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Articles on this Page
- 02/07/17--14:10: _Did Sex Scandal For...
- 02/10/17--06:45: _D.A. Seth Williams ...
- 02/10/17--09:26: _Newsweek: Philly D....
- 02/11/17--10:08: _Our Corrupt D.A. An...
- 02/13/17--09:04: _The Cops, The D.A.,...
- 02/14/17--09:46: _D.A.'s Office Under...
- 02/14/17--10:27: _Did Seth Spend Vale...
- 02/14/17--12:52: _The Cop Who Took Do...
- 02/17/17--14:29: _Missing In Domestic...
- 02/18/17--03:45: _D.A.'s Office To St...
- 02/20/17--05:05: _Shame Of The City: ...
- 03/01/17--14:27: _Seth Williams Barre...
- 03/02/17--06:47: _A Quiet End To A Vi...
- 03/08/17--09:27: _Shroud Of Secrecy D...
- 03/08/17--14:39: _The FBI Agent Who T...
- 03/12/17--09:16: _That Liberal Media ...
- 03/13/17--13:34: _FBI Exonerated Form...
- 03/21/17--19:57: _How Bad Case Law Ma...
- 03/22/17--03:18: _Feds: D.A. Rufus Se...
- 03/22/17--17:52: _Curley And Schultz ...
- 02/07/17--14:10: Did Sex Scandal Force Police Watchdog Kelvyn Anderson Out?
- 02/10/17--06:45: D.A. Seth Williams Not Running For Reelection
- 02/10/17--09:26: Newsweek: Philly D.A. Declined To Prosecute "Iron-Clad" Cases
- 02/11/17--10:08: Our Corrupt D.A. And Four "Truly Innocent" Men That He Put In Jail
- 02/13/17--09:04: The Cops, The D.A., And That South Philly Bank Job
- 02/14/17--09:46: D.A.'s Office Under Seth Williams Won't Prosecute Domestic Violence
- 02/14/17--10:27: Did Seth Spend Valentine's Day With The Feds?
- 02/14/17--12:52: The Cop Who Took Down The Mob
- 02/17/17--14:29: Missing In Domestic Abuse Case: "A Chunk Of Her HaIr"
- 02/18/17--03:45: D.A.'s Office To Start Charging More Domestic Violence Suspects
- 02/20/17--05:05: Shame Of The City: Rufus Seth Williams, Our Lawless D.A.
- 03/01/17--14:27: Seth Williams Barred From Union League
- 03/08/17--09:27: Shroud Of Secrecy Descends Over Long-Running Msgr. Lynn Case
- 03/08/17--14:39: The FBI Agent Who Tipped An Inquirer Reporter
- 03/12/17--09:16: That Liberal Media Bubble
- 03/13/17--13:34: FBI Exonerated Former PSU President Spanier; Found No Cover-Up
- 03/21/17--19:57: How Bad Case Law Made In Philly Came Back to Haunt Graham Spanier
He gained a reputation as a reformer and a watchdog while investigating allegations of police misconduct. But did his own misconduct, in the form of an alleged sex scandal, force Kelyvn Anderson out of office?
Anderson, the executive director of Police Advisory Commission, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, resigned last week.
His departure was first reported on Feb. 2 by news works.org. In the story, where Anderson was hailed as a "longtime reformer," he explained that he was "leaving to pursue opportunities for consulting around police and community issues."
Later that same day, Anderson told The Philadelphia Inquirer that a recent executive order from Mayor Jim Kenney broadening the commission's duties had provided "the right opportunity for a new leader to step in," the newspaper reported.
But knowledgable sources tell a different story --- that Anderson's departure from office was proceeded by an investigation of the Police Department's Special Victims Unit. An investigation into allegations that Anderson had a sexual relationship with a woman who was appealing a police misconduct case against officers in the Northeast Detectives Division.
According to sources, the woman went to see Anderson to protest her complaint of police misconduct, which was determined by Internal Affairs to be unfounded. The two allegedly began a sexual relationship in exchange for Anderson allegedly getting those misconduct complaints reinstated.
When the woman supposedly decided that Anderson had defaulted on that promise, she went to see the District Attorney's Office, who sent her to the Special Victims Unit. When asked for proof of an affair, the woman supposedly showed the cops text messages on her cell phone from Anderson, sources say.
When the cops called Anderson on the woman's cell phone, he declined to talk until he consulted his lawyer.
The investigation into the woman's claims, however, supposedly ended with a call from a top official in the Philadelphia District Attorney's office, who allegedly instructed SVU to shut down the investigation of Anderson.
A spokesman for the D.A. denied that charge.
"The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office does not discuss its investigations, including investigations done by the Philadelphia Police Department's Special Victims Unit," wrote Cameron Kline, a spokesman for District Attorney Seth Williams in an email.
"The office does not go into details about our charging decisions and we certainly do not 'shut down' investigations," Kline wrote. "Each charging decision is made on the evidence, and with the highest prosecutorial standards."
A Philadelphia Police Department spokesperson responded to a request for comment by saying, "Contact Mr. Anderson for the reason of his resignation."
That hasn't been easy.
Anderson did not return phone messages seeking comment. At his old office, Edwin Pace, a special investigator for the Police Advisory Commission, said that Anderson "moved on for advancement in his career."
When asked about allegations of a sex scandal, Pace replied, "I really have no knowledge about that, sir."
Anderson, who has been executive director of the Police Advisory Commission since 2013, was "a top watchdog for the department as it made significant changes to its use of force policies and began a pilot program for body camera use, among other initiatives," the Inquirer reported.
Mike Dunn, a spokesman for Mayor Kenney, was quoted in both the Newsworks and Inquirer stories about Kenney's search for a replacement for Anderson, would not come to the phone when Big Trial called for comment last week.
Instead, Dunn referred a request for comment about Andereson's departure to another Kenney spokesperson, Lauren Hitt. This is called passing the buck. Hitt did not respond to calls and emails, and is presumably still hiding under her desk over at City Hall.
Ralph Cipriano can be reached at email@example.com.
By Ralph Cipriano
District Attorney R. Seth Williams is expected to announce this morning that he will not run for reelection.
The city's first African American District Attorney, elected in 2009, will say that he's decided not to run for a third-term in the May primary against five already declared opponents, with probably more on the way.
The D.A. has called a 10 a.m. press conference at his office to make an "important announcement." Several sources have confirmed that's he's going to say that he's not running. There was speculation from informed sources that Williams may be trying to get out ahead of a federal indictment that may come as early as Tuesday.
There was a truly cringe-worthy moment at Seth Williams' press conference on Friday where the teary D.A. announced that he wouldn't seek a third term in office.
It came when Williams was talking about his many alleged accomplishments that included the "enhancement of our Conviction Review Unit."
In case you missed it, the D.A.'s office has an entire squad whose mission is, in the words of Williams, "to ensure that we do all that we can to exonerate the truly innocent."
"So that not one Philadelphian spends a day in prison if they shouldn't," Williams said.
Unbelievable words coming from this guy, on this day.
Well, the D.A.'s Conviction Review Unit doesn't have to look far to find the "truly innocent." There are three truly innocent men right now that the D.A.'s squad can get started on freeing. We can begin with Msgr. William J. Lynn and former Catholic schoolteacher Bernard Shero.
Well, they may have a point.
Lynn, of course, tells a different story. One of his early official acts as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy in 1994, was to go through more than 300 of the church's "secret archive files" to compile a list of 35 abusive priests then currently in ministry.
Lynn, the new guy on the job, took it upon himself to figure out who the bad guys were on his new beat. Then he promptly took that list to the late Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua. The monsignor may have expected a pat on the head for his good work in getting out ahead on the sex abuse scandal that was about to hit the Catholic Church, beginning in Boston, and subsequently spreading to Philadelphia.
But the wily cardinal, who was both a canon and a civil lawyer, knew the legal implications of that list, namely that the Catholic Church was guilty as sin for keeping those known abusers on the payroll. So, the cardinal met in private with three bishops. Two of them, the Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, bishop of Saginaw, MI., and the Rev. Edward P. Cullen, bishop emeritus of Allentown, PA, are still at large. Then, the cardinal gave the order to shred the list.
A lot of people would like to forget that.
Some people also have a problem putting the words "Ed Avery" and "innocent" in the same sentence. Because Avery had a history of at least one known prior incident involving the molestation of a teenager.
I get that too.
But, going by the law, Lynn, Shero and even Avery are truly innocent of the crimes that Seth Williams put them in jail for. Because, as we now know, those crimes never happened. They were only figments in the imagination of a demented former altar boy turned heroin addict named Daniel Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe," who, at the time, was scheming to figure a way out of jail.
Little did Gallagher know that the false tales of rape that he concocted were music to the ears of Seth Williams and the prosecutors who worked for him. Because they fit precisely into the statute of limitations for sex abuse victims.
Or that those out-and-out lies would lead to the white-washing of Gallagher's criminal record. And a pot of gold, in the form of a $5 million civil settlement secretly approved by Archbishop Charles J. "Checkbook Charlie" Chaput.
But now we know that Gallagher's stories were lies, that the series of violent rapes imagined by Gallagher never happened, and that the district attorney's entire prosecution of the church was a complete fraud from day one.
How do we know this?
We have two forensic psychiatrists who interviewed Gallagher for hours and went over his copious medical records from some 28 doctors, hospitals and rehabs. One of those shrinks concluded that all of Gallagher's claims of alleged injuries, both physical and psychic, were disproven by his medical records.
We know from both psychiatrists that Gallagher admitted that he told many lies, including many tales of alleged child abuse when he was a kid. He also falsely told the shrinks he was a former professional surfer, emergency medical technician, and that he once weighed at least hundred pounds more than he did.
Last month, retired detective Joseph Walsh, the man who led the D.A.'s own investigation into the Billy Doe case, took the witness stand to testify that when he repeatedly questioned Gallagher about all the contradictions and factual consistencies in his many fables of abuse, that Gallagher either said nothing and put his head down, or claimed he was high on drugs.
We know when Gallagher was deposed in his civil case, he explained those inconsistencies by saying he couldn't remember more than 130 times.
Today, we have every reason to believe that Danny Gallagher is a liar. We have every reason to believe that the D.A. who put Gallagher on that witness stand is a dishonest liar himself, and possibly a future felon on his way to jail.
And we have the word of former Detective Walsh that when he told all of the factual inconsistencies to the prosecutor handling the case, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, a true zealot blinded by her own hatred of the church, she replied that Walsh was killing her case with the truth.
On Monday, somebody in the D.A.'s Conviction Review Unit should call off the retrial of Msgr. Lynn, scheduled for May.
Somebody in the D.A.'s Conviction Review Unit should help get Bernie Shero out of jail, where he's now serving an 8 to 16 year jail term for an imaginary rape of Danny Gallagher.
Even Ed Avery deserves to get out of jail, where he is now doing 2 1/2 to 5 years for an imaginary rape of Danny Gallagher.
|Father Charles Engelhardt|
But the D.A.'s office, even at this late date, should apologize to Engelhardt's family for the heinous crime they committed against a "truly innocent" man. And then the D.A.'s office could go about helping Engelhardt's religious order, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, in their campaign to posthumously clear Engelhardt's name.
The only reason Seth Williams crucified these four men was for the advancement of his political career.
But now that career is over.
It would truly be an act of justice for a man who has perverted it for so long, to right these wrongs now.
And if he won't do it, somebody else over at the D.A.'s office should.
So the truth can set everyone free.
Everybody agrees that on the morning of Sept. 30, 2016, the police caught Kenneth D. Dixon, 20, of West Philadelphia, inside a Bank of America branch at 23rd and Oregon in South Philadelphia.
Since Dixon was arrested inside the bank at 7:38 a.m., at a time when the bank was closed, it's safe to assume that Dixon let himself in.
The cops thought Dixon was guilty of burglary. That's because they were notified by bank security before they arrived at the scene of the crime that a suspect had been captured on a video camera "attempting to gain access to the vault” and “tampering’ with an ATM machine, according to police records.
As Deputy District Attorney Michael Barry explained in an interview last week, the cops didn't personally witness Dixon trying to break into the vault or tampering with the ATM. They only witnessed that Dixon was inside the bank at a time when it was closed, so that the cops could only prove that Dixon was guilty of trespassing.
What happened next with the bank job is a bizarre tale of how criminal justice in Philadelphia is carried out under the reign of our now admittedly corrupt District Attorney Seth Williams. This is a guy who would be doing everyone in the city a favor by finishing the job he started on Friday, when he announced he wouldn't seek a third term in a May 16th Democratic primary, by resigning from office today.
Hedrick instructed the cops to "please obtain statements from responding officers/bank employees" and any other witnesses prior to resubmitting their paperwork to obtain an affidavit of probable cause.
To a bystander, the district attorney's office here seems to be behaving like a defense attorney at a pretrial hearing, arguing to the judge why his guy deserves bail. You have to wonder when the cops have a would-be bank robber in custody, a guy they caught red-handed inside the bank, why the D.A.'s office is acting as an adversary here.
No wonder the Fraternal Order of Police went on the radio in recent weeks advertising, “Attention, help wanted immediately in the city of Philadelphia . . . Philadelphia needs an honest open and fair district attorney to lead the city immediately,” someone who is willing to “work openly and fairly with the Philadelphia police department and the community.”
Here's what happened next. Three days later, on Oct. 3, 2016, this reporter mentioned the bank job in a blog post that was highly critical of the DA's office.
In that Oct. 3 post, I was writing about the D.A.'s lame attempts to explain away their decision to overturn the convictions of more than 800 drug dealers. The two in question that I was writing about, a couple of convicted drug dealers named Mohammed and the Fatboy, were caught red-handed with 225 pounds of marijuana worth more than $2 million. Here's what I wrote:
Relations between the police force and the D.A.'s office are so bad these days, [FOP President John] McNesby said, "You have to have an act of Congress to get someone arrested." Every day, McNesby says, he hears complaints from detectives that "They're not approving arrest warrants" at the D.A.'s office unless you have an "airtight, 100 percent case."
To underscore what McNesby is talking about, this weekend, according to a knowledgable law enforcement source, a couple of cops caught a suspect red-handed inside a Bank of America branch at 23rd and Oregon after the suspect had broken in. The bank had surveillance photos of the guy trying to open the vault.
But the district attorney's office declined to prosecute the case because there was no video of the break-in and the officers were the only witnesses.
That's how bad things are in Philadelphia, under the administration of D.A. Seth Williams. Maybe drug dealing isn't the only crime legalized by the district attorney's office. Bank robbery could be next.
Meanwhile, McNesby says about the D.A.'s office's recent holiday for drug dealers, "You just let 800 people hit the lottery."
Four days after I wrote that blog post, on Oct. 7, 2016, the D.A.'s Office promptly reversed course and arrested Dixon on charges of burglary, defiant trespass and theft.
I asked Cameron Kline, the spokesperson for the D.A., if the publicity had anything to do with the D.A. arresting Dixon.
His response, written in an email: "About Dixon, the short answer is that 'publicity' had nothing to do with the decision to charge. PPD [Philadelphia Police Department] did the work and we charged it. "
But as far as the cops were concerned, there's no happy ending to the story of the bank job.
Bank robbery and drug dealing aren't the only crimes that Seth Williams has decriminalized during his reign as D.A. Every day, according to their own statistics, the D.A.'s office declines to charge almost four crimes a day.
Many of those crimes involve domestic violence and so called "stranger robberies" where the victim doesn't know the perpetrator.
Over the next couple of days, I'm going to report on some of those cases where the D.A.'s office has declined to charge suspects. To make a long story short, you can get shot or stabbed in Philadelphia, and the cops can know who did the deed, but this D.A. won't file charges.
Or you can know who robbed you, and in some cases, actually lead the cops to the guy who robbed you, so the cops can find some of the stuff he took from you.
And this D.A.'s office won't file charges.
In the course of reporting a story I wrote for Newsweek last week about Seth Williams, I spoke to a criminologist with Philadelphia ties told me that he’s baffled by what’s going on between the cops and the D.A.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Sean Patrick Griffin, a former Philadelphia cop who is an author, as well as a professor and department head of Criminal Justice at The Citadel, in Charleston, S.C.
What's really unbelievable is that the D.A., who went before the media on Friday and admitted he was corrupt, and was taking money and gifts from people all over town, is still in office as the city's top prosecutor.
Hey Seth, time to do everybody a favor and resign in disgrace.
Cohen then allegedly used the strings from the hat to strangle the victim “to a point where she could not breathe or scream,” according to a police affidavit of probable cause.
"She struggled with Cohen," the affidavit says, until he "let go and left the premises." Cohen had also gone on Facebook and made “threatening posts” against the victim, according to the affidavit.
The D.A.'s office told the police they needed to obtain photos of the victim's injuries, a copy of the defendant’s phone records and his voice mails. The D.A.'s office also wanted to know if there were any witnesses at the bar who may have seen the incident.
The district attorney's office declined to discuss the case.
The cops say that many of the cases that the D.A.'s office under Seth Williams has declined to prosecute involve domestic violence, typically involving women. But in Philadelphia, when men are the victims of domestic violence, the result is often the same; this D.A. won’t press charges.
Take a three day period last December, where the D.A. declined to charge three different suspects in three different domestic violence cases.
Gilliam’s wife, Kanem Gilliam, 45, of Yeadon, PA, subsequently confessed to police that she shot her husband with a .38 special revolver that she kept in her bedroom.
The video of the shooting incident was “very unclear,” an assistant D.A. stated. The assistant D.A. also asked the cops to obtain the wife’s phone records.
The D.A.'s office declined to discuss the case.
The D.A.'s office declined to discuss the case.
The district attorney’s office, however, declined to discuss the case.
Cops will tell you that the reason this D.A. 's office wouldn't charge anything but a slam-dunk case was that Seth Williams was trying to pad his statistics for the May 16th Democratic primary, so he could show voters a lower crime rate and a higher conviction rate.
"We understand there is an election going on but it really doesn’t affect what we’re doing," Barry said before his boss announced last week that he wouldn't seek a third term.
Reports swept through the city today regarding Seth Williams and the feds.
The first reports involved the feds allegedly escorting Williams out of the D.A.'s office early this morning. Next, the D.A. was seen at the federal courthouse at 6th and Market.
Meanwhile, a crowd of reporters and TV camera crews gathered outside the D.A.'s office, as if they were expecting some sort of announcement.
Williams had already announced last Friday that he wouldn't seek a third term as D.A. in the May 16th Democratic primary because of ethical violations. He was fined $62,000 by the city's Ethics Board for accepting $175,000 in undeclared gifts and income. A federal grand jury is known to be probing those gifts and income, to find out whether they were quid pro quos. There was also a question of whether Williams reported those gifts and income to the IRS, which would amount to further troubles for our beleaguered D.A.
At philadelinquency.com, Master Blaster wrote, "Is today the day of the big indictment? . . . I think we're going to find out real soon why Rufus (that's his real name) decided to hang it up and not run for reelection."
But by late afternoon, there were no announcements forthcoming as the Seth Williams death watch continued. For further evidence of why our corrupt D.A. should resign from office immediately, please read the story posted below.
By George Anastasia
He grew up in North Jersey.
He could have been a wise guy.
Instead, he became a cop.
And spent his career building cases that destroyed the mob.
Read the full story here:
The victim, a 36-year-old female, was shaking and crying when the police showed up.
She told the cops she had been arguing with her boyfriend when he "grabbed her and ripped out a chunk of her hair," police records state.
"Police noticed a chunk of hair missing from the center of complainant's head," the records state. So on Nov. 20, 2016, police drove to a home in Germantown where the crime had allegedly occurred and found Corey Richardson, 40, in the upstairs bedroom "along with the chunk of missing hair" thrown on the floor.
The cops arrested Richardson, and submitted an affidavit of probable cause to the D.A.'s office. An open and shut case of domestic violence? Not when D.A. Seth Williams'"Smart on Crime" charging unit is on duty.
On Nov. 21, 2016, the D.A. declined to prosecute the suspect because the victim had not given a statement. Even though the cops protested that the information contained in the officer's statement was sufficient to charge the suspect.
Richardson, however, a career criminal with a history of violent acts, was never charged for assaulting his girlfriend.
Richardson's rap sheet includes one bust for theft, for which he got probation. And four narcotic busts for which he got the following sentences: three years in jail,11 1./2 to 23 months in jail; 7 to 14 months in jail; and 6 to 23 month in jail.
In jail, Richardson picked up two more arrests when he was charged in two different assaults on fellow prisoners. He was sentenced to one to three additional years in prison for each of the two incidents.
But in the domestic violence case involving his girlfriend, Richardson got off scot free.
In Philadelphia, records show, the D.A.'s office often does not charge suspects in domestic violence incidents where the victim won't give a statement. In cases, however, where the police see evidence of abuse, and they know who did it, the cops say they are supposed to arrest the suspect. And, according to state law, the D.A.'s office should be charging those suspects, because in those cases, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can act as the complainant.
But that's not what happens in Philadelphia.
On Nov. 15, 2016, police showed up at a domestic violence related incident and found a woman "on the ground unconscious." A short distance away, the police found William Newton.
After the police took Newtown into custody, "the defendant stated that he and the victim had an altercation and he punched her." The victim, however, "was uncooperative and refused to give a statement."
The cops wanted the D.A. to charge Newton. However, Assistant District Attorney Richard J. Boyd wrote that "the defendant's statement isn't sufficient to show how the altercation/fight occurred."
"If in the future, the victim gives a statement as to what happened, we can review the statement at that time to determine if charges are warranted," Boyd wrote.
Newton was never charged for the incident, police records show.
The D.A. frequently denies these kinds of claims in domestic abuse cases where the victim is uncooperative. Such as:
-- On Nov. 30, 2016,the police had a domestic violence case where the victim, a woman, was strangled until rendered unconscious. The woman gave police a statement saying what happened.
"The officers observe bruising on her neck and the house is in disarray," police records said. So the police arrested a suspect, Tyquan Tyson, and submitted an application to the D.A.'s office for an affidavit of probable cause.
But later that same day, Assistant District Attorney Helen Park wrote, "After much consideration, I am declining charges for the above individual due to the fact that the complainant, who was strangled, refused to sign her statement and indicated that she did not want to press charges"
"The evidence for an excited utterance through police officer testimony is weak at best, and not likely to be admitted, leaving us with little ability to prove the case," Park wrote. "My decision is thus based not on credibility but simply on the unfortunate insufficiency of the evidence."
"If the complainant becomes cooperative in the future and provides more information about the friend that she called to come and pick her up, or additional evidence becomes available, please re-submit this case as an affidavit," she wrote.
"She says she stabbed her husband once in the shoulder," the police report said. "She tells them that they were arguing and it became physical and she stabbed her husband because he is larger than she is."
The case was turned down for charging because it "basically, appears to be a self-defense claim," ADA Amanda L. Hedrick wrote. "This is completely unrefuted" because the victim "refused to cooperate even on the scene and later would not give a statement to police."
-- On Dec. 29, 2016, ADA Boyd declined to arrest a suspect in a domestic violence incident even though, he noted, "the defendant did stab the victim.
"The reason for the declination is that the victim is not cooperating and refused to give a statement," Boyd wrote. "The defendant admitted to stabbing the victim but claims self defense. Lastly, there is an independent witness who sees the victim push the defendant into the house just before the stabbing."
"For these reasons, I am declining to approve charges as we cannot prove what happened and there is evidence of self-defense."
In an abrupt about-face, the beleaguered District Attorney's Office has decided to start charging more suspects in domestic violence cases, even if the victim declines to make a statement.
The D.A.'s office has been criticized privately by police for years for not following state law in charging suspects in domestic violence cases when the police observe injuries and know who the perpetrator is, with or without a victim's statement.
The D.A.'s about face, laid out in a leaked email exchange and a new policy statement, comes after a tumultuous few weeks where a Newsweek article featured the president of the local Fraternal Order of Police blasting D.A. Seth Williams for refusing to charge "iron-clad" cases.
The hundreds of cases declined by the D.A.'s office for charging included an embarrassing attempted bank robbery, where police caught a suspect inside the bank red-handed trying to break into a vault and tampering with an ATM machine. Even though the cops had stills from a security camera video showing what the suspect was up to, and a written account of the incident from a bank security official, plus a pending full security video coming from the bank in just three days, the D.A.'s office refused to charge the suspect.
A national audience of Newsweek readers was treated to the shocking spectacle of a large urban police department where the local cops union was renting a half-dozen billboards, putting up hundreds of lawn signs and going on the radio to run a "help wanted" campaign seeking a new D.A.
The same day the Newsweek story was published, a teary-eyed and self-pitying Seth Williams, announced he wouldn't seek a third term in a May Democratic primary because he had been caught red-handed accepting $175,000 in undisclosed cash and gifts, a subject under active study by a federal grand jury that's due to expire in two weeks.
The embarrassing bank job caper where the D.A. wouldn't charge the suspect was followed by tales of several incidents of domestic abuse, where the D.A.'s office, faced with the spectacle of a battered victim with genuine injuries observed by the police, and a suspect in custody, declined in case after case to charge the suspects.
The Big Trial stories featured a steady stream of embarrassing internal police reports and so-called "declination forms" from the D.A.'s office, where the D.A., contrary to state law, was declining to charge suspects in case after case, despite real harm inflicted on victims.
But all that changed on Thursday night at 5:50 p.m. That's when Deputy District Attorney Michael Barry sent an-email to three senior police officials, an email copied to a couple of officials in the D.A.'s Office, about changes in prosecuting "intimate partner violence cases."
In his email, Barry told the police he was issuing his new policy directive so he could make his ADAs in the charging unit in a position where "they feel more comfortable charging difficult cases."
Seriously. In a city filled with bleeding victims of domestic violence, the officials in the D.A.'s office need a new policy directive from their boss so when they follow state law they can "feel more comfortable charging difficult cases."
Here's what the email said:
To that end, tomorrow I will be distributing the attached memo to all chargers. Our hope is that it will give them more specific guidance as to factors to consider when deciding whether to charge an IPV case, and put them in a position where they feel more comfortable charging difficult cases. Our goal is to decrease the number of IPV cases that get declined, and to eliminate unnecessary declinations. At this point, we are instructing the chargers that this memo applies only to live arrests, not Arrest Warrants. We will work to expand it to warrants in the future.
Thanks as always for your assistance, and if there is anything I can do to help with this or any other issue, please always feel free to reach out.
Reacting to the email, James Kelly III, chief inspector of the police detective bureau, urged all police commanders to distribute Barry's email and the new policy directive to all "investigative personnel."
Michael BarryDeputy, Pretrial Division
Kelly's email stated:
In the new policy directive, Deputy District Attorney Barry wrote:As we have done in the past and will continue to do, you will instruct your investigators to do all they can related to a domestic violence investigations to see to it that the victim is given service. Your investigators will ensure that before an officer leaves the investigative unit, all has been properly done and/or required to document the facts of the case as related to the Domestic Violence laws. Such as, but not limited to; a proper interview of the officer especially where there is a victim who has obvious signs of injury and either refuses to cooperate or is in fear of his/her life if they cooperate. The officer's documented statement of his/her individual observations as well as excited utterances by the offender or victim will assist in the prosecution of the offender when faced with a reluctant victim.
Through our own internal reviews and our communication with the police department and FVSA Unit, we have noticed that Intimate Partner Violencearrests makes up a notable portion of our declinations. Significantly, a very large percentage of these declinations were based (most often properly) on a failure to get a statement from the victim, either due to their unwillingness or unavailability. As with all things, we strive to improve our handling and review of these cases and meet our Unit and the Office’s mission to protect victims of violence and hold offenders accountable.
In cases without victim statements closely evaluate all other evidence, including specifically:
Finally, do not decline a case for the failure of a detective to subpoena phone, medical or other records if there is already evidence sufficient to form probable cause. If the case is sufficient for charging, approve it and request follow up investigation via email. If necessary, the Trial Division will take responsibility for those materials.
|Our contrite D.A. announcing he won't run again|
Last week, our beleaguered District Attorney R. Seth Williams gave a brief defense of his time in office as the city's top prosecutor.
"Look, I've made some mistakes," Williams told Inquirer political columnist Chris Brennan, but "I was a great D.A. in terms of what we did internally" in changing how the office operates.
Allow me to state an alternative theory: Williams did institute some far-reaching changes at the D.A.'s office, but it wasn't for the better. With three big decisions he made during his eight-year tenure, Williams stepped into the middle of public controversies and placed his own personal political ambitions above the law, with disastrous consequences.
The sins of Seth Williams have put innocent men in jail, and allowed 852 convicted drug dealers and hundreds, possibly thousands of domestic abusers and other criminals to go free. The sins of Seth Williams have perverted truth and justice, wreaked havoc upon the citizens he was sworn to protect, and will ultimately cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Round One -- the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
|Seth in happier times|
In this case, Williams was following groundbreaking work done by his predecessor in office, former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, and a 2005 grand jury report she oversaw on sex abuse committed by priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Th 2005 grand jury report enraged the city by documenting the sins of 63 priests who had raped and molested hundreds of innocent children. But because of a successful coverup masterminded over decades by a couple of former archbishops, Anthony Bevilacqua and John Krol, all those guilty priests escaped punishment because their covered up crimes no longer fell within the statute of limitations.
While others saw a tragedy in the shame of the church, Seth Williams saw a political opportunity to exploit.
If he could put a member of the Catholic hierarchy in jail for the coverup, Williams figured, he could be elected mayor or governor. So he targeted Msgr. William J. Lynn, Cardinal Bevilacqua's yes-man who as the archdiocese's secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, was responsible for overseeing abusive priests.
But there were two problems with the prosecution of Lynn. First, the state's original 1972 child endangerment law clearly didn't apply to supervisors such as Lynn. Instead, the law applied only to people who had direct contact with children, such as parents, guardians and teachers.
Lynne Abraham and a grand jury had open stated this in the 2005 grand jury report, to explain why they couldn't charge Msgr. Lynn and other officials in the archdiocese, including Cardinal Bevilacqua, with child endangerment. Then, Abraham led a state-wide campaign to reform the child endangerment law so that it would include supervisors such as Lynn. The state legislature complied by amending the law in 2007 to include supervisors.
|The D.A. who staged a "historic" prosecution of the church|
So what did D.A. Williams do? He said when political gain is concerned, the law be damned. And then he went ahead and indicted Msgr. Lynn for endangering the welfare of a child under a law that clearly didn't apply to him.
To do that, the D.A. had to ignore the stated conclusions of D.A. Abraham and the 2005 grand jury report, as well as the actions of the state Legislature, which had amended the child endangerment law to include supervisors. And the D.A. did it without ever explaining why.
The D.A.'s second problem with the Msgr. Lynn prosecution was that he needed a victim whose sex abuse fell within the statute of limitations, so he could prosecute the monsignor for endangering the welfare of a child. He found his victim in Danny Gallagher, AKA Billy Doe.
To make prosecutorial history, the D.A. didn't care whether Gallagher, a mentally unstable heroin addict, made up a patently ridiculous tale about a series of violent rapes, with endless factual inconsistencies and blatant contradictions. It was a series of fables that contradicted the usual pattern of sexual abuse, as documented in thousands of pages in the archdiocese's secret archives, a once secret history of sexual abuse by the clergy that was pried loose from an archdiocese safe by multiple subpoenas from D.A. Abraham's office.
Missing from Danny Gallagher's fables was the usual pattern of sex abuse in the archdiocese. There was no "grooming" of the victim by abusers showering Danny Gallagher with presents, attention, etc. In Gallagher's made-up stories, he and his family barely knew his attackers.
Another contrast between the secret history of sex abuse in the archdiocese and the fables told by Danny Gallager was flagged early on by Jack Rossiter, a former FBI agent hired by the archdiocese to investigate claims of sex abuse. The alleged abusers in the Billy Doe case barely knew each other. Yet, according to the story line advanced by Gallagher and the D.A., the abusers somehow trusted each other enough in a sinister conspiracy to pass around a child rape victim, Billy Doe, like a piñata. As Rossiter told the archdiocese, he had never seen this happen in sex abuse cases with two abusers, let alone three.
More proof that Danny Gallagher was a fraud: for a year, his file gathered dust at the D.A.'s office while Abraham was still the incumbent. At a time when Abraham and her staff were scouring the Commonwealth for a victim whose abuse fell within the statute of limitations, so they could prosecute the church. The only reason that Gallagher's complaint wasn't thrown in the trash while Abraham was D.A., I am told, was because Gallagher's father had political pull because he was a Philadelphia police sergeant.
To make the Billy Doe story work, the D.A.'s office in that 2011 grand jury report, also had to rewrite grand jury witness testimony to conform to bogus story lines.
The upshot: Lynne Abraham's 2005 grand jury report was factually checked and double checked by her staff of senior prosecutors so it withstood the scrutiny of a team of lawyers hired by the archdiocese to refute it. The critics of that 2005 grand jury report never found a single factual mistake that I am aware of. Meanwhile, the 2011 grand jury put out by Seth Williams was so shoddy that this blogger found more than 20 factual mistakes in it. Mistakes that the office of Seth Williams has for five straight years refused to explain or correct.
Seth Williams was right, however, about his political calculations. After he hung the monsignor out to dry, with the full cooperation of a gullible press, Williams was the subject of fawning national media coverage for being the first prosecutor in the country to lock up a member of the Catholic hierarchy for jail for helping to cover up sex abuse.
Maureen Dowd of The New York Times hailed Williams, raised Catholic, as the "avenging altar boy." Sabrina Rubin Erdely described Billy Doe in Rolling Stone as "a sweet, gentle kid with boyish good looks" before she turned her attention to another alleged victim of gang rape named Jackie.
What were the consequences of Seth Williams' lawless actions? Three priests and a Catholic school teacher were sent to jail for imaginary crimes, and one of those priests died there. After an appeals court twice overturned Msgr. Lynn's conviction, D.A. Williams insists on retrying the case, even though Msgr. Lynn has served 33 of 36 months of his mandatory sentence, plus 18 months of house arrest. The retrial is scheduled for May.
Walsh testified to a Common Pleas Court judge last month about how he repeatedly told a prosecutor in the case, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, about all the factual inconsistencies, and how his investigation had repeatedly revealed that Danny Gallagher was a liar.
But Sorensen, according to Walsh, refused to do anything about it, saying, "You're killing my case."
That's on Seth, the sins of his so-called signature accomplishment. And when it came time for the D.A. to refute Detective Walsh's words by putting former ADA Mariana Sorensen on the witness stand, she was nowhere to be found.
Round Two --- Being "Smart On Crime"
The next big crime committed by D.A. Williams occurred when he decided he was going to capitalize on publicity over his predecessor in office's low conviction rate by being "smart on crime."
Once again, Williams was stepping into a public controversy to exploit it. The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2009 had run a big series on the administration of his predecessor, Lynne Abraham, in a front-page four-part series entitled "Justice: Delayed, Dismissed, Denied."
The series found that Philadelphia defendants went free in two-thirds of violent crime cases. Thousands of crimes were dismissed because prosecutors weren't prepared or witnesses didn't show up. Among large urban counties, the newspaper found, Philadelphia had the lowest felony conviction rate. So Seth Williams proclaimed that his office was going to be "smart on crime."
That meant, as the D.A. explained to The New York Times in 2010 fewer prosecutions but a higher conviction rate based on a computer analysis of past prosecution efforts.
"We need to be smarter on crime instead of just talking tough," the D.A. told the Times.
But the dark side of being smart on crime, the cops will tell you, was that under Seth Williams, the assistant district attorneys in his charging unit would only charge cases that were slam dunks. So that Seth could show voters a lower crime rate and a higher conviction rate.
|Smart on Crime Seth|
So this D.A. stopped charging attackers in domestic assaults. Even though state law said that when the cops arrived at the scene of a crime of domestic violence, witnessed injuries and knew who did it, they were supposed to arrest the guilty party so the D.A.'s office could charge the suspect. When dealing with a non-cooperative victim, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania could act as the complainant to protect victims, punish the guilty, and hopefully prevent repeat offenses.
For years, the D.A.'s office, however, has refused to prosecute domestic violence cases where victims had refused to cooperate, often out of fear for their lives.
For the past week, nine such cases have been documented on this blog. Cases where victims were shot, stabbed, beaten, and choked unto unconsciousness. In one case, an attacker tore out "a chunk of hair" from a victim's head, and the cops found both the attacker as well as the evidence, as in the missing chunk of hair. In each of these nine cases, however, the D.A.'s office refused to follow state law and protect victims by charging the guilty. All the accused attackers got away no matter what they did.
But that pattern of lawlessness by the D.A.'s office under Seth Williams came to an end last week when Deputy District Attorney Michael Barry sent out an email to police, trumpeting a new policy directive in domestic violence cases.
In his email, Barry told police he was issuing his new policy directive so he could put the ADAs in the charging unit in a position where "they feel more comfortable charging difficult cases" and actually start following state law.
But domestic violence isn't the only crime being undercharged by our D.A. After domestic violence, the next biggest category where the D.A. doesn't feel comfortable charging suspects is so-called "stranger robberies" where the victim doesn't know the perpetrator.
Such as on last Dec. 23rd, when an assailant grabbed a woman from behind, as she was getting out of her parked car on the 1200 block of Taylor Street, and "forced her against her car."
The attacker, a man who pressed a sharp object against the victim's ribs and threatened to stab her, ran off with the victim's Michael Kors pocketbook. The Fire Department wound up taking the victim to the emergency room at Jefferson University Hospital, where she was treated for a "minor head injury."
Five days later, the woman was driving when she saw a man who looked like her attacker following two other women. The guy saw her, made an abrupt turn and tried to get away. But the woman was so determined, she made a U-turn and followed the man to 25th and Mifflin, where she pulled over and called 9l1.
When the police arrived, they apprehended the guy and the woman who was the victim of the previous robbery "positively identified" the suspect as her attacker, according to police records. The suspect was arrested and declined to give a statement.
But when the cops sent over to the D.A.'s office an application for an affidavit of probable cause, the D.A. declined to charge the suspect, citing "insufficient corroboration." A search warrant was executed at the suspect's home, an ADA wrote, and nothing stolen from the victim was found.
When it comes to a robbery by a stranger, "absent other corroboration, we are hesitant to charge," explained Deputy District Attorney Michael Barry. "It's tough."
A decision not to charge a suspect in a so-called stranger robbery can have deadly consequences.
Police, responding to a call of a robbery in progress, apprehended Price just two blocks away, just 30 minutes after the crime. When Price was taken into custody, the cops found a Smith and Wesson BB gun in his backpack.
The victim was shot three times; one bullet pierced his heart. If the D.A. had pressed charges against Price for carjacking, the cops say, Price would have been in jail and Wilsey would still be alive.
Round Three: The Narcotics Field Unit South
In this episode, Seth Williams once again found a public controversy to exploit, only this time it was one of his own making.
In the years leading up to this mess, Seth Williams and his office had been involved in a pissing match with the members of the Narcotics Field Unit South. The D.A. had its own narcotics unit charged with busting drug dealers. But so did the Philadelphia police and the Narcotics Field Unit South was kicking the D.A.'s ass when it came to high-profile drug arrests.
Because the D.A. was losing the battle of the narcs, time and time again, his office was losing out on drug forfeiture money, as well as public credit over big time drug busts.
So what did Seth Williams do? First, he refused to allow the members of the Narcotics Field Unit South to sit on "proffer" sessions with the D.A.'s office. Proffer sessions were interviews where assistant district attorneys sat down with drug dealers under arrest, and sought to turn those drug dealers into cooperating witnesses, so they could go out and arrest more drug dealers hopefully higher up the food chain.
|Sitting for his official portrait Seth|
The breaking point in the petty feud between the D.A. and the Narcotics Field Unit South came over the busts of a couple of high-profile drug dealers.
On Jan. 17, 2012, the narcotics field unit tailed a suspected drug dealer to a garage, where they confiscated 53 pounds of hydroponic marijuana with a street value of $481,240.
When the cops interviewed the suspect, Mohammed Samhan, 26, of Los Angeles, he decided to cooperate and give up another marijuana dealer. The cops subsequently raided the home of Kit "Fatboy" Poon, 41, of Northeast Philadelphia. This time, they confiscated 172 pounds of hydroponic marijuana with a street value of $1,565,420.
Faced with serious jail time, Poon decided that he too wanted to cooperate. He told the cops he knew about an even bigger future marijuana shipment due to arrive by tractor-trailer.
But what did the D.A.'s office do under Seth Williams? They cut the narcotics field unit out of the proffer sessions. And when the members of the Narcotics Field Unit South and their supervisor protested what the D.A. was doing, Seth Williams decided basically to get rid of them.
How did he do it? Once again the law, due process and the truth meant nothing to Seth Williams. He wrote a two-paragraph letter to the police commissioner in 2012 where he stated that he would no longer prosecute any drug busts that involved five members of the Narcotics Field Unit South, and their supervisor. With that letter, the D.A. put the narcs out of business. Even though when he wrote that letter, as court records showed, the D.A. didn't have one scrap of evidence of any police misconduct.
To make sure he would destroy the careers of those narcotics officers, Williams, according to court papers in a defamation suit filed by the cops, leaked that letter two days later to Fox 29 through Tasha Jamerson, then his spokesperson, a former Fox 29 reporter who was married to the managing editor at Fox 29.
"They were taking millions of dollars of poison off the streets," Lt. Robert Otto, who oversaw the unit, testified on April 30, 2015 in federal court. In just 2011 alone, according to police statistics, the unit had seized 357 guns, $7 million worth of drugs and $1.8 million in cash.
But our D.A. decided to overturn the convictions of 852 drug dealers arrested by the Narcotics Field Unit. They all went free, including Mohammed and the Fatboy, who had been caught red-handed with more than 200 pounds of marijuana worth more than $2 million.
"They were one of the best outfits in the city," FOP President Joh McNesby said about the Narcotics Field Unit. "I think the D.A.'s office sold the feds a line of shit and none of it was true."
[At the federal trial of the narcotics officers, all six were acquitted on all 47 charges on all 26 counts of a RICO indictment that alleged systematic beating and robbing of drug dealers. In a trial where the prosecution case amounted to "absolutely nothing," the jury foreman said. "It almost got to the point where you almost wanted to make jokes about it," the foreman said. When it came time to deliberate, "I could have been out of there in 10 minutes. That's how easy it was."]
If the 200 formerly convicted drug dealers collect half of what the plaintiff in the first case got, the city will be out more than $60 million.
That's all on Seth. And as recounted in Newsweek, so is the crime spree that many of the convicted drug dealers who got their sentences overturned went on.
Seth Williams has been responsible for the overturning of the convictions of 852 drug dealers so far. But Seth's get-out-of-jail free extravaganza is still ongoing. Public Defender Bradley Bridge expects that by the time it's through, the final tally of drug dealers who had their convictions overturned will hit 1,100.
|Shame of the city Seth|
What happened when the drug dealers got their freedom? The court records of many of those convictions are gone from the system.
I was able to trace the histories of more than 400 of those drug dealers who got their convictions overturned. As recounted in Newsweek, more than 200 of them got locked up again, many repeatedly, for more crimes that included narcotics, rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a gun, attempted murder, and murder.
The freed drug dealers included Jason V. Siderio, 34, arrested by the narcotics unit on July 8, 2009 and charged with criminal conspiracy, possession and manufacture of barbiturates, after he was caught with pills that had a street value of $17,260.
The convicted drug dealers who went free also include Mario Adorno, 40, of North Philadelphia. The narcs arrested Adorno on July 20, 2006, a conviction that was overturned on Nov. 20, 2015. But after his original 2009 arrest for narcotics, Adorno was arrested 11 more times for narcotics, and pleaded guilty four times.
A man with no conscience.
A man who put innocent men in jail and allowed thousands of guilty men to go free.
What a great D.A. you have been.
By Ralph Cipriano
One night last week, R. Seth Williams, our scandal-plagued District Attorney, stopped by the Union League.
But on this night, Williams, a longtime league member, was denied entry into the French Renaissance mansion built in 1865 that occupies an entire Center City block.
Williams, according to a knowledgable source, was informed that he was no longer considered a member of the private club that bills itself as a "shining jewel of history in a city defined by such treasures." That's because Williams hasn't been paying his bills at the club where dues run about $400 a month, or $4,800 a year.
So Williams left and returned with a $5,000 check. The only problem was, the check, according to the source, was drawn on the D.A.'s campaign finance committee. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the reasons Williams is being investigated by a federal grand jury is for alleged use of political funds to pay personal expenses. Not that Seth spending campaign money at the Union League would be doing anything illegal.
With an ethical cloud hanging over our D.A., however, the Union League wouldn't take the check. But the FBI is aware of its existence.
Jeffrey P. McFadden, the Union League's general manager, did not respond to a request for comment; neither did Patricia Tobin, the league's assistant general manager, who supposedly wound up with the check.
John J. Pease, the former Assistant U.S. Attorney who is Williams' criminal lawyer, was out of the office and not available for comment. Cameron Kline, Williams' spokesman at the District Attorney's Office, declined comment.
In recent years, Williams has been a fixture at the Union League, throwing lavish lunches and dinners there. A common sight when Williams visited the Union League on a sweltering summer day was seeing the D.A.'s two big bodyguards posted outside the club sweating in their suits, while the boss was inside enjoying the air conditioning, while puffing on a cigar.
Williams has a habit of using campaign funds to pay off his debts at the Union League. It's a practice that can be argued is perfectly legal, as Williams can say he's elevating his profile at the Union League while socializing with constituents and campaign contributors. But those campaign records, as well as Seth's bills at the Union League that were subpoenaed a while back, might be something that the U.S. Attorney, the FBI and a grand jury are interested in.
Although it may be legal, however, throwing campaign money around at the Union League while the feds are on your tail might also qualify as just plain dumb.
Last March, the Inquirer reported that the Friends of Seth Williams, the D.A.'s longtime political action committee, listed $19,000 on their 2015 campaign finance statement for dues and expenses at the Union League.
The campaign finance report for the Friends of Seth Williams in 2014 lists $37,032 for membership dues, lunches and dinner expenses at the Union League, almost a third of $116,518 of the PAC's expenses for that year.
The 2013 report for the Friends of Seth Williams lists only $5,569 in dues and lunch expenses, while the 2012 report lists $26,820 in membership dues and lunch expenses.
The grand jury is also known to be investigating the D.A.'s acceptance of $175,000 in undeclared gifts and income, actions that caused Williams to be fined $62,000 by the city's Ethics Board. The term of the grand jury, which was scheduled to expire last month, has been extended into March, meaning a decision on whether to indict the D.A. could be coming soon.
There is no word on whether Williams has paid up his debts yet, or whether he is back to smoking stogies inside the club.
Reprinted with permission from Gang Land News
By George Anastasia
The remains of the former Philadelphia mob boss were returned to the Philadelphia area shortly after he died in a federal prison hospital in Butner, NC, on Friday, January 13. Scarfo was 87 and had spent the last 30 years of his life behind bars. But details about his burial and final resting place are a mystery.
No big time mob funeral for the violent Mafia don. No FBI agents snapping pictures outside a funeral home where wiseguys and wannabes line up to pay their final respects. No filigreed coffin carried out of some cathedral while television cameras roll and newspaper photographers snap front page pictures.
And usually reliable sources in the underworld, and law enforcement, are keeping his final resting place a secret from Gang Land. Or perhaps they don't have a clue. One unconfirmed report is that Scarfo was cremated and that any memorial was strictly a small, family affair.
When it comes to Scarfo, family is an interesting word.
You could make the argument that the diminutive crime boss destroyed the Philadelphia crime family he inherited in the early 1980s after the murders of Angelo Bruno and Philip (Chicken Man) Testa. The low-key and highly efficient mob family run by Bruno (who was in charge from 1959 until his death in March 1980) was turned upside down during Scarfo's bloody reign, which began in 1981 and ended with convictions for extortion, racketeering and murder in 1988 and 1989.
For Bruno, who was posthumously nicknamed The Docile Don, murder was a negotiating tool of last resort. If all else failed, somebody might get whacked. For Scarfo murder was a calling card. He set out to avenge the death of his mentor Phil Testa by having those suspected of being involved in that plot killed. But his paranoia and fear led to even more violence, culminateting with Scarfo's order to have Testa's son, Salvatore, murdered in 1985.
Salvie Testa was the crown prince of the Philadelphia crime family, handsome, charismatic and fearless. He led the charge for Little Nicky in an internecine power struggle in the 1980s, personally killing the man behind the plot to murder his father and then serving as point man for the Scarfo faction in a gangland war with a group headed by Harry Riccobene.
Scarfo's decision to have Salvie Testa killed was the last straw.
"If he could kill Salvie, he could kill any of us," former mob soldier Nicholas (Nicky the Crow) Caramandi said in explaining why he decided to become a cooperating witness. His testimony along with that of fellow mobster Thomas (Tommy Del) DelGiorno led to the conviction of Scarfo and 16 co-defendants in a sweeping 1988 racketeering case that ended the Scarfo era.
But the story of Scarfo's family didn't end there. He had three sons and a nephew, all of whom grew up in his shadow and all of whom suffered the consequences.
His oldest son, Chris, wanted no part of the mob life. Caramandi said Scarfo would frequently mock his son, using his fingers to form the shape of a gun and then shaking his head in dismay over the fact that Chris Scarfo wanted no part of it.
Chris Scarfo assumed his wife's maiden name after getting married and still resides at the New Jersey shore, not far from the Atlantic City home where the Scarfo family once resided.
Scarfo's youngest son, Mark, tried to commit suicide during his father's 1988 racketeering trial. The then-17-year-old was found hanging in the Georgia Avenue apartment where the Scarfos lived. He remained comatose for more than 25 years before passing away two years ago.
Scarfo's middle son and namesake, Nicodemo S. Scarfo, followed his father into the world of organized crime. In a pact that Little Nicky worked out with his former prison mate pal, mob boss Vic Amuso, Scarfo Jr. was inducted into the Luchese crime family.
For a time, he was riding high with boats, cars and a luxurious home outside Atlantic City. But the bubble burst in 2011, and he is currently serving a 30-year federal prison sentence for fraud and extortion. It's his third prison stint and absent some appellate court ruling in his favor, the 51-year-old mob scion is looking at a December 2037 release date.
His cousin, Scarfo's nephew Philip Leonetti, has publicly encouraged the young Nicky Scarfo to cut a deal with the government. (More on that later.) Leonetti, once known as Crazy Phil, did just that after he was convicted in that 1988 racketeering case.
Leonetti admitted his own involvement in 10 gangland-style slayings and for serving as an enforcer, and later the underboss for his volatile uncle. His decision to cooperate and testify in a series of trials up and down the East Coast led to a substantial reduction in his 45-year prison sentence.
He did five years, five months and five days before a federal judge, citing his extraordinary cooperation, set him free. Now living in another part of the country, Leonetti could be the poster boy for the federal Witness Security Program. He has literally recreated himself and is a model citizen whose neighbors know him only as a friendly and successful businessman.
Leonetti co-authored a book Mafia Prince, in which he likened his uncle to Svengali. According to one source, when Leonetti was informed that the date of his uncle's death was Friday the 13th, he replied, "That's appropriate."
Another cooperating witness had a somewhat different take on the passing of Little Nicky.
Now living in Florida, the one-time mobster who did business with members of the Philadelphia mob and was an earner and enforcer for two New York crime families operating in North Jersey, said there was no doubt that Scarfo was "unhinged."
"I can tell you that with the utmost certainty," the ex-wiseguy wrote in a short eulogy posted online after Scarfo's death was reported.
"You can't be a real guy in the life unless you have the ability to kill," he wrote, noting that "none of his victims were virgins or saints."
But while all too many former associates are willing to badmouth Scarfo now, most went along with his program when they were making money with him, the former gangster opined.
"He was Little Nicky for 30 years before he became boss, so they knew the drill. But he enjoyed killing people and would be demonstrative in telling you that. A lot of guys have done work, doesn't mean they enjoyed it."
Scarfo, he said, clearly did.
But watching from afar he said he sees a certain underworld "hypocrisy" in guys like Crazy Phil and Nicky Crow who now paint Little Nicky as a monster.
"They all basked in his shadow when he was on the street…and they all ate at his table. He was a bad guy in a bad life…As a human being he was flawed, inept and delusional. In the end he was just an old man who died alone."
George Anastasia can be reached at George@Bigtrial.net
To read more from Jerry Capeci's Gang Land News click below:
By Ralph Cipriano
A hearing where Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright was supposed to rule on a defense motion to dismiss the retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn has been moved to March 24th, at 2 p.m.
Judge Bright was originally scheduled to rule on the motion to dismiss the case on March 1st, but the hearing was postponed without any public explanation.
Seven years into the Msgr. Lynn case, Judge Bright has draped a shroud of secrecy over the proceedings by imposing a gag order on the lawyers in the case. As part of that gag order, those lawyers are required to file motions and legal briefs under seal. Two recent pretrial hearings in the judge's courtroom were also marked by lengthy back room conferences.
It's hard to understand what the secrecy is all about since the Msgr. Lynn case has been out in public since 2011, when our grandstanding district attorney, R. Seth Williams, released a mistake-filled grand jury report that forever hung the defendants out to dry.
The Msgr. Lynn case has been tried in front of a Common Pleas Court jury in 2012, resulting in a guilty verdict for the monsignor on a single count of endangering the welfare of a child.
The state Superior Court in 2013 overturned that conviction and ordered a new trial for Lynn, but that decision was reversed by state Supreme Court in 2015. A year later, in 2016, the state Superior Court again overturned Msgr. Lynn's conviction and ordered a new trial. The state Supreme Court then decided not to take another appeal from the D.A.'s office, setting the stage for the retrial, scheduled for May 1st.
All of those proceedings transpired in public. The alleged victim in the case, "Billy Doe," AKA Danny Gallagher, has been publicly outed on the cover of Newsweek. We also know that Gallagher collected $5 million in a civil settlement with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that was supposed to be kept confidential.
At a January hearing in Judge Bright's courtroom, Joseph Walsh, the retired lead detective in the case, has come forward to express all of the doubts he had about Danny Gallagher's fantastic stories, and the many lies he caught Gallagher in. Walsh has also testified that when he told the lead prosecutor, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, about Gallagher's lack of credibility, she replied, "You're killing my case."
So Judge Bright, seven years into this travesty, why all the secrecy?
In a phone interview, Thomas McGill, the judge's law clerk, acknowledged that the Msgr. Lynn case has already been the subject of local, national and international publicity. The gag order, he said, "is designed to limit" any further publicity, because the judge is concerned about "tainting the potential jury pool."
"The judge has decided that until the case goes to trial there will be no additional publicity concerning the case," McGill said.
Except on bigtrial.net.
Besides the motion to dismiss, the judge has two other pending defense motions to rule on. Thomas A. Bergstrom, Lynn's lawyer, has asked the judge to preclude the guilty plea of former priest Edward V. Avery from being admitted as evidence. In court in 2013, when he was called as prosecution witness, Avery publicly recanted his guilty plea. On the witness stand, Avery testified that he never even met Danny Gallagher, but he pleaded guilty because he was facing a long prison sentence, and didn't want to die in jail.
Bergstrom also has filed a motion to preclude any supplemental sex abuse cases from being admitted as evidence in the retrial, scheduled to begin May 1st.
By Ralph Cipriano
A court-appointed lawyer for Chaka Fattah Jr. argues that the federal indictment against him should be dismissed because of an "improper and corrupt" relationship between the lead FBI agent on Fattah's case and a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
In a friend-of-the-court brief filed last month, Ellen C. Brotman contended that FBI Agent Richard Haag struck a quid-pro-quo deal with Martha Woodall, an Inquirer reporter, that amounted to "outrageous government conduct."
In the 26-page brief Brotman filed in the U.S. Third Circuit of Court of Appeals, the lawyer argued that FBI agent Haag agreed to illegally divulge confidential information about the federal grand jury investigation of Fattah to Woodall. In exchange for the reporter's help in illuminating Fattah's business dealings with the Philadelphia school district.
Brotman contended that the alleged deal between the FBI agent and the reporter had dire consequences for Fattah Jr. -- a load of embarrassing negative publicity that cost him his $450,000 a-year job with the school district and made him unemployable.
As a result, Brotman contends, Fattah didn't have money to hire the lawyer of his choice so he wound up defending himself in court, with disastrous results.
On Tuesday, "Chip" Fattah Jr. showed up in handcuffs and an olive green jumpsuit to personally argue his appeal before a three-judge panel from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the Inquirer, Fattah told the panel of judges that "the issue caused by the government created a situation where I no longer could do my job."
"I was fired," Fattah Jr. said, after a story about a search warrant that targeted him hit the Inquirer. "I was told my services were no longer needed."
In appeals court, Brotman told the panel of judges that because of the publicity, Fattah lost a $450,000 a year contract with Delaware Valley High. Brotman, appointed by the Third Circuit to aid Fattah in his appeal, told the judges that negative publicity not only ruined Fattah's reputation, but made it impossible for him to find another job.
Fattah has already served a year of the five year prison sentence he received as a result of his 2015 conviction on bank and tax fraud charges. He was also fined $1.1 million.
In appeals court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric L. Gibson conceded that FBI Agent Haag's leaks were "regrettable" and "inappropriate." But the prosecutor didn't think that the agent's misconduct led to Fattah's diminished financial situation. Gibson also described the relief sought on behalf of Fattah as a stretch.
"There is simply no authority for the remedy Mr. Fattah is seeking here -- the dismissal of the indictment," Gibson told the judges, according to the Inquirer.
In a 26-page response brief, Acting U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gibson, Robert Zauzmer, and Paul Gray went even further, describing Brotman's argument as "meritless as a matter of law."
The prosecution pointed out that in previous cases, the appeals court has decided that far more outrageous conduct by the government didn't necessitate the relief sought on behalf of Fattah, namely dismissal of the indictment. Such as one instance where a government agent solicited a defendant to burn down the building, drove him to the site, and provided him with gasoline and matches. And another case where a government agent induced a defendant to swallow one kilogram of heroin in order to smuggle it into the country.
"Nothing remotely comparable happened here," the U.S. Attorney's office argued about the Fattah Jr. case. "No case supports such an extraordinary result."
In their reply brief, the government contended that Agent Haag's disclosure "did not result in 'real economic harm' to Fattah." And that Fattah had voluntarily resigned from his job with the school district because he was planning to go off on his own business venture. The prosecutors also argued that Fattah was not qualified for the position he held with the school district, because he didn't even have a college degree. As far as the government was concerned, Fattah Jr. was grossly overpaid, and defrauding the school district.
In her court filing, Brotman described the allegedly corrupt bargain between the FBI agent and the reporter, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Brotman began by detailing the history of the allegations of impropriety in the case, as raised by Fattah Jr. And the government's original denials regarding the leaking to the Inquirer about the details of the search warrants targeting Fattah.
"Neither the prosecutors nor the investigators assigned to this investigation played any role in alerting the press to the impending execution of the search warrants," the prosecution responded when Fattah Jr. originally raised the charges. "There is no evidence in the record regarding how the press came to be present" when the warrants were served.
But on Oct. 27, 2015, FBI Agent Haag admitted at the end of his testimony winding up the prosecution's case that he had struck a bargain with the reporter, Brotman wrote.
"In exchange for the reporter's assistance with background information relating to the Philadelphia School District, the agent would provide the reporter with confidential information about the investigation," Brotman wrote.
The FBI agent testified in court that he wanted the reporter "to feel as though she had a vested interest, that we had information that could eventually lead to a potential story for her. I mean, she has to have a reason to provide me with information."
"To provide her with that reason, the agent told the reporter that Fattah was a target of the investigation," Brotman wrote. The FBI agent also advised the reporter about "the existence of search warrants 'months in advance,'" Brotman wrote.
FBI agent Haag "provided the time and location of the search as soon as that information was available (despite the facts that the warrants were sealed), advised that Treasury Department agents were assisting in the investigation, discussed the content of undercover recordings, and gave her [Woodall] specific information about Fattah's business dealings," Brotman wrote. That information included "amounts [Fattah Jr.] had been paid under contracts with the Philadelphia school district, where Fattah worked, and who his partners were."
"The agent also lied to Magistrate Timothy Rice at the time of the issuance of the warrants when he affirmed the need for secrecy and sought a sealing order," Brotman wrote, arguing falsely that the ongoing federal investigation of Fattah Jr. "would be jeopardized by premature disclosure of information."
The FBI agent, Brotman wrote, provided Woodall with "information concerning the focus of the government's investigation, the context of FBI recordings between Fattah and Matthew Amato, the address of Fattah's home and the extant date and time when a sealed search warrant would be executed."
But at trial, Judge Harvey Bartle III determined that the "wrongful conduct of Agent Haag" had not "risen to the level to justify dismissal of the indictment" because there was "no evidence that the grand jury was influenced by the disclosures in the press," Brotman wrote.
In her brief, Brotman repeatedly attacked the conduct of FBI Agent Haag.
"In this prosecution, the lead case agent repeatedly violated the law, ignored Department of Justice policy, and lied to a judge in order to employ an investigation technique that was unnecessary and resulted in the widespread exposure of a grand jury target years before charges were filed," Brotman wrote.
According to Brotman, Judge Bartle erred by concluding that the misconduct by the FBI agent "did not violate Fattah's Due Process and Sixth Amendment rights."
By leaking to the Inquirer, Brotman wrote, the FBI agent knew "it would lead to widespread publicity of the search, thus exposing Fattah to humiliation and consequently eradicating his ability to gain employment."
"The intentional violation of law and policy is not an investigative technique which can be condoned by this Court as an acceptable crime fighting tool," Brotman wrote. "Instead, it must be soundly rejected."
Not only is such conduct illegal, Brotman wrote, but "this type of 'collaboration' between the press and government creates a serious risk that the government will use the press to improperly disadvantage and pressure targets or witnesses of investigations long before the grand jury has an opportunity to review the evidence. Because this improper and corrupt relationship must be strongly discouraged, the remedy for this violation is dismissal of the indictment."
"This negative publicity affected Fattah's financial status to the point where he was unable to hire a lawyer during the investigation and have the layer of his choice at trial," Brotman wrote. "This government interference with Fattah's right to the counsel of his choice violates the Sixth Amendment" right to counsel.
In her brief, Brotman wrote that FBI Agent Haag began his investigation of Fattah Jr. by seeking information about minority contracting in the Philadelphia school district. The agent identified a reporter, Woodall, who had "written extensively on the subject," Brotman wrote.
"The agent hatched a plan to further his investigation by offering the reporter confidential investigation information," Brotman wrote. "In exchange for background information on a general legal topic, which should have been readily available from a number of other sources, (including the United State's Attorney's Office, the Philadelphia City Solicitor's Office, or a library) the agent was willing to violate the law, FBI policy, and the court's order sealing the search warrant."
"This creation of a quid pro quo relationship was also based on the agent's spurious and cynical assumption that only by providing the reporter with the promise of a 'scoop' would she be willing to assist a legitimate government investigation into crime," Brotman wrote.
"In holding up his part of the bargain," Brotman wrote, "the agent told the reporter that Fattah was a target of the investigation, in itself, a violation of grand jury secrecy."
The agent also divulged the time and location of search warrants "months in advance,""discussed the content of undercover recordings, and provided specific information about Fattah's business dealings," with the school district, Brotman wrote.
The FBI agent knew that by leaking to the Inquirer, he would expose Fattah Jr. to "negative, humiliating and harmfully publicity, months or even years before charges were publicly filed," Brotman wrote. The agent knew that to keep his end of the bargain with the reporter "would require lying to the federal magistrate about the need for sealing and privacy; he [also] knew he would be violating the sealing order that arose from that lie."
The agent "never considered appealing to the reporter's sense of civic duty in asking the reporter for help, but cynically assumed that she would only asset him if he offered a quid pro quo," Brotman wrote. "The agent's conduct corrupted both the process and the reporter."
"This needlessly lawless behavior by a government agent entrusted with confidential information and the public shocks the conscience and establishes a Due Process violation that must be met with a sanction that sets a bright line and a clear message: dismissal of the indictment," Brotman wrote.
"This sanction is necessary to remedy the violation here and prevent the government from using the press to improperly pressure targets of investigations."
In case anybody missed it, Nate Silver over at fivethirtyeight.com has written an essay, "There really was a liberal media bubble," that blames the media's inability to figure out Donald Trump was going to be elected president on "groupthink" and a pack mentality.
His thesis: the media suffered from a lack of diversity of viewpoint and independent thought. Rather than finding out what was going on with real people, the media, by talking to each other in an echo chamber, came to the faulty conclusion that Hillary Clinton had a 100 percent chance of winning an election that she lost badly.
My hat's off to Silver for engaging in an exercise that the media seldom does: trying to figure out what went wrong when they screw up. Sadly, this type of thing never happens here in Philadelphia. In a town where we suffer from a double blind: a liberal Democratic newspaper of record that mirrors the prevailing groupthink of our liberal Democratic city. At a time when the newspaper is on life support and our local government is both inept and corrupt.
But slowly, I became aware that something was going on with Trump. So I forced myself to watch an unedited video of one of his campaign rallies. I saw that Trump, running as the quintessential political outsider, was connecting with people in a free-flowing way that was generating all kinds of crowds and energy. In a year where people were desperate for change. Then I looked at Hillary and saw that she was preaching to the choir in her usual shrill and wooden way.
My son then gave me the single most illuminating insight into the entire presidential campaign, when he pointed out that Donald J. Trump was a member of the pro wrestling hall of fame. Pondering this insight, I began to see all the obvious ties between the huckstering at Trump campaign events and the hype at the old WWF bouts, down to the cartoon villains, one of which was the media, which was dutifully playing along.
I then canvassed many of my liberal Democratic friends in the media, basically telling all of them that if the Dems stuck with Hillary as their candidate, she was going to lose. To my surprise, their reaction was unanimous: some of them thought that Hillary was the smartest person in the room; others saw her flaws. But regardless, every one of them insisted no matter what, she was going to win and win big. Trump was a clown who was going to get killed. And I was an idiot for doubting the prevailing wisdom.
How does this apply to the local media?
Nate Silver wrote about a disturbing unanimity of thought and lack of diversity among the media, where only 13 percent of jobs at daily newspapers are held by minorities, at a time when 92 percent of journalists have college degrees, and only 7 percent identify themselves as Republicans.
This brought me back to the 1990s, when I was a reporter at the Inquirer, and forced to attend "mandatory" diversity workshops, a real exercise in comedy.
What I thought was so funny at the time was what did it matter if we concentrated our energies on hiring more minority reporters? When everybody that we hired, black white or whatever, all wound up living in the same parts of town [Mt. Airy or the suburbs] read the same books and newspapers, went to see the same movies, shunned organized religion, and basically all thought alike to a frightening degree?
What was so diverse about that?
Last week, a young reporter for a local news website asked me how I came up with the story about District Attorney Seth Williams getting banned from the Union League. I basically tried to explain that 90 percent of journalism is just showing up. Listening to people and getting them to trust you. So that when something happens, they might tell you about it.
Sadly, when I go to many news events, I often see all the reporters in a huddle talking to each other. Rather than taking to real people who might know something. As a wise old editor once told me, there are no stories in a newsroom. To find a story, you actually have to leave the building.
So why does our local daily newspaper miss so many stories that we wind up by default writing about on this blog? Because too many people down at our local daily newspaper all think alike.
Right now, people at the Inky are upset because some editors had to reapply for their jobs in a game of musical chairs that amounts to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
Once again, what does it matter if they all think alike?
So in the spirit of constructive criticism, here's my three-pronged proposal guaranteed to reverse the
sagging fortunes of our daily newspaper, beginning today:
-- Fire all the editors. Immediately.
Replace them with young independent-minded reporters, and then turn them loose. Maybe even hire some non-college graduates. Or if you insist on college degrees, some non J-School grads who might actually know something. Maybe even consider hiring some Republicans or conservatives or Libertarians. Or people who actually believe there is a God. Or people who are contrarians, and don't automatically accept the prevailing wisdom.
-- Insist that everyone who covers the city actually live there. Just like they used to do with cops. So that earnest young journalists might meet some real people who might tell them something.
-- Enact an immediate ban on all stories that have as their theme the latest outbreak of racism or sexism or homophobia. Especially such stories written by your increasingly shrill columnists or editorial writers. See if you can make it a week, or maybe even a month.
Here's a tip: the general public keeps telling you, whether by electing a non-PC president, or by not buying your newspapers any more, or by teeing off on liberal writers with hostile comments on philly.com, that they are sick and tired of being lectured to by the PC Ministers of Truth.
Last week, Sandy Shea, the editorial page editor of the Daily News, wrote an idiotic column where she proposed first a day, then a week without men.
Some of Shea's open-minded and enlightened prose:
Imagine a day when men aren't scheming to design new restrictions on a woman's control over their own body and her own health, or access to contraception . . . or to appropriate billions more to the military budget, or to concoct new ways to kill their fellow human beings.
You get the idea. The sad part was that the editors at the Inky turned off the comments section so that readers couldn't tee off on Shea for her silly screed.
At least that would have been interesting.
The Penn State sex scandal is making headlines again.
Former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former PSU Vice President Gary Schultz, scheduled to go on trial next week on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, pleaded guilty, the Inky reported. That left former PSU President Graham Spanier as the lone defendant in the case.
Meanwhile, veteran journalist John Ziegler has a scoop on lawnewz.com about an FBI background investigation of Spanier for a top-secret security clearance that found "not a shred of evidence any kind of cover-up, deception, or malfeasance" at Penn State.
Excerpts from the 110-page FBI report published online by Ziegler:
The circumstances surrounding subject's departure from his position as PSU president do not cast doubt on subject's current reliability, trustworthiness or good judgement and do not cast doubt on his ability to properly safeguard national security information.
Finally, blogger and U.S. government analyst Ray Blehar explores the mystery of why Curley and Schultz would have chosen to plead guilty now and he concludes it wasn't about the law. But it may have been about fear of not getting a fair trial, Blehar writes, or maybe they even got paid under the table.
By Ralph Cipriano
In a Harrisburg courtroom today, Graham Spanier, the former president of Penn State University, went on trial on two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Sadly, as anyone back in Philadelphia familiar with the case of Msgr. William Lynn knows, the state's original child endangerment law doesn't apply to Spanier for the same reason it didn't apply to Lynn. The law also doesn't apply to former PSU Athletic Director Tim Curley or former PSU Vice President Gary Schultz, both of whom pleaded guilty to violating it last week.
The irony is that on the same day Spanier went on trial for allegedly violating a state law that doesn't apply to him, the man behind the making of that bad case law -- Philadelphia District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams -- was indicted by the feds on 23 counts of bribery, extortion, honest services fraud, and wire fraud.
It's a shame the feds also didn't indict Williams for corrupting the law. Because that's exactly what he did.
"The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for men to do nothing," said Deputy Attorney General Patrick Schulte. "Evil thrives when men do nothing."
Not really Mr. Schulte. In Pennsylvania, evil seems to thrive when prosecutors get their hands on a lurid case of sex abuse, and the media gives them carte blanche to run with it. The results in both Philadelphia and Harrisburg -- state-sponsored witch hunts and bad case law.
Let's start with Philadelphia. Back in 2005, a grand jury that investigated sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia used subpoenas to pry loose the church's so-called secret archive files -- 45,000 pages of sex abuse records hidden in a safe that chronicled the sins of 63 abuser priests who had raped and molested hundreds of innocent child victims.
The city was enraged. So was District Attorney Lynne Abraham and a grand jury. But in their 2005 report, Abraham and the grand jury concluded that they couldn't indict any of the priests because their crimes had been successfully covered up over decades by a couple of former archbishops -- John Krol and Anthony Bevilacqua -- so that none of those sex crimes fell within the statute of limitations.
Abraham and the grand jury also concluded that they couldn't indict Msgr. Lynn or Cardinal Bevilacqua for endangering the welfare of children. Because the state's original child endangerment law didn't apply to supervisors, the grand jury report stated. The law only applied to people who had direct contact with children, such as parents, teachers or guardians who had "knowingly endangered" the welfare of a child.
So what did D.A. Lynne Abraham do? She led a statewide campaign to amend the original state child endangerment law to include supervisors, an amendment passed by the state legislature in 2007.
Msgr. Lynn went to trial in 2012 and was convicted on a single count of endangering the welfare of a child. In 2013, however, the state Superior Court overturned that conviction. The appeals court ruled that D.A. Williams's application of the child endangerment law was "fundamentally flawed." Because Msgr. Lynn didn't even know "Billy Doe," the altar boy who was allegedly raped by a priest with a prior history of abuse.
That's just what happened to Spanier, Curley and Schultz. They were supervisors accused of not doing enough to respond to reports of possible sex abuse by Jerry Sandusky in 1998, when a mom complained about Sandusky taking a shower with her 11-year-old son. Which led to the discovery of another 10-year-old who had also taken a shower with Jerry.
Those alleged incidents, however, were reported to both the police, the district attorney and to a couple of county child welfare agencies, all of whom found that no crime was committed.
The next incident happened in 2001, when Mike McQueary made his now famous visit to the Penn State locker room and heard and then saw Sandusky in the shower with another boy. This was the incident that McQueary reported to Paterno. Who reported it to Schultz and Curley. Who allegedly told Spanier, as well as the child psychologist who was the head of Sandusky's Second Mile Charity.
As in the Msgr. Lynn case, the alleged crimes in the PSU case, which happened in 1998 and 2001, all predate the 2007 amending of the state child endangerment law to include supervisors.
What made the PSU prosecutions possible was a 2016 decision by the state Supreme Court, which overturned the Superior Court reversal of the Lynn conviction. How did the state's highest court do that? By reinterpreting the original meaning of the 1972 state law to say that it originally meant to include supervisors.
In reinterpreting the original law written in 1972, the state Supreme Court played some word games. The state's highest court also had to ignore the practical 40-year history of the state's child endangerment law, where it was only applied in some 300 cases only to people who had direct contact with children, such as parents teachers and guardians.
To reinterpret the child endangerment law, the state Supreme Court also had to ignore D.A. Abraham's statewide crusade to change the law to include supervisors. And the state legislature's decision to amend the law to include supervisors.
That's why in Harrisburg today, the protagonists were left to play more word games. To see if the prosecutors would succeed in their crusade to put Graham Spanier behind bars for allegedly endangering the welfare of children he never even met.
Today's star witness was McQueary, the tall, redheaded former graduate assistant who allegedly blew the whistle on Jerry Sandusky with his famous visit to the Penn State showers. Amazingly, the story McQueary tells has only improved with age in the sixteen years since it happened.
"I heard slapping sounds," McQueary told the jury. "The slapping sounds alerted me that something more than a shower was going on."
"I looked over my right shoulder" into a mirror in the locker room, he said, and he saw Sandusky standing behind the boy who was "right up against him."
McQueary said he took a step to his right, about six inches, he said. And this time he looked directly into the shower. And he "saw the same exact thing."
The third time he looked directly at Sandusky and the boy, who were now facing him, McQueary said. And this time they looked back at McQueary and separated from each other.
The prosecutor, standing next to the jury, used hand gestures to show that McQueary, as a lowly graduate assistant, was way down at the bottom of the PSU football "food chain." And that Joe Paterno, the iconic coach, was way up at the very top when McQueary went to see old Joe to tell him what he heard and saw in the shower.
Paterno, McQueary said, was "like a grandpa" to him. And Grandpa was upset when he heard that one of his former assistant coaches might have been molesting a kid.
"He kind of slumped back in his chair," McQueary said, continuing to show an amazing recall for 16-year-old details. "His eyes looked sad."
What did McQueary tell Gary Schultz, the prosecutor asked.
"I told him I saw Jerry molesting a boy," McQueary stated in a booming voice. As for how Schultz could have interpreted what McQueary told him as "horseplay," McQueary was just as definitive.
"I have never ever used the word horseplay in my life," McQueary said. And it wasn't horseplay that he saw Sandusky engaging in with that boy in the shower.
"I saw Jerry molesting a boy in the shower, yes, ma'am," McQueary told the prosecutor.
On cross-examination, however, McQueary said he had never personally discussed the shower incident with "Dr. Spanier."
The trial of Spanier is expected to run all week, and conclude on Friday.
By Ralph Cipriano
According to the feds, when District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams received the gift of a custom-made, chocolate-colored sofa worth $3,212, he texted the business owner who had gifted him and asked, "How would you like me to repay you?"
"Stop it," the man identified in the 23-count, 50-page indictment of Seth Williams as "Business Owner #1" texted back. "I don't expect anything when I gift my friends : ) Enjoy."
So Seth Williams kept on taking free gifts that he didn't report. A Louis Vuitton tie worth $205. An iPad worth $300. A $7,000 check, and $2,000 in cash. A Burberry watch for Williams, a Burberry purse for his girlfriend. A preowned 1997 Jaguar XK8 convertible worth $4,160. Free airline tickets and a vacation in Las Vegas worth $2,000.
A Punta Canta resort vacation worth $4,805 that included "royal service" bracelets, access to a private beach, and personal butler services at their luxury suite. And a second free vacation in Punta Cana that included a stay in a "Royal Service Presidential Suite."
While he was posing as the city's top prosecutor, Rufus Seth Williams kept on taking bribes and extorting more free gifts.
Even if they were criminals. And even if he was abusing his official position to do favors for them, or their criminal friends.
"In the future always give me at least a week to help a friend," Seth Williams wrote when Business Owner #1 asked for Seth's help in lowering a prison sentence that the district attorney's office had sought for a criminal who was a friend of the business owner's.
The favors Seth did for Business Owner #1 shockingly included "limiting screening by law enforcement authorities at the United States border,"the feds wrote in their indictment of Williams. Those favors the D.A. was willing to do for his friend included using police contacts and his official position to let the business owner back in the country after a trip abroad.
In return, the business owner pledged in a text message that he would never do anything that would "bring suspicion" on Seth.
" I care about you," wrote the business owner who later rolled over on Seth. And then the business owner dispensed some more flattery.
"I want to see you the next mayor and the next governor and maybe the next president," he wrote Williams.
The favors that Seth Williams did for a man identified in the 23-count of Williams as "Business Owner #2" included the issuing of an official badge that made the owner a "special advisor to the District Attorney's Office."
Even though Business Owner #2 had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of tax federal tax evasion, and was sentenced to three years probation and a 30,000 fine.
In a letter to vendor who made the special badge and a leather case, Williams wrote, "Attached please find an invoice for the badge and wallet [Business Owner # 2] wanted He paid for my trip in 2009 to visit the D.A. in San Diego and D.A. of San Francisco. He has given $$$$, will max and will host events at his bars."
"Have you flashed your badge lately" Rufus Seth Williams texted his special advisor. And then he paid for the badge and leather badge-holding case with $141 taken from his political action committee, according to the feds.
Williams also asked Business Owner # 2 to buy him airline tickets for a Key West vacation for Seth and his girlfriend. "And not to be greedy but maybe we can all go to your place in San Diego before you sell it " Williams wrote Business Owner # 2 about a vacation home the business owner planned to sell.
"Not greedy at all," the business owner texted back.
"What type of assignments would you like as Special advisor?" Rufus Seth Williams texted Business Owner # 2.
Another time Williams needed personal advice when he ran into money troubles that he blamed on his girlfriend.
"I may call you from a random pay phone tonight," Williams texted Business Owner # 2. "My problems stem from [girlfriend] not helping with utility bills, but enjoying heat, electricity, cable, water and food."
In the meantime, Williams, according to the 23 count indictment of Williams issued Tuesday, the D.A. was always looking for more handouts. While he was engaging in bribery, extortion, wire and honest services fraud, the feds wrote.
So Williams, with family members in tow, took a trip to Florida worth $856. Then, he accepted free gifts and lodging from Business Owner # 2 for a San Diego vacation worth $2,000.
It was Business Owner #2 who also supplied Seth with a preowned 97 Jaguar XK8 convertible worth $4,160. And a free vacation for Seth in Las Vegas worth $2,000. Plus $900 in cash.
But perhaps the most shocking crime in the Williams indictment was when the feds accused the D.A. of raiding the pension and Social Security income for an elderly relative who was supposed to be spent on the elderly relative's care in a nursing home.
The name of the relative is not stated in the 50-page indictment. The Inquirer, however, identified the elderly relative as Williams' own mother.
The money included $10,319 that was deposited into a joint back account that Williams shared with his elderly relative. The money was supposed to be spent on the elderly relative's care in a nursing home.
Instead, Williams defrauded the the nursing home for $10,319 which was diverted "for his own personal benefit," the feds wrote about Seth Williams.
Williams, the feds said, also did the same with a $10,000 check that was given to him by a couple of friends. The money was intended to be spent for the care of his elderly relative, the feds wrote. Instead, Williams spent the entire amount "for his own personal benefit," the feds wrote.
With their recent plea bargains in hand, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz showed up at the Penn State sex abuse trial today to testify against their old boss, former PSU President Graham Spanier. And by day's end, they seemed to have scored more points for the defense then they did for the prosecution.
Curley, the former Penn State athletic director who is battling lung cancer, seemed extremely uncomfortable with his role as a cooperating witness for the prosecution in front of a courtroom packed with many Penn State loyalists, including football icon Franco Harris. On the witness stand, Curley professed an amazing lack of memory about most of the key events in the official Penn State sex abuse story line.
"I can't recall the specifics," Curley said about a meeting he had with former football Coach Joe Paterno to discuss what Mike McQueary heard and saw in his infamous 2001 visit to the Penn State locker room. "I have no recollection of that particular encounter," Curley said about a Sunday morning powwow he and Schultz had at Paterno's house to discuss what McQueary had witnessed in the showers. "I don't recall what his [Paterno's] response was."
About a meeting he and Schultz had with Spanier, Curley said, "We gave Graham a head's up." But he added, "I don't recall what the conversation was."
About another meeting Curley and Schultz had in President Spanier's office, Curley said, "I don't recall any of the conversation."
Well, asked the prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Patrick Schulte, wasn't the meeting about what Mike McQueary said he heard and saw in the showers?
"I don't remember the specifics," Curley said.
Did McQueary say what he saw Jerry Sandusky doing with that boy in the showers was "sexual in nature," Schulte asked.
"No," Curley said.
Did McQueary say what he witnessed in the shower was horseplay, the prosecutor asked.
"I don't recall Mike saying that," Curley said. "I just walked through what Joe [Paterno] told us" about what McQueary told him about his trip to the locker room.
Well, the frustrated prosecutor asked, did you ever do anything to find out the identity of the boy in the shower with Jerry?
"I did not," Curley said. "I didn't feel like someone who is in danger," he said about the alleged victim.
But when the subject returned again to Curley's talks with Paterno, Curley responded, "I don't recall the specific conversation I had with Joe."
Curley downplayed the problems with Sandusky.
"I thought Jerry had a boundary issue," Curley said about Sandusky's habit of showering with young boys.
And what happened when Curley talked with Sandusky about that boundary issue, the prosecutor asked. Did Sandusky admit guilt?
"No, he didn't," Curley said.
Well, what did he say?
"I don't recall the specifics of the conversation," Curley replied.
The prosecutor reviewed for the jury's benefit Curley's guilty plea on one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child. In the guilty plea, Curley admitted that he "prevented or interfered with" the reporting of a case of suspected sex abuse, namely the boy that Mike McQueary saw in the showers with Sandusky.
"You know other kids got hurt" after the McQueary incident, the prosecutor asked Curley.
"That's what I understand," Curley said.
On cross-examination, Spanier's lawyer, Samuel W. Silver, asked Curley about his guilty plea. The defense lawyer specifically wanted to know who was it that Curley prevented or interfered with to keep that person from reporting a suspected case of child sex abuse.
Faced with the chance to finger Spanier, Curley blamed only himself.
"I pleaded guilty because I thought I should have done more," Curley told Silver. "At the end of the day, I felt I should have done more."
Silver, seemingly delighted with that answer, ended his cross-examination after only a couple of minutes.
"I appreciate your candor," Silver told the witness. The prosecutors, however, appeared to have a different opinion of Curley's performance while they glared at him.
The day in Dauphin County Court began with the prosecution calling a couple of witnesses who worked as assistants to Gary Schultz, and used to do his filing.
Joan Cobel recalled how Schultz told her about a manilla folder he was starting with Jerry Sandusky's name on it.
"Don't look at it," Cobel recalled Schultz advising her about the Sandusky file, which was kept under lock and key.
"He never used that tone of voice before," Cobel conspiratorially told the prosecutor.
Lisa Powers, a former spokesperson for PSU and a speechwriter for Spanier, told the jury how she "kept feeling that something wasn't right" about the Sandusky rumors that reporters were asking her about. She recalled that when she asked another Penn State official about what was really going on with Sandusky, she was told, "The less you know the better."
The implication was that a big sex scandal was brewing at Penn State. Whether the jury buys all this hokum is another matter.
The prosecution, which rested its case today after only two days of testimony, seemed to be playing up the drama in the absence of hard factual evidence against Spanier.
Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka, Iron Mike's niece, got Powers to tell the jury how Spanier insisted on posting statements from lawyers defending both Curley and Schultz on the university's website after the sex scandal broke.
Then Ditka got Powers to admit that while the university was posting those defenses of Curley and Schultz, it didn't run a statement expressing sympathy for Sandusky's alleged victims.
Ditka also managed to give a speech, in the form of a question, asking Powers if Spanier told her "they did nothing to locate that child that was in that shower with Jerry Sandusky."
To hammer home the plight of the alleged victims in the scandal, the prosecution put "John Doe" on the stand, a 28-year-old known previously at the Sandusky trial as "Victim No. 5."
Judge John Boccabella seemed to cooperate with the theatrics. John Doe was sworn in as a witness in the judge's chambers. And when he came out to testify, the judge had extra deputies posted around the courtroom, to make sure that no spectator used their cellphone to take photos or video of the celebrity witness.
Conditions during the short Spanier trial have bordered on the draconian. The judge typically wants spectators seated in his courtroom by 8:30 a.m. Anybody who shows up late can't get in. Anybody who leaves the courtroom can't come back. Nobody can talk. And anybody caught using a cell phone not only in the courtroom, but anywhere on the fifth floor of the courthouse, faces a contempt of court rap that carries a penalty of six months in jail.
John Doe told the jury how he had begun attending Second Mile activities when he was 9 or 10, at the suggestion of a teacher, who thought it would improve his English.
The prosecution introduced photos of the boy.
"That was taken in Jerry and Dottie's house," John Doe told the jury about one shot of him posing with Jerry.
The whole point of John Doe's trip to the witness stand was to tell the jury that John Doe was sexually abused in the Penn State showers later in the same year that McQueary made his famous visit there.
The prosecution's final witness was Gary Schultz. He dutifully told the jury about how he had just pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child, because he prevented or interfered with the reporting of a possible sex crime against a minor.
Once again, Schultz was referring to the boy Mike McQueary saw in the showers with Jerry Sandusky.
Schultz, the university's former vice president for finance and business, had a better memory than Curley. He recalled how he gave Spanier three updates about the 1998 accusation against Sandusky, made by the mother of an 11-year-old, who had objected to Sandusky giving her son a bear hug in the shower.
When McQueary came forward in 2001 to make his accusations, Schultz said his mind immediately flashed back to 1998. And he "wanted Jerry to get professional help."
Schultz outlined the original plan for coping with the McQueary allegations about the shower incident with Sandusky. The PSU administrators, Curley, Schultz and Spanier, wanted to confront Sandusky, and tell him he wasn't allowed to bring children into Penn State facilities any more. They also wanted to revoke his key to all of Penn State's athletic facilities.
The PSU administrators planed to inform the president of Sandusky's charity, the Second Mile, about what had happened in the showers. And then they were going to report the incident to the Department of Public Welfare.
But Curley had second thoughts, thinking it was more "humane" to confront Sandusky first, and then inform the Second Mile, and finally, DPW.
Schultz told the jury how he reluctantly went along with Curley's change of heart. The PSU administrators did confront Sandusky. And they did inform a child psychologist who was the head of the Second Mile charity. But the PSU administrators never reported the shower incident to DPW.
"We should have reported it," Schultz told the jury. "We should have followed the original plan."
The prosecutor asked if PSU had made that report to DPW, would it have spared future victims?
"Who knows," Schultz said. "But it would have been the right thing to do."
On cross-examination, Silver, Spanier's lawyer, pointed out that today on the witness stand, Schultz had described McQueary's description of the shower incident as Sandusky standing behind the boy, with his arms around him.
"That's the first time we've heard that version," Silver said, pointing out to the jury that only after he became a coopering witness did Schultz start singing the prosecution's tune.
As he did with Curley, Silver asked Schultz who he had prevented from filing a report of possible child sexual abuse.
As Curley had done, Schultz blamed himself.
"I had been deficient in not reporting it myself," Schultz said. "I really thought we should report it to DPW."
After the prosecution rested, Spanier's supporters looked happy as they filed out of the courtroom.
"The case wasn't strong," Franco Harris said. He wondered why the prosecution had brought it in the first place.
Tomorrow, when the court reconvenes at 8:30 a.m., the defense plans to call up to four witnesses, which may or may not include Graham Spanier. The expectation is that the jury will have the case by the end of the day.