the time he was accessing child pornography. On Feb. 25, 2015, and Feb. 27, 2015, Ramsay visited a child pornography website. A search warrant was executed on his home on July 28, 2015, and authorities found child pornography on his computer. Ramsay could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 6, 2016. Shealyn can be reached at

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    By Ralph Cipriano

    It was supposed to be a sober exchange of appeal briefs. But the battle now before the state Supreme Court over the fate of Msgr. William J. Lynn has turned into a legal brawl.

    Lynn is the former secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, who was convicted in 2012 on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, namely Danny Gallagher, the "lying, scheming" former altar boy also known as "Billy Doe."

    In December, the state Superior Court, for the second time in three years, overturned Lynn's conviction, and ordered a new trial. Lynn, serving a three  to six year prison term, has remained in jail, pending an appeal by District Attorney Seth Williams to the state Supreme Court.

    The first time the state Superior Court reversed Lynn's sentence, in December 2013, the D.A. appealed to the state Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Lynn got out jail on house arrest. In April 2015, the state Supreme Court ruled in the D.A.'s favor, and Lynn was sent back to jail, where he remains. So the D.A. is hoping that lighting strikes twice.

    But Thomas A. Bergstrom and David A. Schumacher, Lynn's lawyers, have broken out the brass knuckles. In a 15-page appeal brief filed today, the defense lawyers stated that the D.A.'s appeal brief to the state Supreme Court contains "statements and allegations that are breathtakingly dishonest." Also, the "level of unprofessionalism" exhibited by the D.A.'s petition is so "alarming" that it appears the only objective is to "drive this [Supreme] Court to a decision grounded in emotion," the defense lawyers wrote.

    Last December, the Superior Court judges ruled that the trial court -- Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina -- had "abused its discretion" by allowing 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse to be admitted as evidence against Msgr. Lynn.

    The 21 cases dated back to 1948, three years before Lynn was born, and took up at least 25 days of the 32-day trial. In his appeal brief, Lynn's lawyers argued that the prosecution "introduced these files to put on trial the entire Archdiocese of Philadelphia, hoping to convict [Lynn] by proxy for the sins of the entire church."

    The Superior Court judges agreed, ruling that the "probative value" of the supplemental cases "did not outweigh its potential for unfair prejudice, and that this potential prejudice was not overcome by the trial court's cautionary instructions."

    In their decision, the Superior Court judges heavily criticized Judge Sarmina, whom they had reversed on the same case for the second time in the three years. The judges wrote that Sarmina "has apparently mistaken quantity for quality in construing the probative value of this evidence en masse." The Superior Court judges further declared that the "probative value of significant quantities of this evidence was trivial or minimal."

    That prompted the D.A. to write a 30-page petition filed March 10th seeking a review of the Superior Court decision reversing Lynn's conviction and ordering a new trial. In its brief, the D.A. stated that the 21 supplemental sex abuse cases allowed into evidence by Judge Sarmina were relevant, necessary and not excessive, and that "the risk of improper prejudice was minimal."

    In its statement of the case, the district attorney began by saying, "Defendant was a high-ranking Archdiocesan official specifically responsible for protecting children from pedophile priests. Instead, he relocated them as part of a general scheme of concealment, in a manner that put numerous children at risk of being sexually molested."

    But according to the defense lawyers, the D.A.'s petition is "hinged on two inaccurate, uncharged and unproven allegations: that Father [Edward] Avery was a pedophile and that [Lynn] reassigned Avery as part of a general scheme of concealment."

    "The record is absolutely clear," the defense lawyers state. "Avery was never diagnosed as a pedophile," and that Lynn "never reassigned Avery" and "had no authority to assign or transfer any priests."

    "Only Cardinal Bevilacqua had such and final authority," the defense lawyers wrote. "Finally, no scheme to conceal was ever charged or proven."

    It is true, as the D.A. knows, that Avery was never diagnosed as a pedophile. The padre was interested in teenagers, not children. At Lynn's trial, the jury found Lynn not guilty of conspiring with Avery, or anyone else, to endanger the welfare of a child. It was also established through trial testimony that only Bevilacqua had the authority to reassign or transfer priests.

    "Not satisfied with distorting the facts," the defense lawyers wrote, the D.A. "fires a missile across the state Superior Court's bow by suggestion that the Court's decision will lead to unreported sex abuse."

    The defense lawyers quoted the D.A.'s brief as saying, "The message of the Superior Court's divided decision is a dismal one -- it signals victims of child sexual abuse who are already reluctant to come forward that they may do so in vain."

    "A more reckless and incendiary charge is unimaginable," the defense lawyers wrote.

    The defense lawyers quote the D.A. as saying that Lynn provided "aid to pedophile priests [which] led directly to the abuse" of Danny Gallagher by Avery. "Nothing is further from the actual truth," the defense lawyers wrote.

    "Among the 21 abusive priests uncovered in the secret archive files, and those he investigated, only 2 were diagnosed as pedophiles," the defense lawyers wrote, referring to former priests Peter Dunne and Nicholas Cudemo.

    Lynn recommended in 1993 that Dunne be removed from ministry, the defense lawyers wrote. Lynn had "no involvement with Cudemo," who was removed from the priesthood in 1995, and permitted to retire the following year.

    Attached to its brief, the defense lawyers included a six-page summary of the 21 priests who were the subject of the supplemental sex abuse cases allowed into evidence by Judge Sarmina, along with the "abusive history" of each to show that the D.A. had misstated the facts on most of the cases.

    "Faced with the knowledge that the Superior Court decision was completely correct," the defense lawyers wrote, the D.A. "resorts to draping all of the foregoing baseless arguments in the cloak of emotion, submitting time-and-again that this Court should grant its Petition because of the 'high profile' nature of the case. Unfortunately for the Commonwealth, the media attention paid to a case is not one of the Standards Governing Allowance of Appeal . . . and its Petition should be denied."

    The defense lawyers rip the D.A. for repeatedly "appealing to the [Supreme] Court's emotions." The defense lawyers quote the D.A.'s petition as saying, "Defendant was a high-ranking Archdiocesan official," and, "The high-ranking degree of national attention focused upon this case greatly exacerbates this problem, which transcends the interest of the parties."

    And: "This case is being closely followed, not merely by the media and the public at large, but by victims of similar kinds of sexual abuse."

    The defense lawyers left out this other incendiary gem from the D.A.'s brief: "Victims may now more than ever fear to come forward because, given the ultimate result in the case of one of the very masterminds of such a plot, there simply is no point."

    It's hard to be a mastermind of a plot when the jury decides there was no conspiracy between Lynn and Avery, or Lynn and anybody else.

    The state Supreme Court's standards for allowing petitions for appeal include if the lower court decision was erroneous, or conflicts with a higher court's decision. Other standards include if the case is of "substantial public importance." And if the lower court "has so far departed from accepted judicial practices or so abused its discretion as to call for the exercise of Pennsylvania Supreme Court's supervisory authority."

    "The standard is a tough one," the defense lawyers wrote. It's so tough that in 2014, the defense lawyers wrote, only 39 petitions were accepted, and 1,954 were denied. The D.A. is "undoubtedly aware of these statistics," the defense lawyers wrote, and that's why the D.A. "has resorted to its groundless, passion-based position."

    The district attorney in its petition contained "no discussion whatsoever" of any of the seven factors that the state Supreme Court is supposed to consider for appeals, the defense lawyers wrote. "The reason for that is obvious," the defense lawyers wrote. The D.A. "cannot pass the general test nor satisfy any of the factors."

    There is nothing special about the Lynn case, or important, the defense lawyers argued. The Superior Court decision is "non-precedential and unpublished," meaning it can't be cited by another court or party in any other action.

    Long odds, according to the defense lawyers. That explains why the D.A. 's office had to distort facts and appeal to emotion.  They're on a crusade to keep Lynn, the trophy head of the D.A.'s self-described "historic" prosecution of the church, in jail "where he belongs," as previously stated by Seth Williams.

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    Seth's ADAs hard at work?
    By Ralph Cipriano

    It's taken more than six weeks for the district attorney's office to investigate a 10-minute bar fight.

    And they're not done yet. We still have no idea what the D.A. ultimately will do about LeSean "Shady" McCoy, the former Eagles and current Buffalo Bills star running back who got involved in a Feb. 7th fracas at the Recess Lounge.

    It ain't Watergate that the D.A. is investigating. After six weeks, you have to wonder what's taking so long.

    For the past several weeks the rumor mill has it that prosecutors realize the case has so many problems they won't be able to charge anybody. The bar fight has been described as a can of worms that the D.A. doesn't want to open. Supposedly, the D.A.'s office was going to call a press conference in the near future to explain why Shady and friends will walk.

    But Cameron Kline, the D.A.'s spokesman, shot that down. "I can say the office is continuing to investigate and no press conference is being scheduled," Kline said today.

    Considering the facts of the case, a couple of prominent criminal defense lawyers who prefer not to be identified predict that the D.A. won't be able to prosecute anybody. But Seth Williams does have a political problem on his hands. Two off-duty cops were seriously injured in the fight and our hang-em-high mayor and FOP president have already called for arresting Shady and his pals. That's what appears to be taking so long: our publicity hound of a D.A. is still trying to figure out how to explain no arrests without taking a political hit.

    Can you smell what the D.A.'s cooking?
    Here's the can of worms that the D.A. doesn't want to open.

    Two of the three off-duty cops involved in the fight were seen by witnesses drinking earlier in the night at another lounge. The two cops appeared to be intoxicated before they got into their cars and drove to the Recess Lounge, witnesses told investigators.

     The fight was allegedly started by one of the off-duty cops, Officer Roland Butler, who supposedly swiped a $350 bottle of pink champagne off McCoy's table. Then, when Shady's friends protested, Officer Butler, at 6-foot-4 and at least 250-pounds, allegedly grabbed one of McCoy's friends, former Pitt running back Tamarcus Porter [6-foot-1, 195-pounds] by the neck, and body-slammed him to the ground.

    During the brawl, a witness saw one of the off-duty cops, Sgt. Daniel Ayres, reach for a black 9 mm pistol in a holster on his right hip. That's when the witness supposedly told McCoy, "Shady, he's a cop." [McCoy, however, told his lawyer he didn't see any gun].

    If the sergeant did have a gun, this would be a problem in Philadelphia, where the police commissioner has a directive that says off-duty cops aren't allowed to carry their guns into bars. There's also the question of whether the other two off-duty cops were also carrying guns in a club where cop patrons routinely aren't frisked.

    Then there's the problem of why the cops didn't call 911, which is what they're supposed to do when they're involved in an off-duty incident. And why Officer Butler drove around for a while before seeking treatment at Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Upper Darby.

    That's a lot of explaining to do that could wind up with some of the officers facing serious disciplinary measures along with nursing those injuries they got in the fight.

    One thing's for sure. In the six weeks since the fight, the D.A.'s office hasn't been too busy investigating. One witness who knew Officer Butler was drinking that night was contacted by police detectives, rather than any of the detectives assigned to the D.A.'s office.

    Dennis Cogan, McCoy's lawyer, who usually plays his cards close to the vest, was supposedly quite upset about that, according to a source. Especially since it was police department detectives who initially investigated the case in what could be described as a less-than-thorough fashion, and wanted  to arrest Shady and his pals.
    Shady and his lawyer
    Other witnesses to the fight have also not been contacted by the district attorney's detectives. It makes you wonder what goes on over at Seth Williams's shop, and whether they worry more about politics than police work.

    Cogan wouldn't talk about the details of the investigation when I asked him about it. But he did take a shot at FOP President McNesby for politicizing the incident.

    It was McNesby who went on the WIP radio show a month ago to declare that "If he [the D.A.] doesn't charge the group of individuals that were there that night," it would be an "absolute disrespect to Philadelphia police officers."

    "It's McNesby who was disrespecting the rank and file, good and honest cops by putting them in the same hodgepodge with some off-duty cops who may or may not be acting off-base," Cogan said. "He [McNesby] is dishonoring the rank and file. Not Seth Williams by not charging anybody."

    McNesby, who has been noticeably quiet about the case for the past month, did not respond to a call requesting comment. Brian McMonagle, a FOP lawyer defending the off-duty cops involved in the fight, also did not respond to a request for comment.

    A month ago, when Cogan was hired by McCoy, the defense lawyer telephoned the district attorney's office and offered to show up and explain his client's side of the story. The D.A.'s office responded that they'd welcome the meeting, whether Cogan brought his client along or not.

    But McCoy wanted to come, so the meeting was scheduled for Feb. 22nd at the district attorney's office. Hours before the meeting, however, a media throng, tipped off by the cops, gathered outside the district attorney's office. McCoy's lawyers balked at staging what might look like a "perp walk" starring McCoy.

    So the district attorney agreed to move the meeting to Cogan's office at 2000 Market Street. But the location of that meeting was also leaked to the news media by police detectives.

    After the D.A. met with McCoy, McNesby attempted to make some political hay out of it.

    "If that's not preferential treatment, what is?" McNesby told "To have a D.A. personally meet with a potential defendant or his lawyer before being charged is bizarre."

    Not ready for his closeup
    Seth Williams, however, was not at the meeting. A district attorney spokesman replied that "Anytime an attorney wishes to have their client reach out to us, we do that. This is not an issue of preferential treatment. This is an issue of conducting a thorough investigation."

    And so, as the D.A. continues to drag this out, it's Shady McCoy who's facing some high stakes.

    According to a source, if he's even suspended for one game, McCoy, would stand to lose all of the guaranteed money in the $40 million contract that he signed last year, reported to be at least $18 million. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills, a billion-dollar corporation, have to be wondering whether they'll need to draft a replacement for their star running back at the NFL draft next month.

    That's a lot riding on a Philly D.A.'s investigation that continues to proceed at a snail's pace. While the head guy appears to be more concerned about his image rather than just doing his job.

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  • 03/26/16--02:24: Big Trial On WIP
  • The story of what went down between "Shady" McCoy and a trio of off-duty cops at the Recess Lounge has largely played out on WIP, the city's sports talk radio station.

    While The Philadelphia Inquirer has basically ignored the story, WIP Morning Host Angelo Cataldi has led the way, getting key interviews with FOP President John ["Hang 'em high"] McNesby and District Attorney Seth ["We're still investigating"] Williams, our bumbling, ethically challenged fraud of a district attorney.

    Big Trial has played a key part in WIP's Shady coverage, beginning with this story that led to this appearance on the Feb. 22 WIP Morning Show and continuing with this update  on March 23rd. [Scroll down on the page to March 23rd to hear the replay].

    Cataldi used Big Trial's reporting and appearance on his show to flush out McNesby later that morning, and this time the heavyweight FOP prez was singing a different tune. By the end of the week, Cataldi was still lobbying to get D.A. Williams to come back on the show and explain why it's taken his office seven weeks to investigate a ten-minute bar fight.

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  • 03/26/16--09:33: The Roundup
  • A weekly tab of what's
    going on in the courts.

    By Shealyn Kilroy

     District Attorney of Philadelphia:

    Daniel Dougherty
    Seventeen years ago, Daniel Dougherty was sentenced to death for setting his home on fire that killed his 3-year-old and 4-year-old sons in 1985. On March 21, a retrial of the case began after Dougherty, 56, won his appeal. Dougherty has proclaimed his innocence since his estranged wife Adrienne Sussman came to authorities 14 years after the fire insisting he had admitted to arson. In his past testimony, Dougherty denied deliberately setting fires and claimed he was the failed hero that could not save his sons’ lives. But since the original trial, two arson investigators have reexamined the evidence and found no conclusive indicators of arson, according to CNN.'s Jeff Gammage covered the trial on March 23, Gammage reported that Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy insisted that there's no doubt that Dougherty intentionally set the fire. Defense lawyer David Fryman stated that if Dougherty was truly guilty of this crime, it would have surfaced before Sussman came to police. Sussman did not testify at the original trial. She, along with Dougherty's trial lawyer Thomas Ciccone, and other witnesses are deceased.

    Brandon McKelvey is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 23 for charges related to a 2014 abduction and execution, according to the District Attorney's office. McKelvey was charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery, conspiracy and weapons offenses for allegedly shooting two men, one fatally, on April 17, 2014. Carl Johnson, 29, was found dead with his hands and face duct taped . McKelvey is one of the five men who face charges in this case. Deforest Johnson, Christopher Corley, Ken Thomas, and Nysare Oneil O. Alston were charged similarly. Thomas pleaded guilty in January to third-degree murder. Police say the motive was robbery.

    New Jersey Attorney General:
    Jose Fortuna and Wilson Fortuna
    Jose O. Fortuna and Wilson Fortuna pleaded guilty to operating a heroin mill and first degree heroin charges on March 22, according to the Attorney General’s office. Both are from Camden, Jose, 40, is the uncle of Wilson, 26 and were arrested in October 2013 along with four others in Operation China White and Operation 3Ni -- drug investigations led by federal and N.J. police. 

    When a search warrant was executed on a home shared by Jose, Wilson, and Jasmine Vallar, 38, authorities found s heroin lab in the basement containing a steel hydraulic press, 12 containers of a dietary supplement used as a cutting agent, scales, tools used for cutting and packaging, a currency counter, and $30,000 in cash. They also found a plastic bag containing three-quarters of a kilo of heroin. Charges against Vallar are still pending. 

    Wilson was dealing drugs and getting the heroin from the basement mill. Jose could see 14.5 years in state prison, including five years of parole ineligibility, on the heroin distribution charge, and a concurrent sentence of 12 years, including 4 ½ years of parole ineligibility, on the heroin production facility charge. The recommended sentence for Wilson is 11 years in state prison, including more than three years of parole ineligibility on the distribution charge, and a concurrent sentence of seven years on the conspiracy charge.

    Pennsylvania Attorney General:Three men have been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography on March 23, according to the Attorney General’s office.
    Christopher Douglass

    Christopher Wayne Douglass, 34, of Venango County was charged with 23 counts of child pornography related charges. Investigators were led to Douglass after an undercover investigation into online child pornography sharing led to Douglass’ IP Address. Authorities executed a search warrant on Douglass’ residence and found questionable files on his cell phone and laptop Failing to post bail of $50,000, Douglass is being held at Venango County Prison.

    Peter M. Medve, 32 of Northhampton County was charged with 317 counts of child pornography related charges. Similarly to the Douglass case, investigators discovered a computer on a file sharing networked believed to depict child pornography, and that IP address associated with the computer was allegedly registered to Medve.

    After a search warrant was executed on Medve’s home, authorities found child pornography files on multiple devices. Medve failed to post 10 percent of his $150,000 bail and is currently being held at Northhampton County Prison. A preliminary hearing is tentatively set for March 29.

    Timothy Morrow


    Timothy Wade Morrow, 54, of Westmoreland County, is charged with 20 counts of child pornography related charges. An undercover investigation led authorities to execute a search warrant on Morrow’s residence. On scene, a computer forensics team found two hard drives with numerous apparent child pornography files. Morrow failed to post $25,000 bail and is confined to the Westmoreland County Prison. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for March 23.

    Shealyn can be reached at

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  • 03/31/16--09:09: Northeast Times Outs Billy
  • Uh oh. Now my old neighbors know I'm a fraud!

    "His real name is Daniel. He's a 27-year-old multimillionaire living in Florida. And his chronically evolving, apparently contradictory recollections of his own childhood sexual abuse formed the foundation of a criminal case that sent two priests and a lay teacher from the Northeast's St. Jerome's Parish, as well as a monsignor, to jail."

    That's the opening of the Northeast Times story today that outs "Billy Doe," Philadelphia's famous rape-prone altar boy. In doing so, the Northeast Times joins Newsweek, the National Catholic Reporter, and of course, Big Trial. The rest of the Northeast Times story can be read here.

    [Note to The Philadelphia Inquirer: This is how you cover news.]

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  • 04/02/16--09:30: The Roundup
  • A weekly tab of what's
    going on in the courts.

    By Shealyn Kilroy

    Christopher Haas
    A Villanova professor has been charged with possession of hundreds of child pornography images, according to Radnor Township police.

    Christopher Haas, 60, an Associate Professor of History and Classical Studies, was charged with 415 counts of sexual child abuse. David Tedjeske, Villanova Director of Public Safety, says the university monitors its networks for illegal and suspicious activity and that is how they were alerted of Haas' activity, 6abc reports.

    “A faculty member in the history and classical studies department accessed child pornography from a computer in the common area of an office in the Saint Augustine Center in the center of campus,” Tedjeske said.

    Homeland Security had been conducting an ongoing investigation since 2012 after receiving information that Haas’ was accessing on child porn on his home computer. Haas' arraignment is scheduled for April 27.

    Philadelphia District Attorney:

    Steven Simminger
    Steven Simminger who stabbed another man to death allegedly over a hockey cap is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 30, according to the District Attorney’s office. Simminger, 40, of Blackwood, N.J., is charged with murder and other related offenses. Around 3 a.m. on March 13, police say Bucks County man Colin McGovern, 24, who was with three friends, began to poke fun at Simminger’s, 40, of Blackwood, N.J., New Jersey Devils hat. The comment turned into a verbal altercation that turned into a physical brawl between the two men. Simminger then took out a knife and began stabbing McGovern in the chest. McGovern was later pronounced dead. Knives were found in bushes near the scene of the stabbing days later.

    Sixteen years ago, a jury had deliberated for only three hours to decide that Daniel Dougherty was guilty of arson that killed his two young sons. The case is being retried, and the jury has deliberated for a day and a half and will pick up Monday. The judge gathered the jurors in the courtroom on April 1 and asked how they were doing, reports The jurors had a question for the judge: Could they have a definition of reasonable doubt?
    And back to deliberating they went.

    Edward Sawicki
    The trial of Philadelphia Police Officer Edward Sawicki is scheduled to begin on March 31, according to the District Attorney’s office. Sawicki is charged with possession weapon, making terroristic threats, assault and other related offenses related to an incident that occurred on Oct. 20, 2013. The nine-year veteran of the force allegedly backed up into Lamar Fouse, 37, on 1300 block of South 9th Street around 2:45 a.m. When Fouse went to alert the officer that he had hit him, Sawicki got out of his car, flashed a gun, made racial slurs and threatened to kill Fouse. according to a spokeswoman from the D.A.’s office. Sawicki surrendered himself on April 2, 2014, according to

    New Jersey Attorney General:

    Three men plead guilty to human trafficking charges on March 28, according to the Attorney General’s office. In the spring of 2015, Michael A. McLeod, 25, of Jersey City, N.J., David Powell Jr., 29, of Jersey City,  N.J., and Demetrius James Hayward, 20, of Summerville, South Carolina had been advertising photos of the victim, a 14-year-old runaway, as a female escort on Along with the 14-year-old victim, another 18-year-old victim was being prostituted out by these men. McLeod, the “boss” of the ring, held a gun to the head of the older victim and threatened to kill her.
    Each of the victims had paid sex with over 10 people a day, and the average $800 made each day was collected by McLeod. Because McLeod kept most of the money to himself and kept it from the victims, Hayward and Powell brought food to the girls or took them out to eat. Along with Powell, Hayward, Tyree D. Jeter, 28, of Jersey City is the fourth defendant whose alleged role was to control the girls when boss McLeod was not around and ensure the girls couldn’t leave. The charges against Jeter are still pending. McLeod could see 18 years in prison with four years of parole ineligibility. Powell could spend six years in state prison, and Hayward may spend five years in state prison.

    Shealyn can be reached at 

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  • 04/02/16--14:54: Big Trial's Cardinal Sins
  • His Eminence

    A trio of blog posts about the late great Cardinal Bevilacqua:

    What the Cardinal Knew, or How to Hoover a Pedophile

    How Cardinal Tony put two known abuser priests to work polishing his public image.

    Ongoing Archdiocese Fire Sale Exposes 19-Year Cover-Up of Cardinal Bevilacqua's Lavish Spending

    How Cardinal Tony's PR henchmen used a pack of lies to bail the big guy out of a public relations jam down at the Jersey Shore.

    Inside the Archdiocese Spin Machine

    How Cardinal Tony employed an outrageous liar as his paid mouthpiece.

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  • 04/03/16--08:10: Big Trial's Underworld Hits
  • Pal Joeys

    Some Philly gangster classics by Big Trial's George Anastasia:

    Skinny Joey Talks About Nicky Skins And Life Without The Mob

    Philadelphia's celebrity gangster gets a fresh start in Florida.

    Joe Vito Mastronardo, Gentleman Gambler, Heads To Court

    The amazing story of Frank Rizzo's son-in-law.

    Masterworks, Murders And Mobsters, A Philadelphia Story?

    Does A Famous $500 Million Art Heist Have a Philly Connection?

    Kaboni Savage: Tears of Rage, But No Regrets

    Killer talks about "Barbecue Sauce" and "Burnt Bitches."

    Murder, Mayhem And Philadelphia Politics

    Some very strange bedfellows.

    A Bentley, A Yacht And Piles of Cash

    A key witness describes the lavish lifestyle of Salvatore Pelullo.

    Joey Merlino Heading Back To Philadelphia

    A homecoming for Philadelphia's celebrity gangster.

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    By George Anastasia

    Gary Battaglini's never been to law school but the one-time South Philadelphia bookmaker has apparently learned to speak legalese.

    And speak it fairly well.

    Filing motions on his own behalf, Battaglini has won the right to an evidentiary hearing that he hopes will result in either his conviction being overturned or will earn him a reduced sentence or a new trial.

    If you're taking book on it, make it a longshot. But that hasn't stopped the soft spoken but street-savvy Battaglini from trying. The hearing, on his rule 2255 motion, is tentatively set for Thursday morning before Judge Eduardo Robreno who presided over the mob racketeering trial in 2012 that ended with Battaglini, 54, and three others being convicted. Battaglini was sentenced to eight years.

    As he had throughout the trial, Battaglini from prison has continued to insist that his conviction was without merit and that he was swept away in an anti-Mafia prosecution in which the feds played fast and loose with the rules.

    Among other things, inmate Battaglini, from his prison cell, filed a civil against his chief prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor 3d, and FBI Agent John Augustine alleging they withheld and distorted evidence that could have resulted in his acquittal.

    In a move that demonstrated the legal equivalent of chutzpah, Battaglini sought $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The suit was dismissed as baseless shortly after it was filed.

    But the issues remain part of Battaglini's ongoing legal battle. Whether he and his recently appointed attorney Hope Lefeber are able to fold them into the scheduled hearing could be problematic. Judge Robreno has limited the hearing to just one of six issues raised in a brief filed by Battaglini more
    than a year ago.

    The hearing is set to determine whether Battaglini's trial lawyer, Lawrence O'Connor, provided ineffective counsel by failing to file a timely notice of appeal after the convictions were announced on Feb. 5, 2013.

    The government contends the issue is fairly straight forward. O'Connor never filed a notice of appeal because "Battaglini never directed him to do so." Battaglini, of course, disputes that contention.

    The other issues on "ineffective counsel" focus on witnesses, government actions and the failure of his defense attorney to raise issues and objections during the trial. Those seem to be off point in terms of the timely filing of an appeal notice, but in an broader sense outline what that appeal might have been based on.

    Robreno rejected most of the arguments during trial, but that's what an appeal process is all about. Battaglini is arguing that he never got the chance to take his case to a higher court.

    In his motion, he cites several specific issues, including the failure of his defense attorney to challenge the credibility of government witness Michael Orlando and the admission of tapes from another government cooperator, Peter Albo, who was not called as a witness.

    Orlando, whose testimony was interrupted when he was briefly hospitalized, was described by the defense as a one-time drug abuser who was saying whatever the government wanted him to say in order to avoid prosecution for his own criminal activities.

    In his motion, Battaglini contended that from the witness stand Orlando was "free to weave any tale attendant to a smorgasbord of uncorroborated assertions, including that Battaglini was a bookmaker and loanshark...and that Battaglini boasted to the witness his mob association."

    He also argued that his defense failed to make a distinction between a $5,000 debt Orlando owed to mobster Steven Mazzone and a $500 "legitimate" loan that Orlando owed to Battaglini.

    Battaglini said the evidence showed that he only "advised" Orlando to pay the mob debt and that the $500 loan "was a legitimate debt having nothing to do with mob activities." He also pointed out that while Orlando claimed to know Battaglini, Orlando failed to identify him on three different occasions while on the witness stand.

    Just as detrimental to his defense, Battaglini said, was his attorney's failure to attack the tape conversations of government cooperator Peter Albo who was not called to testify, but who had secretly recorded a series of conversations that were introduced as evidence.

    Like Orlando, Albo was described as in debt to the mob. Why he was not called as a witness is at the heart of Battaglini's argument. He contends that only after all the Albo tapes were played for the jury through the testimony of FBI Agent John Augustine did the government disclose that during the trial -- in fact while the tapes were being played in court  -- Albo recanted two key points in a debriefing with the FBI.

    That, Battaglini implies, is the reason Albo was never called to the stand, even though he was listed as a potential witness. An FBI memo of the debriefing, which was provided later in the trial, notes that "Albo directly contradicts, more or less, all of the information that he provided the government over the course of this investigation."

    Written by Augustine, the memo noted that Albo said he never felt threatened by either Battaglini or Louis Barretta, another bookmaker who pleaded guilty to gambling charges. What's more, he recanted an earlier statement that Barretta was a mob associate, claiming instead that Barretta "liked to throw names around."

    The FBI memo, a so-called 302, is reprinted here in full:

    During the interview of PETER ALBO on November 19, 2012, ALBO made a number of statements to the investigating agent and to Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Frank Labor, which were contradictory to previous statements and information provided to the Government by ALBO from 2002 up until that 11/19/2012 interview. The contradictory statements made by ALBO are summarized as follows:
    1. ALBO now stated that he never felt personally threatened by GARY BATTAGLNI or LOUIS BARRETTA as a result of demands to ALBO that he repay the sports betting debt he incurred in 2002. This statement contradicts numerous previous statements made by ALBO to the investigating agent in which ALBO expressed significant concern for his personal safety due to the fact that he was threatened to repay this debt. 
    2. ALBO now stated that he was unaware of LOUIS BARRETTA'S association with Philadelphia organized crime. ALBO stated that BARRETTA 'liked to throw names around," when questions about BARRETTA'S affiliation with Philadelphia LCN member STEVEN MAZZONE. These statements contradict numerous previous statements made by ALBO to the investigating agent in which ALBO directly linked BARRETTA to MAZZONE and advised that BARRETTA was running a bookmaking operations on MAZZONE'S behalf while MAZZONE was incarcerated.
    The investigating agent noted that these statements contradict not only ALBO'S previous statements, but also voluminous evidence including recorded statements made by ALBO, BATTAGLINI and BARRETTA during the period of investigation. 

    Battaglini argued that the defense was not informed of the recantation memo until Nov. 27, 2012, even though the interview occurred on Nov. 19, 2012. During this time the trial was underway and Augustine was testifying about tapes Albo had made.
    Labor, Battaglini contended in his legal brief, "sought to cover up or smooth over this wrinkle in his case by failing to mention it until every iota of Albo evidence was back-doored" through the testimony of Augustine and another FBI agent. That, he contended, should have been grounds for a defense motion barring the Albo takes or a motion for a mistrial.

    In fact, Robreno had heard defense arguments to that effect, but allowed the tapes to be played. Again, while Robreno's ruling seems to undermine a part of Battaglini's ineffective counsel argument, the issue of the Albo tapes would certainly have been part of an appeal had it been filed.
    Three other defendants convicted with Battaglini raised similar appeal issues which were rejected. Earlier this year, a Third Circuit Appellate Court panel denied appeal motions filed on behalf of mob underbosss Joseph "Mousie Massimino, mob capo Anthony Staino and mob soldier Damion Canalichio and ruled that their convictions should stand.
    Three other defendants in the case, mob boss Joseph Ligambi, mob capo Joseph "Scoops" Licata, and mob leader George Borgesi, beat the charges.
    Battaglini was the only defendant not described as a made member of the Philadelphia crime family. Prosecutor's labeled him as an associate, a description that Battaglini disputed.
    At one point in his brief he argued that, "It was Battaglni's position that, however illegal, his taking of sports bets was an individual activity and not part of a mob enterprise." For that reason as well, Battaglini argued that his lawyer failed to object to a closing argument by Assistant U. S. Attorney John Han in which Han said the defense had conceded "these seven defendants are all associated with the Philly mob."
    Battaglini said his defense never conceded that issue and that there should have been a strong objection to that characterization.
    The prosecution contends, however, that Battaglini's lawyer provided him with a defense on all the issues raised and that the judge considered and rejected the issues being raised again. There was more than enough evidence to warrant a conviction, prosecutors argue, including Battaglini's own words in a secretly recorded conversation with one of the deadbeat gamblers who owed money to the mob.
    "You're about to see a side of me you ain't gonna fucking enjoy," Battaglini said as the tape picked up every word. "Cause right now I wanna fucking put a bullet in your head. Do you fucking understand me? Stevie's in jail. Stevie ain't got nothing to do with nothing no more. That book don't belong to him. They wiped all that stuff off the books...There's a new boss in town. It's Uncle Joe's book and everything gets kicked upstairs to him now. He don't want to know nothing. He just wants his money. That's all he wants, his fucking envelope and that's it."

    George Anastasia can be reached at


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  • 04/04/16--04:31: Shady Walks
  • By Ralph Cipriano

    Expect to see puffs of white smoke today emanating from the district attorney's office.

    According to multiple sources, after nine weeks of investigating a ten-minute bar fight, the prosecutors, detectives and politicians in the D.A.'s office, have finally reached a consensus. According to multiple sources, the district attorney will call a press conference this afternoon to announce that NFL star running back LeSean "Shady" McCoy and his buddies will not face any criminal charges as a result of a Feb. 7th brawl at the Recess Lounge.

    In February, both the mayor and the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, after seeing a 30-second cell pone video posted on TMZ Sports, had called for McCoy to be arrested for the brawl that resulted in serious injuries to two off-duty police officers.

    But after nine weeks of investigation, the district attorney's office has concluded that because there's such a cacophony of versions of what happened inside the Recess Lounge, no single account can be discerned, much less proven. So no successful prosecution can be brought

    From the outset, the D.A's investigation has been hampered because the off-duty officers involved in the fracas supposedly had been drinking, not only at the Recess Lounge, according to witnesses, but also at another Old City bar earlier in the evening. There was also a witness report that one of the off-duty cops at the bar was packing a gun, in violation of department policy.

    The district attorney's decision is good news for Shady McCoy because it means he won't have to forfeit any money from the $40 million contract that he signed last year with the Buffalo Bills, after he was traded from the Eagles.

    If McCoy had been suspended for even one game, according to sources, he would have risked losing all of the guaranteed money in his new contract, said to be at least $18 million.

    It was only four days after the brawl at the Recess Lounge that Mayor Jim Kenney pronounced McCoy guilty.

    "If McCoy wants to stomp our officers and pound our officers, then he needs to pay the price and answer for his actions," Kenney told CBS Eyewitness News. "In addition to punches being thrown, there were some kicks that looked as if they were being leveled and that's unconscionable and it's cowardly."

     Just 12 days after the incident, John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, went on the WIP morning show to announce that the district attorney's investigation should have been over by then.

    "I've never waited this long, ever, to see somebody arrested," McNesby told WIP morning show host Angelo Cataldi. "So it doesn't pass the smell test. Something's funny going on. I know that they have more discovery on this case than they had in the O.J. Simpson case."

    "It was an all-out beat down," McNesby told Cataldi. "It was a sucker punch to the one officer by LeSean McCoy over a bottle of champagne, and it was an all-out beat down . . . This wasn't just an assault, it was an aggravated assault."

    But nine weeks later, everybody's expected to walk.

    The problem with the cops's side of the case is that the off-duty officers didn't exactly behave like the victims of an unfair assault.

    According to witnesses, the brawl was allegedly started by Officer Roland Butler, who supposedly swiped a $350 bottle of pink champagne off McCoy's table. Then, when McCoy's friends protested, Officer Butler, at 6-foot-4 and at least 250-pounds, allegedly grabbed one of Shady's pals -- Tamarcus Porter, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound former Pitt running back -- by the neck and body-slammed him to the ground.

    During the brawl, a witness saw one of the off-duty cops, Sgt. Daniel Ayres, reach for a black 9 mm pistol in a holster on his right hip. "Shady, he's a cop," the witness told McCoy.

    The Philadelphia police commissioner has a directive that says off-duty cops aren't allowed to carry guns into bars. There's also the question of whether the other two off-duty cops were carrying guns in a club where cop patrons routinely aren't frisked.

    The officers again broke protocol when they didn't call 911 after the fight, which is what they're supposed to do when they're involved in an off-duty incident.

    Instead, Officer Butler fled the scene on his way to seeking treatment at Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Upper Darby, where he was treated for a laceration to his right eye, a broken nose, broken ribs and a sprained thumb.

     The other off-duty cop injured in the brawl, Officer Darnell Jessie was admitted to Hahnemann University Hospital where he received eight stitches over his left eye and treatment for a possible skull fracture. The third off-duty cop at the Recess Lounge, Sgt. Ayers, was uninjured but filed a police report two days after the altercation.

    McCoy was seen during the video apparently taking a swing. His story is that he was attempting to get Butler off of his buddy. If he threw a punch, he whiffed. Then, a woman dragged him away from the melee. Photographs taken of McCoy's hands right after the battle showed he didn't have bruises or any other sign of injury.

    "I'm telling you that McCoy did nothing wrong, nothing wrong," McCoy's lawyer, Dennis Cogan, told the Buffalo News in February. "And he was sober. The questions will have to be asked about the conditions of the other people."

    As for Officer Butler, at 4 a.m. Feb. 7th, hours after the fracas, he posted comments on his Facebook page that said that the guys who attacked him "can't hide behind Shady." Some 96 comments were posted on Butler's page. The next day, Officer Butler admitted to witnesses that he was drunk at the time of the altercation. He said he was going to see a civil lawyer. Subsequently, Butler's Facebook page was taken down.

    For the D.A.'s office, it all added up to one big headache with the cops having more problems than Shady. The result is the announcement from the D.A.'s office expected today that everybody walks.

    A spokesperson for the district attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment, but other media outlets are reporting a press conference is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at the D.A.'s office.

    Dennis Cogan, Shady's lawyer, declined comment.

    After popping off about McCoy, Mayor Kenney has been silent on the subject. His spokesperson last month did not respond month to a request for comment. Neither did FOP President McNesby, who went on the WIP Morning Show a second time, but changed his tune.

    If the cops are at fault, McNesby told Cataldi, why not  just say it?

    Today, down at the district attorney's office, according to multiple sources, they'll finally get around to doing just that by holding the usual dog-and-pony show at an official district attorney press conference.

    And when they do, maybe even The Philadelphia Inquirer, our Pulitzer Prize winning paper of record, will get the story.

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    By Ralph Cipriano

    The D.A. put on quite a dog and pony show today.

    But when the dog and pony departed the stage, they left behind a few fragrant manure piles.

    The first pile dropped when the D.A. and four assistant district attorneys told a room full of reporters and TV camera crews that the Feb. 7th brawl at the Recess Lounge, featuring Shady McCoy and a couple of off-duty cops, was just another routine case. And that the D.A. treated it just like he would any other investigation. As in, just the facts, ma'am.

    Yeah, right. We're talking about a barroom brawl over a $350 bottle of pink champagne that featured a celebrity pro football player and a couple of off-duty cops who got beaten up. It's a story that made it onto WIP, TMZ and ESPN, as well as The Washington Post, and every pro football blog in the country.

    Our D.A. is a well-known publicity hound. And we all know that R. Seth Williams doesn't devote nine weeks and assign at least a half-dozen ADAs and a bunch of detectives to investigate every barroom brawl.

    So please Mr. D.A., don't try and tell us what we're smelling after your press conference is a bunch of daisies.

    The D.A. dropped his next stinker when he pretended that his office treated a trio of off-duty cops involved in the brawl just like they would any other average ordinary citizens.

    Sifting through the manure piles, it's clear that there was plenty of credible evidence that Officer Roland Butler may have started the fight.

    The D.A. admitted that Officer Butler grabbed former Pitt running back Tamarcus Porter by the collar, and then by the throat. Somehow, the D.A. said, sounding mystified, both men wound up on the ground where many witnesses saw Officer Butler, all 6-foot-4 and at least 250 pounds of him, on top of the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Porter, the D.A. told reporters.

    When the bouncers threw Butler out of the Recess Lounge, along with Porter and Officer Darnell Jessie, another off-duty cop, two on-duty Philadelphia police officers were standing outside the club, Williams said. And what did they see? That Officer Butler was "the person being the most aggressive outside," according to the D.A.

    "I want the guy with the dreads, I want the guy with the dreads" is what witnesses supposedly overheard Officer Butler saying about his desire to get even with Porter.

    Williams and his assistant D.A.s made a big deal at the press conference out of saying that they couldn't prosecute the case because of "insufficient evidence." A big part of that evidence, Williams said, was that only two of the 27 witnesses the D.A. interviewed gave statements about how the brawl actually started. And those two witnesses completely contradicted each other.

    It took a while for reporters to decode who Williams  and his assistants were talking about because they didn't identify the brawl participants by name or by occupation, as in off-duty cops.

    But as the dog and pony show generated more and more fertilizer, it became clear that the only two witnesses who gave statements to the D.A. about how the brawl started were those two off-duty cops who were right in the middle of the fracas, none other than Officers Butler and Jessie!

    It's amazing that the two cops couldn't get their story straight.

    Officer Jessie, according to Williams, "didn't know how he got hurt, didn't know who hurt him, didn't even know he was hurt." But whether the officer suffered a concussion or was blind drunk, we'll never know.

    But let's get back to the D.A.'s investigators. Do you think they would have gotten a third opinion about who started the fight if they talked to Tamarcus Porter?

    Oh wait, they didn't do that.

    That's right, they didn't talk to Porter, the guy who had Officer Butler's hands around his throat, according to Dennis Cogan, Shady McCoy's lawyer, who conducted his own investigation of the fracas.

    "If this case had ever come to court we would have pointed fingers at the off duty police officers," Cogan said. But Cogan's client had just side-stepped a criminal indictment that would have resulted in the star running back having to forfeit at least $18 million of the guaranteed money in his $40 million contract with the Buffalo Bills. So Cogan could afford to be in a charitable mood.

    In his opinion, Cogan said, the D.A.'s investigation "should have been terminated earlier." But "Look, it turned out right."

    When the district attorney's prosecutors and detectives talked to Cogan and McCoy during a voluntary interview on Feb. 23rd, Cogan said he passed around the table a few "eye-popping photos" of some fearsome bruises on Porter's neck.

    Cogan also told the D.A. about a witness who saw Sgt. Daniel Ayres, the third off-duty inside the Recess Lunge, allegedly reach for a black 9 mm pistol in a holster on his right hip.

    "Shady, he's a cop," the witness told McCoy.

    That witness talked to Cogan's investigators. But at the D.A.'s press conference, one assistant D.A. went out of his way to tell reporters that they didn't rely on Cogan's investigation, and interview many of the witnesses that Shady's lawyer dug up. Instead, the ADA said, they conducted their own independent investigation and found their own witnesses. In addition to other witnesses who came forward on their own.

    That's great but why not talk to all the witness at the Recess Lounge? Even the ones Cogan gave you. Were they somehow tainted? Were you afraid of hearing something that you didn't want to hear?

    After the dog and pony show was over, I asked the D.A.'s guys if they ever  talked to any witness who saw one of the cops with a gun.

    No, they didn't, they said.

    As far as Cogan was concerned, the D.A.'s dog and pony show was OK because it showed his guy didn't do anything wrong.

    "He [McCoy] didn't start the fight, he didn't provoke the fight," Cogan said. And McCoy didn't see who started the fight either.

    "All he saw was a big guy on top of his friend with his hands on his friend's throat," Cogan said.
    "What's he supposed to do?"

    If McCoy didn't try to break up the fight, Cogan said, "the whole country would be talking about what a coward he is."

    While the district attorney claimed that all the participants in the brawl had been drinking heavily, Cogan disputed that.

    "My guy was not drunk," Cogan said. "He had like two sips of Hennessy. He's not a drinker; he's never been into drinking."

    When McCoy voluntarily met with the D.A. on Feb. 23rd, he was emotional and teary-eyed.

    He has friends who are cops, he said. He would never want to hurt a cop. But Officer Butler, who was in plainclothes that night, did not behave like a cop at the Recess Lounge, McCoy told the D.A. No, Officer Butler acted more like a thug.

    At the press conference, in addition to the fragrant piles he left behind, the D.A. dropped a few last nuggets before he left the podium.

    At the Recess Lounge, the D.A. said, they have a special deal, buy three bottles of champagne for $350 each, and, "You get the fourth bottle free."

    So instead of running up a $1,400 bar tab, the off-duty cops spent only $1,050, according to our cost-concious D.A.
    The artist formerly known as Rufus

    Also, when the D.A. is running an investigation, he might as well be wearing a beret on his shaved head.

    That's because when this D.A. investigates a crime, he told reporters, he and his guys are painting a portrait. And every time they talk to a new witness, they're splashing some fresh paint on the canvas.

    When the D.A. was talking about his investigation of the brawl at the Recess Lounge, he grew rhapsodic, comparing it to a "Pablo Picasso painting."

    I kid you not.

    The D.A. may be right about being an artist.

     But instead of paint and canvas, his medium is bullshit.

    Melee At The Recess Lounge 

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    By George Anastasia

    Earlier this year lawyers for the state of New Jersey presented arguments for the legalization of sports betting in Atlantic City's casinos and at the state's racetracks.

    The legal arguments before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals included lots of posturing from both the state and the professional and collegiate athletic organizations that oppose the idea. Ethics and integrity were the buzz words thrown around by lawyers for the NCAA, MLB, NFL and NBA. Economics was the linchpin of the state's positon.

    New Jersey just wants a piece of the action.

    An obscure case playing out in the same federal courthouse at Sixth and Market Streets helps drive home the state's point.

    There's money, serious money, to be made in taking bets on sporting events.

    Just ask Leonard Stango, a 68-year-old South Philadelphian who quietly ran a sports book that over a three-year period beginning in 2006 generated over $5 million. That, according to authorities, was just a slice of Stango's business which Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Potts wrote "spanned years" and generated "significant profits -- over $2 million tax free."

    Stango's case offers a glimpse into the economics of bookmaking. It's part of a financial world often dominated by organized crime. But it's one in which low-key operators can generate significant income without attracting the attention of either the wiseguys or the feds.

    Leonard Stango may have been one of those operators.

    Described by his attorney as a "small time bookmaker,” Stango pleaded guilty two years ago to violating banking and IRS laws through a series of financial transactions centered around his sports book during the three years in question. 

    In what appeared to be a major break, he was sentenced to just one day in jail by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Savage. Savage, at a sentencing hearing in July 2014, cited Stango's age, poor health and the fact that he had no prior convictions in imposing what federal prosecutors contended was less than a slap on the wrist. In addition to one day in jail,  Stango was also ordered to forfeit $5000,000 and pay $446,990 in restitution to the IRS.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office, which was seeking a sentence of from 78 to 97 months, appealed the ruling. Last year the Third Circuit vacated the sentence and sent the case back to Savage who has yet to schedule a new sentencing hearing. 

    Stango's lawyer, Brendan McGuigan, said he will again argue that his client should not be imprisoned.

    "I don't think he deserves to do time," McGuigan said. "Who does it benefit?

    McGuigan said his client has pleaded guilty and does not deny that he made significant money during the years in question. But he said that was an aberration. 

    "This whale fell into his lap," said McGuigan.

    The story, still lacking a lot of detail, is that sometime in 2006 Stango was contacted by a big time bettor who needed someone to take his action. That bettor has never been identified. But authorities allege that over the course of the next three years the gambler wagered more than $5 million with Stango, paying with checks that Stango deposited in his own bank accounts. 

    McGuigan doesn't dispute the numbers, but says his client did not pocket all the profits. In fact, he said, Stango had to find a bigger bookmaker to whom he could "edge off" some of the action because it was larger than anything he had ever dealt with. 

    Sources say that larger bookmaker was the late Joseph "Joe Vito" Mastronardo, the gentleman gambler who died last year in prison after pleading guilty to federal gambling charges and being sentenced to 20 months in jail.

    Stango was hardly in Mastronado's league, according to his lawyer.

    "This was not a sophisticated (bookmaking operation)," McGuigan said.

    In a memo filed prior to the original sentencing hearing, McGuigan wrote Stango was "not some criminal master mind who ran a sophisticated operation." That point was underscored, he said, by the fact that Stango "accepted payment by way of documented checks by the large scale bettor, which surely no experienced, large scale bookmaker would do."  

    He also noted that only after a bank clerk alerted him, did Stango realize that making withdrawals in excess of $10,000 from a bank account would require the bank to file a report with the IRS. Systematic withdrawals of less than $10,000 to avoid those reports is known as "structuring," a form of money-laundering and the lead charge in the indictment handed up against Stango.

    That indictment, in January 2014, charged Stango with  intentionally limiting his cash withdrawals to less than $10,000 in order to circumvent banking laws and with failing to report income to the IRS.

    The numbers, built in part from Stango's records of bank deposits and withdrawals, tell the story.

    The indictment charged that in 2006 Stango took in $1,400,940 and retained $566,000. In 2007 he received $1,474,900 and retained $332,000. And in 2008 he received $2,464,700 and retained $911,000.

    The prosecution alleged that Stango made 345 cash withdrawals from various bank accounts during that period, but that the withdrawals were always between $5,000 and $10,000.

    "His criminal conduct in this case spanned years and was far from an isolated, aberrant act," wrote Potts, the prosecutor handling the case.

    "His crimes were crimes of greed," she added.

    Earlier this year Potts filed a motion asking Judge Savage to reschedule the sentencing hearing. The issue has been before him since the Appellate Court vacated the original one-day sentence last April. Potts has indicated that the prosecution will seek jail time in line with the guidelines which, depending on your interpretation of the mathematics involved, could range to from four to eight years.

    In vacating the original sentence and sending the case back to Judge Savage, a three-member appellate panel called the one-day sentence "an extraordinary downward variance" from what the court had determined was a guideline range of 63 to 78 months. It also said that Savage had failed to sufficiently explain the reasons for the significant departure.

    At the sentencing hearing, Savage had cited Stango's age and health, the fact that he had pleaded guilty and that he had accepted responsibility.

    "When I look at the factor that requires us to protect the public from the defendant's further crimes, I am convinced that this defendant will not engage in any illegal conduct in the future," Savage said. "Mr. Stango was not a drug lord who was structuring drug money. He was not at the apex of any gambling operation."

    The prosecution argued that Stango had been less than forthright in providing his own financial records and that the serious nature of the crime warranted a prison term. Those arguments as well as Stango's ongoing medical problems are expected to be at issue when the resentencing hearing is finally rescheduled.

    McGuigan described Stango as "an elderly, non-violent offender who suffers from numerous health problems."

    These include a knee replacement that has left him in pain and causes difficulty in walking. He has also been "diagnosed with blood clots, eyesight issues, deafness, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and a fractured vertebrae," McGuigan noted in a pre-sentence memo filed two years ago. "He needs numerous medications and regular, frequent doctor visits."  

    None of that has changed and Stango is now two years older as he awaits resentencing, McGuigan said. 

    Like the state of  New Jersey, Stango is awaiting a court ruling. He's facing a possible jail sentence for doing exactly what the State of New Jersey wants to do. And for what his lawyer says bookmakers throughout the region continue to do day in and day out.
    "Let me put it this way, putting Lenny Stango in jail is not going to put a dent into sports betting in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," said McGuigan.

    George Anastasia can be reached at

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  • 04/09/16--08:57: The Roundup

  • A weekly tab of what's
    going on in the courts.

    By Shealyn Kilroy

    Philadelphia District Attorney:

    Two former Philadelphia cops were scheduled for trial this week, according to the District Attorney’s office. Sean McKnight and Kevin Robinson are charged with aggravated assault, tampering with public records and other charges related to the beating of a man.

    In May 2013, McKnight and Robinson pulled over Najee Rivera, 21, in Fairhill. In early 2015, Rivera’s girlfriend brought surveillance video to police that didn't line up with the officers’ accounts of the incident. In Rivera’s testimony, he acknowledged that he was driving his scooter the wrong way on North Sixth Street but didn’t know why the officers were pulling him over. Video shows the officers Rivera off the scooter from the patrol car. The officers then got out of the police car and “threw elbows” at Rivera, striking his face on a brick wall. Rivera suffered broken eye-socket bone and stitches to numerous facial cuts.

    After the incident, Rivera lost his job at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, which the city agreed to settle for $200,000. Rivera died Dec. 20, 15 days after he was shot in a street fight at C and Somerset Streets in Kensington. The jury has not reached a verdict, and deliberations will continue Monday.

    Williams Shields is scheduled for a preliminary hearing April 5 for allegedly shooting his brother to death in Northeast Philly, according to the District Attorney’s office. Shields, 33, allegedly shot, James Stevens, 50, in the chest in Stevens' apartment on the 3100 block of Woodhaven Road. The two had gotten into an argument about Stevens yelling at the brothers’ mother, according to Action News.

    I suppose juror could not handle the truth,
    Jack Nicholson.
    A juror was dismissed in the Daniel Dougherty arson murder trial on April 6. The jury said the juror was “emotionally upset” and and started “hyperventilating, popping pills,” according to The jury also noted to the judge that the juror told others that they were “going to cause her to have a mental breakdown.” The juror, Juror No. 3, has not been identified by name in court, but she is a 65-year-old retiree from Northeast Philadelphia. Deliberations and discussions were halted until a replacement was found. The juror who is replacing Juror No. 3 is another Northeast Philadelphia woman.

    U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania: 
     A Quakertown man was indicted on April 7 for allegedly defrauding Lehigh University fraternities and sororities of more than $2.4 million, according to the
    Lehigh University
    U.S. Attorney’s office. Albert Fisher, 76, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, and five counts of subscribing to false tax returns. From 2009 to 2013, Fisher and another person, who federal officers did not identify in the release were paid to provide upkeep, food services and financial management to fraternities and sororities, but used $1.4 million of the money for his personal benefit like vacations, furniture and designer clothing. Fisher and the other person operated Fraternity Management Association but allegedly made up a consulting company, “Fisher and Associates,” in order to steal the money. During the same period, Fisher allegedly failed to file tax returns for over a half million dollars in income from FMA for his personal use. If found guilty, Fisher possibly could face a maximum of 50 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, restitution, a possible fine and a $700 special assessment.

    Cool shades Sullivan
    Former Traffic Court Judge was sentenced to 10 months in prison on April 6, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Michael Sullivan, 51, did not report and pay employee payroll taxes for the Fireside Tavern on South Marshall Street in Philadelphia, which Sullivan owned and operated. Sullivan pleaded guilty back on Oct. 20, 2015. In addition to the prison term, Sullivan was ordered to pay $58,314 in restitution and to one year of supervised release.

     New Jersey Attorney General: 
    16 have been arrested in a child porn investigation called “Operation Safeguard,” according to the Attorney General’s office. All 15 of the identified adult men, and one unidentified male juvenile, are charged with possessing and/or distributing child pornography. A video of young children being raped was discovered in the investigation. Sparta School District bus driver Eugene Triston, 55, allegedly viewed child porn on breaks between bus runs. Senior IT officer for an insurance company in Jersey City, Shaun Dooley, allegedly stored 220 files of suspected child porn on his own computer. Each defendant could face a minimum of eight years in prison, if guilty of both possession and distribution charges.

    Shealyn can be reached at

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  • 04/15/16--21:30: The Roundup
  • A weekly tab of what's
    going on in the courts.

    By Shealyn Kilroy

    Philadelphia District Attorney:

    A woman who literally inked her name on a voting machine is schedule for trial on April 12, according to the District Attorney’s office.

    Authorities received a complaint that Oxana Turketsky, 64, had written her name in ink on the voting machine at the 6900 block of Summerdale Avenue at the 53rd Ward. “Oxana Turetsky” was handwritten on the machine next to the box for “write in” candidates, police confirmed. Turetsky later admitted to writing her name on the voting machine. is charged with tampering with records, criminal mischief and tampering with voting machines.

    Turetsky’s charges were brought as part of the Election Fraud Task Force the DA’s office created in November 2014. The purpose of the force was to address voter concerns and investigate criminal activity during elections.

    Daniel Dougherty
    Daniel Dougherty was found guilty for a second time on April 12 for starting the fire that killed his two sons in 1985. After the verdict was read, Dougherty yelled at the jury, “You got it wrong!”, according to’s Jeff Gammage. The jury deliberated for 15 days, and one juror was replaced after she emotionally couldn’t take it anymore.

    Dougherty was convicted and sentenced to death in 2000. Dougherty’s sentence was reduced to life in 2012 after the ineffectiveness of Dougherty’s lawyer. A retrial was granted due to this and due to the advancements in forensic fire science that may have aided to Dougherty’s defense.

    Assistant District Attorney Jude Conroy asked the judge to immediately sentence Dougherty to two consecutive life terms. Judge J. Scott O’Keefe agreed, adding a 10-to-20-year concurrent penalty for arson. "I haven't seen this despicable of a crime in a long time,” O’Keefe said, according to Gammage.

    Robinson (top left), McKnight (bottom right), and Sawicki III.
    Three Philadelphia Police officers, two different cases, and one thing in common; the officers were acquitted. A jury acquitted former 25th District officers Sean McKnight and Kevin Robinson on April 11 in the May 2013 assault of Najee Rivera. The courtroom was filled with supporters of the officers. Edward Sawicki III was there to congratulate the officers. Sawicki III, another former officer from the 25th District, was acquitted weeks earlier of charges he used racially motivated slurs and threatened to kill an African American man in a 2013 off-duty traffic stop. While promoters of McKnight and Robinson were present in the courtroom, Rivera was not; he died in an unrelated incident in 2015.

    Pennsylvania Attorney General:
    Michael Gans
    A Northeast Philadelphia man has charged and arrested for possession of child pornography, announced the Attorney General’s office on April 12. Michael Gans, 38, of Barnett Street in Tacony was charged following an investigation that traced a child porn sharing network back to Gans’ IP address. A search warrant was executed on Gans’ residence, and authorities recovered multiple computers with suspicious files. Gans’ is charged with two counts of distribution of child pornography, 50 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. He posted 10 percent of his $25,000 bail and released from custody. A preliminary hearing is scheduled around April 21.

    U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania: 
    A California woman was indicted April 14 for interfering with a flight making it’s way to Philadelphia, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Jamie Lynne Combs, 35, of McKinleyville, California, allegedly assaulted and “intimidated” the flights’ attendants during United Airlines No. 384 from San Francisco to Philadelphia on March 18. Combs was arrested at Philadelphia International Airport, where authorities found that Combs allegedly possessed marijuana - a Schedule I controlled substance. Combs could see a prison sentence, a fine, and supervised release.
    Shealyn can be reached at

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    The bruises on Tamarcus Porter's neck
    By Ralph Cipriano

    Thanks to some grandstanding from the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the state attorney general's office has announced it will review the now-legendary Feb. 7th fight at the Recess Lounge.

    On April 4th, District Attorney Seth Williams, backed by a choir of four assistant district attorneys, announced that no charges would be filed against LeSean McCoy or any of his friends because of insufficient evidence. But then John McNesby, the FOP president, sent an incendiary letter to the state attorney general.

    According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, McNesby in his letter to the attorney general described the D.A.'s decision not to prosecute as "an outrageous cover-up and dereliction of duty by a public official." McNesby, according to the Inquirer, also said that the only reason D.A. Williams let McCoy off the hook was "because McCoy is a prominent professional athlete." [But maybe the photo on the right also had something to do with it.]

    "I think it's completely accurate to say LeSean McCoy and anyone else allegedly involved in this incident are not totally cleared," Bruce Castor, the state's solicitor general, told Walt Hunter of CBS Eyewitness News. The state attorney general isn't the only party that plans to investigate the fight at the Recess Lounge. The NFL Players Association is also expected to investigate as well.

    McCoy's attorney, Dennis Cogan, didn't seem too worried. He said that he has a high regard for
    Bruce Castor's professionalism and was confident that Castor would find no abuse of discretion by the D.A. in his decision not to prosecute.

    Shady McCoy "is in the clear because he did nothing wrong," Cogan said.

    "They've spent a tremendous amount of time and public resources investigating a barroom fight," said Cogan, who described the D.A.'s investigation of the incident at the Recess Lounge as "almost unprecedented."

    "They interviewed 27 witnesses," Cogan said of the D.A.'s nine-week investigation. "Their conclusions coincide with ours. Shady didn't start the fight. He didn't continue the fight. What he did for a matter of seconds was he tried to break it up."

    Officer Roland Butler "had his hands around" Tamarcus Porter's neck, Cogan said. What was McCoy supposed to do when, according to witnesses, he saw the huge Officer Butler on the ground on top of Porter with his hands around Porter's neck, Cogan said.

    Chuck Ardo, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said there was no time table set for the review.

    "I can't tell you exactly how long it will take," he said. "They have to interview witnesses for however long it takes."

    Castor told Eyewitness News that actions to reverse prosecutors' decisions are rare, require overwhelming evidence and would have to approved by a judge.

    A spokesperson for the NFL Players Association did not respond to requests for comment.

    McNesby has been on the warpath over the Recess Lounge fight because it resulted in serious injuries for two off-duty officers, Butler and Darnell Jessie. But those officers, according to witnesses interviewed by both investigators for Cogan and the D.A., had been drinking earlier in the night. Witnesses also described Officer and Butler to Cogan and the D.A. as the aggressor, both inside and outside the club.

    In addition, the officers did not call 911, the protocol for when a cop is involved in an off-duty altercation. The two officers also sought treatment for their wounds outside the city, after declining medical attention at the Recess Lounge, and also declining to press charges.

    "McNesby does these officers no favors by perpetuating this stuff," Cogan said about the fight at the Recess Lounge. "He doesn't know the facts of the case. He keeps pretending that the actions of these off-duty officers, as described by witness accounts, are representative of the department," Cogan said, which is an insult to the rest of the city's cops.

    McNesby, who told Eyewitness News, "There's a lot about this case that isn't known," could not be reached for comment.

    McNesby also told reporters that no city police officer would be voting in the future for Seth Williams.

    Cogan, a former assistant district attorney, took issue with that statement as well.

    "I don't know how he has been able to conduct such a poll," Cogan said about McNesby. "The day after Williams' announcement a half-dozen or so police officers gave me a thumb's up when I walked into the Criminal Justice Center."

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