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

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    Rufus and Imelda
    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    According to the feds and The Philadelphia Inquirer, District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams not only accepted bribes and extorted free gifts. He was so depraved that he stole more than $20,000 from his sick and elderly adopted mother.

    This is the same corrupt guy who accepted $175,000 in unreported gifts and services. This is the same corrupt guy who sold his office by doing favors for business owners who were criminals. And by doing favors for friends of business owners who were also criminals.

    And yet, neither the federal government nor the Inquirer has made the logical deduction that a man who would sell his office, take whatever gifts he could extort, and steal from his own mother just might be ethically compromised when it came to the administration of justice.

    But as far as the feds and the Inky are concerned, when Rufus Seth Williams launched his witch hunt against the Catholic Church, this thoroughly corrupt politician somehow had angels perched on his shoulders.

    Anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

    When the news broke on Tuesday about the feds' 23-count, 50-page indictment of Rufus Seth Williams on charges of bribery, extortion, honest services fraud and wire fraud, I posed a question to Michele Mucellin, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia.

    I basically asked now that everybody knows that Seth Williams is corrupt, when are they going to look at how he corrupted the justice system. By using a fraudulent sex abuse victim, Danny Gallagher AKA "Billy Doe," to send three priests and a former Catholic school teacher to jail for a series of alleged rapes that never happened.

    In other words, I maintain that a man who would steal from his own mother would probably not hesitate to send innocent men to jail to boost his political ambitions.

    "Our district is not handing the case," Mucellin responded. But she said she had sent along my request for comment to the appropriate press person over at the U.S. Attorney's office in New Jersey, which is handing the prosecution of Seth Williams. The appropriate person did not respond to the request for comment.

    Meanwhile, at the Inky, they sent a reporter down to to the nursing home where Seth's mother Imelda lives. But they won't even consider taking a second look at the Billy Doe case, which they completely blew to hell by blindly swallowing Billy's lame act, hook line and sinker.

    There is one person who's in a position to clean up the mess that Seth made.

    On Friday at 2 p.m., Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright is scheduled to announce her decision on whether to grant a motion to dismiss the retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn on charges of prosecutorial misconduct.

    Joseph Walsh, the retired detective who led the D.A.'s investigation of Danny Gallagher/Billy Doe, testified in January that he repeatedly caught the alleged victim in one lie after another. But when he reported Gallagher's lack of credibility to Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, according to Walsh's testimony, she replied "You're killing my case."

    As Thomas A. Bergstrom, Msgr. Lynn's lawyer argued in court, the D.A.'s office, under that reprobate Rufus Seth Williams, knowingly put a star witness on the stand that they knew wasn't credible. And then they watched as four innocent men were sent to jail, and one of those men, a priest who took a vow of chastity and poverty, died there.

    If Judge Bright doesn't have the courage to do the right thing, namely put the Msgr. Lynn retrial out of its misery by throwing out the case, it's time for a federal investigation.

    Because the worst thing Rufus Seth Williams ever did wasn't to steal from his own sick and elderly mother. What he did to the blind lady named justice is even worse. By sending four innocent men to jail based on the lies of an alleged "victim" that the D.A. had to know was a complete fraud.


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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    At 9:35 this morning, Samuel W. Silver, the lawyer for former Penn State President Graham Spanier, stood up in court and without calling a witness, told the judge that the defense was resting its case.

    Five minutes later, Silver began his closing argument to the jury by declaring, "There was no evidence of a crime by Graham Spanier."

    "This case involves judgment calls," Silver told the jury. "They made judgment calls," Silver said about Spanier and his two alleged co-conspirators -- Tim Curley and Gary Schultz -- before they pleaded guilty and became government witnesses.

    "They made judgment calls," Silver repeated about Spanier, Curley and Schultz. "They did not engage in crimes; they did not engage in a conspiracy."

    "They took the matter seriously," Silver said about the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal. "They did not stand by and do nothing."

    Silver's announcement to the judge was somewhat of a surprise. The day before, when the government rested its case, there was talk that the defense was planning to call up to four witnesses. The defense case was supposedly built around expected testimony from an FBI agent who had done a background check of Spanier for a top-security clearance, and had found no evidence of wrongdoing by Spanier at Penn State.

    But Silver obviously decided that the prosecution didn't prove its case. So he went right to his closing argument.

    The defense lawyer began by going through the law regarding the crimes that Spanier is charged with: two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of conspiring to endanger the welfare of a child.

    To find Spanier guilty of endangering the welfare of a child, Silver said, the jury would have to find that Spanier interfered or prevented someone from making a report of suspected sex abuse involving a child.

    The problem with that, Silver said, was that the government did not present any evidence that Spanier was ever told that Jerry Sandusky "was engaging in sexual crimes with minors."

    "Nobody told Graham Spanier," Silver said. The defense lawyer went through every one of the fifteen witnesses called by the government, who were the only witnesses in the case.

    "Her witnesses," Silver said, referring to his courtroom rival, Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka. "Her witnesses made the defense case."

    Silver returned to the language of the child endangerment statute. To find Spanier guilty, Silver said, the jury would have to conclude that the government had presented evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Spanier had "knowingly violated" his duty of care to the welfare of children that he was supposedly supervising.

    "Graham was not aware that children's welfare would be endangered," Silver said. To find Spanier guilty, the jury would have to conclude that Spanier was supervising the welfare of Second Mile victims abused by Sandusky, many of whom were visitors to the Penn State campus.

    The jury would also have to find that Spanier had acted "knowingly, intentionally and recklessly" when he allegedly interfered or prevented anyone from reporting a suspected crime of child sex abuse.

    Another element to the crime of child endangerment, Silver said, was that the jury would have to find that in the course of performing his official duties, that Spanier "came into contact with that child" he had allegedly endangered, namely the boy in the showers. Because the child endangerment statute required that Spanier would have had to knowingly endangered the welfare of a child he was supervising.

    To find Spanier guilty of conspiracy, Silver said, the jury would have to believe that Spanier "agreed to enter into a conspiracy to commit endangering the welfare of a child." And that Spanier and his co-conspirators had "agreed to put children in danger, and took actions toward that goal."

    To anybody who sat through the two days of fact-free testimony that constituted the government's case, any of those findings would be a stretch. But this is sex abuse we're talking about, Penn State style, starring  naked good old boy Jerry Sandusky bumping and grinding in the shower with little boys. It's like dousing a straw house with a couple cans of gasoline and waiting for a spark to fly.

    Silver talked about the government's cooperating witnesses, former Penn State Athletic Director Curley, and former Penn State Vice-President of Business and Finance Gary Schultz.

    "These were the stars of their show," Silver said about the government's case. But going by their testimony, Silver said, neither Curley nor Schultz ever told Spanier that what Mike McQueary witnessed in the showers was sex abuse.

    Silver repeated what Schultz told the jury: "Jerry was always horsing around," Silver quoted Schultz as saying. "Schultz told Spanier it was horseplay."

    Of all the government's fifteen witnesses, Silver said, only two, Curley and Schultz, testified that they spoke directly to Spanier about what McQueary told them, and what McQueary told Joe Paterno.

    McQueary, Silver reminded the jury, never spoke directly to Spanier about what he witnessed in the shower.

    There was no conspiracy at Penn State, Silver said, summing up. Nobody told McQueary, or anybody else, to "keep things quiet, to keep their mouths shut."

    "There is no evidence that Graham Spanier knowingly endangered the welfare of children," Silver said, before he asked the jury to find his client not guilty.

    When Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka stood up to give her closing, she wanted to clear up one thing right away.

    "Gary Schultz and Tim Curley are not our star witnesses," she said, "They're criminals." And you can't count on criminals to tell you that they knowingly committed crimes.

    With a paucity of facts to draw on, Ditka, Iron Mike's niece, turned to fireworks. Spanier, Curley and Schultz, she said, were all guilty of turning their backs on the welfare of children, in favor of protecting themselves and Penn State from scandal.

    "Jerry Sandusky was left to run wild," she said.'

    She talked about the plan that Spanier, Curley and Schultz had agreed on. To confront Jerry Sandusky with the incident that McQueary had witnessed in the shower. And to tell Sandusky that he was no longer allowed to bring children onto Penn State property.

    The PSU officials were hoping that Sandusky would admit to a problem and agree to seek help. If not, the officials planned to report the shower incident to the child psychiatrist who led the Second Mile charity that employed Sandusky as a counselor. And to also report the incident to the Department of Public Welfare, so they could investigate whether Sandusky's conduct amounted to sex abuse.

    But the "downside" of that approach, as Ditka reminded the jury as she quoted from an email sent by Spanier, was that "if the message wasn't heard" by Sandusky, then Spanier, Curley and Schultz "become vulnerable for not having reported it," Spanier had written.

    "All they cared about was their own self interest," Ditka said. "Instead of putting him [Sandusky] on a leash," she said, "they let him run wild."

    She told the jury about the first incident Sandusky was ever accused of. Back in 1998, a mother went to the cops because Sandusky had given her 11-year-old son a naked bear hug in the shower.

    The boy, a member of the Second Mile charity, had been lured into the showers by the promise of a pair of "Joe Paterno sox," Ditka reminded the jury. "The lure of Penn State football is strong."

    Ditka spoke about what she described as the cover-up mode employed by those at the "top of the totem pole" at Penn State, namely Spanier, Curley and Schultz. And then she contrasted it with the whistle blowing of Mike McQueary, whom she described as "the low man on the totem pole."

    Ditka went into all the salacious details of the McQueary shower story -- Sandusky's naked "body moving slowly," slapping sounds, and "skin against skin."

    "If he's says that's sexual or not," she said about McQueary, "What do you think?" she asked the jury. "That's horseplay?"

    If it's horseplay, she said, why was the Penn State president and two of his top officials meeting about it on the weekend" Why are Schultz and Curley sitting around Joe Paterno's kitchen table on a Sunday morning if it's just horseplay they're talking about, Ditka argued.

    "Skin to skin, hips moving against a boy is not horsing around," she said. This is Penn State, she said, where they have ten thousand kids.

     "Every time a towel is snapped," Ditka asked, do university officials gather at Graham Spanier's house?

    They knew what they were doing, Ditka said about Spanier, Curley and Schultz. "They come up with a plan," she said. "You have to keep it a secret."

    That's why they waited ten days to interview eyewitness McQueary, Ditka said, because they didn't want to know the truth. They just wanted to keep it under wraps.

    "They had a problem and they didn't want to deal with it," Ditka said. "They own it."

    "They prevented a report of sex abuse," she said. "They knew what they were dealing with."

    Iinstead of tackling the problem head on, Ditka said, by dragging McQueary in and finding out exactly what happened, they tried "to soft-shoe it."

    And when the time dragged by, Spanier told Gary Schultz, "It's taken care of."

    Here, Ditka was taking some liberty with trial testimony. When asked on the witness stand who had told him that the shower incident had been instigated and "taken care of," Schultz had said, "I can't say for sure that it was Graham Spanier."

    It was a quote read to the jury by Silver, who had warned that if Ditka relied on that quote to prove Spanier was guilty, it fell far short of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

    It was like that famous scene in Animal House when Bluto was giving a speech to his frat brothers, and he got all worked up about when the Germans bombed Pearl Habor. Otter wondered whether to correct Bulto, but Boon said, "Forget it, he's rolling."

    "Graham Spanier told him [Schultz] 'Its taken care of," Ditka yelled. Before she was done, she would accuse Spanier of "lying to Schultz."

    Ditka reminded the jury that when the Penn State sex abuse scandal exploded, Spanier insisted on running on the university's website two letters of support for Curley and Schultz.

    "I support Gary and Tim," she recounted the statements as saying. "Not a thought about the kids . . . They didn't care about kids."

    The most entertaining part of Ditka's closing argument was when she trashed both of her alleged star witnesses.

    "Tim Curley," she said was "untruthful 90 percent of the time."

    "Gary Schultz, I would suggest to you was more truthful," Ditka told the jury. That's because he cried on the witness stand.

    "He was crying for a whole lot of reasons," Ditka said, such as having to appear in court and testify against his old friend, Graham Spanier. But Ditka brought up the tears of Victim No. 5, another government witness who had testified about being abused by Jerry Sandusky in the same showers where McQueary had previously seen something amiss.

    Victim No. 5, Ditka said, wakes up crying on "a lot of mornings."

    Ditka's weakest moment came when she left the emotional arguments behind to delve briefly into the law in the case, which was probably best left undisturbed.

    "There's more than enough proof," she concluded. "They knew the animal they were letting loose on the world," she said, before asking the jury to "find him guilty."

    Ralph Cipriano can be reached at ralph@bigtrial.net.

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    The judge in the Msgr. William J. Lynn sex abuse case announced today that she had found evidence of prosecutorial misconduct serious enough to warrant a new trial for the defendant.

    Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright stated that new evidence divulged in a Jan. 13th hearing by retired Detective Joseph Walsh "should have been provided to the defense" back in 2012 when Lynn was originally tried and convicted on one count of child endangerment.

    The judge said the misconduct in the district attorney's office amounted to violations of Brady v. Maryland, the landmark 1963 case where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors must turn over all evidence that might exonerate a defendant.

    The judge, however, noted that the state Superior Court had already granted a new trial when the appeals court overturned Lynn's conviction last year. So the denied a defense motion to dismiss the retrial of the case, scheduled for May, because in the judge's opinion, the district attorney's office did not engage in "intentional prosecutorial misconduct" on the level of the infamous 1979 Main Line murders case, and so it did not justify blowing out the retrial.

    Judge Bright was referring to the grisly murder of teacher Susan Reinert, and the disappearance of her two children, whose bodies were never found. It's a case where the death row murder conviction of Upper Merion Area High School Principal Jay Smith was thrown out because the prosecution deliberately hit evidence.

    Nobody got murdered in the Msgr. Lynn case -- except the truth -- but the misconduct that Detective Walsh described in Judge Bright's courtroom sure sounded intentional to anybody who heard him testify.

    Detective Walsh led the district attorney's investigation into the allegations of Danny Gallagher AKA "Billy Doe," the former altar boy who improbably claimed he was raped by two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher.

    At a Jan. 13th hearing, Walsh testified that Gallagher's story didn't hold up under the detective's repeated questioning of the alleged victim. And Walsh said when he told Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen about it, her reply was, "You're killing my case."

    Walsh testified that the month before the 2012 trial of Msgr. Lynn, he sat down with Danny Gallagher to prepare the D.A.'s star witness for testifying.

    "There were a lot of discrepancies," Walsh Judge Bright on Jan. 13th. "I was going to iron out the discrepancies."

    But, Walsh said, when he confronted Gallagher about the many factual discrepancies in his stories, "He just put his head down" and said nothing. Or claimed he was high on drugs.

    When Gallagher refused to respond, Walsh said he told him that during the upcoming trial of Lynn a judge would force him to answer those questions.

    "You can't just sit there and not answer those questions," Walsh said he told Gallagher. But, Walsh said,  Gallagher "would stare at the table" and say nothing.

    "He wouldn't answer," Walsh testified about Danny Gallagher. "He would clam up and put his head down."

    The defense in the Lynn trial, however, was never informed of Walsh's continued questioning of Danny Gallagher, and Gallagher's responses or non-responses. The defense also was never told about Walsh's conversation with ADA Sorensen, as in "You're killing my case."

    Does that sound intentional to you?

    In court today, Judge Bright set another hearing date for next Tuesday at 11 a.m., where she would hear arguments on two remaining motions.

    The defense has asked the judge to preclude the prosecution from bringing up at Msgr. Lynn's retrial the guilty plea of former priest Edward V. Avery. It was Avery who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing Danny Gallagher. But Avery later recanted his plea, saying he never even met Gallagher but pleaded guilty to avoid dying in jail.

    Avery is still in jail serving a 2 1/2 to 5 year sentence for sexually assaulting Gallagher. So he could be brought back in his prison jumpsuit as a witness in any retrial of Msgr. Lynn. That's a spectacle Lynn's lawyers would surely like to avoid.

    The other motion the judge has to rule on is the prosecution's plan to introduce a dozen cases of sex abuse as supplemental evidence in the case against Lynn.

    At Lynn's original trial, the trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, allowed the prosecution to introduce into evidence 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse dating back to 1948, three years before the 66-year-old monsignor was born, to show a pattern in the archdiocese of covering up sex abuse.

    The 21 supplemental cases, however, were the reason that the state Superior Court overturned Lynn's original conviction. The appeals court ruled that the prejudicial effect of the supplemental cases far outweighed their evidentiary value.

    For the retrial, Lynn's lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, has objected to the prosecution's plans to introduce a dozen cases as evidence because the cases, Bergstrom said, have nothing to do with Msgr. Lynn.

    At today's hearing, Judge Bright told Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington that he better pare his list of a dozen supplemental cases.

    "You need to narrow it down," the judge told Blessington. "I'm trying to be as straight-forward as I can be."

    "I'll try," Blessington replied.

    "Some of these cases might be relevant," the judge said. But she added that she was "not in the business of piling on."

    That has to be bad news for the district attorney's office. Because from day one, that's all this case has been about.

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    The jury in the Penn Sate case today convicted former PSU President Graham Spanier on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, but acquitted him on a second endangerment count, as well as a third count of conspiracy.

    On the one count they convicted on, the jury, however, found no "continuing course" of criminal conduct. So under the law the child endangerment charge that Spanier was convicted of fell from a felony to a misdemeanor.

    A misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child was the exact same charge that Spanier's former co-defendants, former PSU Athletic Director Tim Curley and former PSU Vice-President Gary Schultz, pleaded guilty to earlier this month. For a misdemeanor offense, first-time offenders such as Penn State's trio of former administrators are typically looking at a prison term of zero to nine months. The defendants could wind up with just probation.

    Samuel W. Silver, Spanier's lawyer, said he was heartened by the jury's acquittals on two of the charges, and that he would appeal the jury's conviction on the third charge. As far as Silver was concerned, the case was "replete with significant issues, both factual and legal." Then he announced that he would take no questions.

    That's a shame because there are several bizarre wrinkles to the jury verdict that appear to be lost on the local citizenry. The statute of limitations in Pennsylvania for endangering the welfare of a child is two years. The incident that Spanier was convicted of, however, dated back to 2001 -- the infamous shower incident involving a naked Jerry Sandusky and a boy that was supposedly heard and seen by graduate assistant Mike McQueary.

    That means the jury convicted Spanier for a crime that the statute of limitations had already expired on. You may hear more about that on appeal, where Spanier's legal team is confident of victory. Once they get their case out of Dauphin County, Spanier's layers are betting, state law may be applied.

    The Spanier case is similar to the Monsignor Lynn case out of Philadelphia, because it was another high profile sex abuse scandal that also involved the misapplication of the state's original child endangerment statute. The Lynn case was twice overturned on appeal by the state's Superior Court, the same place where the Spanier case is now headed.

    The state's original child endangerment law required Spanier to "knowingly endanger" the welfare of a child he was supervising, and had a duty to care for. How Spanier could have knowingly endangered a child victim he never met, a child victim who to this day the university doesn't know the identity of, and never produced as a trial witness may also be explored on appeal.

    The Upright Citizens Brigade
    Meanwhile, back in Dauphin County, Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka declared victory, telling reporters that the prosecutors in the Penn State case were "three for three." She was talking about the guilty plea bargains of Curley and Schultz, and the conviction of Spanier.

    "He [Spanier] had a duty of care and protection for children who came to the Penn State campus and he failed in that duty," Ditka told reporters.

    "These leaders endangered the welfare of children by both their actions and inactions," a grandstanding Attorney General Josh Shapiro added about Spanier, Curley and Schultz. "There are zero excuses."

    The jury reached its decision today after 12 hours of deliberation, about as many hours as there were testimony in the case.

    As the word went out that the jury had reached its verdict, thirteen sheriff's deputies filed into the courtroom, to guard against unruly spectators. It turned out to be overkill. The mood in the courtroom was solemn and business like among the tame crowd of senior citizens and reporters. There was no visible reaction to the verdict, or any outburst by Spanier, or any of his supporters.

    It was similar to the unnecessary show of force in during the trial when Victim No. 5 appeared as a surprise witness, and the courtroom was guarded by extra deputies patrolling in vain for phantom cell phone movie makers.

    After the verdict was read, Judge John Boccabella, a frontier judge famous for locking the doors of his courtroom whenever possible, went out of his way to compliment the jury.

    "I never had a jury more intelligent," the judge asserted. He praised the jury for asking questions that supposedly got to the heart of the case.

    An appeals court may take a different view.

    The trial was a curious spectacle that originally was expected to last a week. But the government put on only two days of testimony that were largely fact-free and depended on raw appeals to emotion. The defense trumped the brevity of the prosecution case by not even calling one witness. Silver was that convinced that the prosecution didn't prove its case.

    The prosecution's two star witnesses, former PSU administrators Curley and Schultz, were so ineffective that even the prosecutor wound up trashing both of them during her closing argument.

    "Gary Schultz and Tim Curley are not our star witnesses," Ditka told the jury. "They're criminals."

    "Tim Curley," she declared, was "untruthful 90 percent of the time."

    "Gary Schultz, I would suggest to you was more truthful," she said, but that was because he wound up crying on the witness stand. Crying because he was guilty, Ditka told the jury.

    The verdict upset Penn State loyalists.

    Al Lord, a member of the university board of trustees, told reporters that he was "blown away."

    "You can't endanger children if you set Jerry loose because you don't know Jerry's a pedophile, and frankly that's what this case is about," Lord said.

    Lord said that prosecutors offered Spanier the same deal that Curley and Schultz got "seven freaking times" but that Spanier turned it down "because he knows he's innocent and he's a man of integrity."

    "I wish I could say the same thing for the prosecution," Lord added.

    Former football star Franco Harris told reporters that he felt bad for Sandusky's victims, but he added, "There is no way that Penn State wanted to harm kids. I mean, that's the furthest from the truth. So, that's the part that still has to be fought."

    The defense was facing an uphill climb from day one. The main obstacle: a jury pool tainted by six years of saturation media coverage of the Penn State sex scandal. It was coverage that sadly displayed an unhealthy lack of skepticism for the story line fed to reporters by prosecutors and Louie Freeh. He's the former judge and FBI director who claimed to find evidence of a "callous and shocking" coverup at Penn State by top officials.

    But even the jury today did their part to continue to unravel the official Penn State story line. The Dauphin County jury rejected the conspiracy charge in the case; the jury also found no continuing course of criminal conduct in the misdemeanor committed by Spanier.

    A 2013 poll of Dauphin County residents commissioned by one of the defense attorneys in the case showed how biased the potential jury pool was, thanks to media malpractice. The poll, part of an unsuccessful campaign for a change of venue, found that 46.9 percent of those questioned in Dauphin County agreed with the statement that even if Penn State officials like Curley and Schultz did nothing illegal, "they should be punished."

    Seventy percent of the people polled in Dauphin County agreed that "from very early on, officials like Curley and Schultz knew exactly what was going on with Sandusky."

    Some 64.9 percent agreed that "the culture at Penn State and in the Penn State athletic department tolerated Sandusy's behavior."

    And 62.6 percent agreed that "Curley and Schultz helped to create the culture at Penn State that tolerated Sandusky's behavior."

    So it was no surprise that Deputy Attorney General Ditka was able to obtain a conviction by offering up no new facts, but by endlessly reprising the story of Jerry Sandusky, the naked child-molesting "animal" lurking in Penn State's showers.

    Like spectators at a frontier hanging, the citizens of Dauphin County can now go on with their lives secure in the knowledge that they did their part to clean up the sex abuse scandal at Penn State.

    After court was adjourned, the saloons of Harrisburg were open for business.

    More coverage from Lawnewz: Spanier convicted for something he didn't do.

    Ray Blehar: Insane Spanier Verdict a Temporary Setback.

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    Shame Of The City: Our Corrupt D.A.
    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    Rufus Seth Williams, our corrupt and scandal-plagued district attorney, has a few new problems to contend with.

    When we last saw our public embarrassment of a D.A. last week, he was pleading not guilty to a 23-count, 50-page federal indictment charging him with bribery, extortion, wire fraud, and honest services fraud. The crimes that the feds accused Williams of included stealing $20,000 from his own mother.

    But, as court papers filed last week reveal, Williams has other problems to contend with. The free-spending D.A., who has stubbornly refused to resign from his $175,000 a-year position, is broke and can't afford to hire a lawyer to defend himself. So the court may have to appoint one for him. Court filings last week revealed that the D.A.'s original criminal lawyer has already flown the coop, and that his current lawyer is asking a judge to let him out of the case.

    The D.A.'s original criminal lawyer, John J. Pease, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, was getting paid
    by the city of Philadelphia. But ever since Rufus Seth Williams was indicted last week, the city can no longer pay for Williams' defense, according to court papers filed last week.

    Michael J. Diamondstein, the lawyer who replaced Pease when Williams pleaded not guilty last week, has already filed a motion to withdraw from the case. The reasons for withdrawing stated by Diamondstein are two-fold: One, Williams can't afford to pay him. And two, Diamondstein, who makes a living as a criminal defense lawyer, would have a conflict of interest by continuing to represent the sitting District Attorney of Philadelphia.

    In a March 23rd letter to U.S. District Court Judge Paul Diamond, Diamondstein cited the "unique nature and circumstances of this case" that D.A. Williams is charged with.

    "Moving forward, I do not believe that I can represent Mr. Williams so long as he is the sitting district attorney," Diamondstein wrote the judge. "Putting aside the issue of whether Mr. Williams can afford to be represented by private counsel, the nature of my criminal practice would make continuing on as counsel to the sitting District attorney of Philadelphia too challenging."

    Williams is free on $50,000 bail. The bail order set several conditions for the D.A.'s continued freedom. He has to report to pretrial services as directed. He had to surrender his passport and agree to restrict his travel to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

    Sadly for our beleaguered D.A., who could probably use another free vacation right now, the bail order means no more free trips to Las Vegas, Florida, San Diego or Punta Cana, which, according to the federal indictment, are the D.A.'s favored destinations. Especially when his friends are footing the bills.

    As a condition of bail, Williams had to surrender his firearms. He also had to agree that any and all firearms "must be removed from the premises" of his home. He also can't allow any firearms "to be brought into the premises."

    The D.A. also had to agree that he would "have no contact with any victims, potential witnesses, or co-defendants in this case with the exception of the friend identified in the indictment as Person No. 2 with whom the defendant shall not discuss the case."

    In the indictment, Person No. 2 was defined as the D.A.'s "girlfriend." The conditions of bail were agreed to on March 22nd by Diamdonstein, on behalf of Williams.

    But when he appeared as the D.A.'s lawyer, Diamondstein wrote the judge, it was just a temporary gig.

    "However, as indicated above, I do not expect that I will be able to enter my appearance moving
    forward," wrote Diamonstein, who declined comment on his representation of Williams.

    In a motion to seal that accompanied Diamondstein's request to withdraw from the case, the lawyer wrote the "nature of the agreement" between the D.A. and Pease indicated that if "Mr. Williams was charged with a crime that the city would no longer pay Mr. Williams' legal fees."

    "When Mr. Williams was indicted, Mr. Pease could no longer represent Mr. Williams," Diamondstein wrote the judge.

    Williams also didn't take Pease's advice. A proposed guilty plea bargain with the feds supposedly came with only a two year prison sentence, fairly light for what the D.A. is accused of. But rather than cut a deal, Williams decided to take his chances going to trial in federal court. Where the feds win 90 percent of the time.

    But Williams didn't want to advertise his money problems, and how they were impacting his legal problems.

    "Because the factual averments and information contained herein and in the above referenced letter are extremely sensitive and confidential, Mr. Williams respectfully seeks leave of the court to file the same under seal," Diamondstein wrote.

    "Here, a sealing order is appropriate as the letter and the within filing deals with Mr. Williams' choice of counsel and the need for confidentiality and secrecy outweigh the public interest in accesss to these particular records," Diamondstein wrote.

    "Moreover, the extent of the order sought is narrowly tailored such that any infringement on the common law right of access to judicial records will be no greater than necessary to protect Mr. Williiams' confidential decision," Diamonstein wrote.

    But if the D.A. thought he was going to get any breaks from Judge Diamond, he and his lawyer were mistaken.

    In an order filed March 24th, the judge denied Diamondstein's request to withdraw from the case as "a frivolous order." And then the judge ruled that Diamondstein's motion to seal was "denied as contrary to law."

    According to Diamondstein's motion to seal, the D.A.'s legal problems began on March 21st, when Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer "advised that Mr. Williams was going to be indicted forthwith."

    In his motion to seal, Diamondstien told the judge that he advised Mr. Zauzmer that "due to a host of issues but not limited to whether Mr. Williams could afford to have privately retained counsel handle trial" that  Diamondstein was "not in a position to enter a regular appearance."

    On March 24, after his original motion to withdraw from the case was denied by the judge, Diamondstein filed another one.

    In his latest motion, Diamondstein explained to the judge that because of his late entry into the case, he did not have time to consult an ethics counsel to find out whether he could continue to represent the D.A. while maintaining his criminal practice.

    In addition, "Mr. Williams does not have the fianancial ability to retain him for trial in this matter," Diamondstein wrote.

    Williams is facing an uphill climb. Judge Diamond, as he has already revealed, may be the toughest judge down at the federal courthouse for a criminal defendant to face. In addition, the prosecutor in the case, according to a recent court filing, will be Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer, the prosecutor who put away former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo.

    Williams may have other legal problems as well. In the federal indictment last week, there were several new disclosures about as-yet unreported gifts that the D.A. accepted, such as a preowned 1997 Jaguar XK8 convertible worth $4,160, a Louis Vuitton tie worth $205, a Burberry watch, and a Burberry purse for Seth's girlfriend.

    Williams has already been fined $62,000 by the city's Ethics Board for accepting $175,000 in undeclared gifts and income. But don't be surprised if the city Ethics Board,  armed with new evidence provided by the feds, decides to reopen an investigation into Williams' finances.

    The I.R.S. may also be investigating whether Williams paid any income tax on any of the unreported gifts and cash that he was taking in. A safe bet would be no.

    0 0

    FIS Special Agent John Snedden
    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    What if everything you thought you knew about the so-called Penn State sex abuse scandal wasn't true?

    What if that infamous locker room incident that Mike McQueary supposedly witnessed 16 years ago -- featuring a naked Jerry Sandusky cavorting in the showers with an underage boy -- had nothing to do with sex? And what if the only two officials at PSU who ever spoke directly to former PSU President Graham Spanier about that incident really did describe it as just "horseplay" and not sex?

    And what if the guy advancing this contrarian story line was not some crackpot conspiracy theorist, but a decorated U.S. special agent? A guy who had already done a top-secret federal investigation five years ago into the so-called Penn State scandal but nobody knew about it until now?

    There would be no pedophilia scandal at Penn State to cover up. And no trio of top PSU officials to convict of child endangerment. The whole lurid saga starring a naked  Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing little boys in the shower would be fake news. A hoax foisted on the public by an unholy trio of overzealous prosecutors, lazy and gullible reporters, and greedy plaintiff's lawyers.

    Graham Spanier
    Yesterday, on veteran TV reporter John Ziegler's podcast, John Snedden, a former NCIS agent who is a special agent for the Federal Investigative Services, talked about his six-month top secret investigation of Graham Spanier and PSU. Back in 2012, at a time when nobody at Penn State was talking, Snedden showed up in Happy Valley and interviewed everybody that mattered.

    Because Snedden was on a mission of the highest importance on behalf of the federal government. Special Agent Snedden had to decide whether Graham Spanier's high-level security clearance should be renewed amid widespread public accusations of a coverup.

    And what did Snedden find?

    "There was no coverup," Snedden flatly declared on Ziegler's podcast. "There was no conspiracy. There was nothing to cover up."

    The whole world could have already known by now about John Snedden's  top secret investigation of Spanier and PSU. That's because Snedden was scheduled to be the star witness at the trial last week of former Penn State President Graham Spanier.

    But at the last minute, Spanier's legal team decided that the government's case was so lame that they didn't even have to put on a defense. Spanier's defense team didn't call one witness before resting their case.

    On Ziegler's podcast, "The World According To Zig," the reporter raged about that decision, calling Spanier's lawyers "a bunch of wussies" who set their client up for a fall.

    Indeed, a defenseless Spanier was convicted by a Dauphin County jury on just one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child. But the jury also found Spanier not guilty on two felony counts. Yesterday, I asked Samuel W. Silver, the Philadelphia lawyer who was Spanier's lead defender, why they decided not to put Snedden on the stand.

    "No, cannot share that," he responded in an email. "Sorry."

    On Ziegler's podcast, Snedden, who was on the witness list for the Spanier trial, expressed his disappointment about not getting a chance to testify.

    "I tried to contact the legal team the night before," Snedden said. "They were going to call me back. I subsequently got an email [saying] that they chose not to use my testimony that day."

    "Whistle-blower" Mike McQueary
    When Snedden called Spanier's lawyers back, Snedden said on the podcast, the lawyers told him he
    wasn't going to be called as a witness "not today or not ever. They indicated that they had chosen to go a minimalistic route," Snedden said.

    What may have been behind the lawyers' decision, Snedden said, was some legal "intel" -- namely that jurors in the Mike McQueary libel case against Penn State, which resulted in a disasterous $12 million verdict against the university, supposedly "didn't like Spanier at all."

    "The sad part is that if I were to have testified all the interviews I did would have gone in" as evidence, Snedden said. "And I certainly think the jury should have heard all of that."

    So what happened with Spanier's high-level clearance which was above top-secret -- [SCI -- Sensitive Compartmented Information] -- Ziegler asked Snedden.

    "It was renewed," Snedden said, after he put Spanier under oath and questioned him for eight hours.

    In his analysis of what actually happened at Penn State, Snedden said, there was "some degree of political maneuvering there."

    "The governor took an active role," Snedden said, referring to former Gov. Tom Corbett. "He had not previously done so," Snedden said, "until this occurred."

    As the special agent wrote in his 110-page report:

    "In March 2011 [Gov.] Corbett proposed a 52 percent cut in PSU funding," Snedden wrote. "Spanier fought back," publicly declaring the governor's proposed cutback "the largest ever proposed and that it would be devastating" to Penn State.

    At his trial last week, Graham Spanier didn't take the witness stand. But under oath while talking to Snedden back in 2012, Spanier had plenty to say.

    "[Spanier] feels that his departure from the position as PSU president was retribution by Gov. Corbett against [Spanier] for having spoken out about the proposed PSU budget cuts," Snedden wrote.

    "[Spanier] believes that the governor pressured the PSU BOT [Board of Trustees] to have [Spanier]  leave. And the governor's motivation was the governor's displeasure that [Spanier] and [former Penn State football coach Joe] Paterno were more popular with the people of Pennylvania than was the governor."

    As far as Snedden was concerned, a political battle between Spanier and Gov. Corbett, and unfounded accusations of a coverup, did not warrant revoking Spanier's high-level security clearance.  The special agent concluded his six-month investigation of the PSU scandal by renewing the clearance and giving Spanier a ringing endorsement.

    "The circumstances surrounding subject's departure from his position as PSU president do not cast doubt on subject's current reliability, trustworthiness or good judgment and do not cast doubt on his ability to properly safeguard national security information," Snedden wrote about Spanier.

    Gov. Corbett
    At the time Snedden interviewed the key people at Penn State, former athletic director Tim Curley and former PSU VP Gary Schultz were already under indictment.

    Spanier was next in the sights of prosecutors from the attorney general's office. And former FBI Director Louie Freeh was about to release his report that said there was a coverup at Penn State masterminded by Spanier, Curley and Schultz, with an assist from Joe Paterno.

    Snedden, however, wasn't buying into Freeh's conspiracy theory that reigns today in the mainstream media, the court of public opinion, and in the minds of jurors in the Spanier case.

    "I did not find any indication of any coverup," Snedden told Ziegler on the podcast. He added that he did not find "any indication of any conspiracy, or anything to cover up."

    Snedden also said that Cynthia Baldwin, Penn State's former general counsel, "provided information to me inconsistent to what she provided to the state." Baldwin told Snedden that "Gov. Corbett was very unhappy" with Spanier because he  "took the lead in fighting the governor's proposed budget cuts to PSU."

    That, of course, was before the prosecutors turned Baldwin into a cooperating witness. The attorney-client privilege went out the window. And Baldwin began testifying against Spanier, Curley and Schultz.

    But as far as Snedden was concerned, "Dr. Spanier was very forthcoming, he wanted to get everything out," Snedden said.

    "Isn't possible that he just duped you," Ziegler asked.

    "No," Snedden deadpanned. "I can pretty well determine which way we're going on an interview." Even though he was a Penn State alumni, Snedden said, his mission was to find the truth.

    "I am a Navy veteran," Snedden said. "You're talking about a potential risk to national security" if Spanier was deemed untrustworthy.

    Instead, "He was very forthcoming," Snedden said of Spanier. "He answered every question."

    On the podcast, Ziegler asked Snedden if he turned up any evidence during his investigation that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile.

    "It was not sexual," Snedden said about what Mike McQueary allegedly heard and saw in the Penn State showers, before the prosecutors got through hyping the story, with the full cooperation of the media. "It was not sexual," Snedden insisted. "Nothing at all relative to a sexual circumstance. Nothing."

    About PSU's top administrators, Snedden said, "They had no information that would make a person believe" that Sandusky was a pedophile.

    Jerry Sandusky
    "Gary Schultz was pretty clear as to what he was told and what he wasn't told," Snedden said. "What he was told was nothing was of a sexual nature."

    As for Joe Paterno, Snedden said, "His involvement was very minimal in passing it [McQueary's account of the shower incident] to the people he reported to," meaning Schultz and Curley.

    Spanier, 68, who was born in Cape Town, South Africa, became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1955. When Snedden interviewed Spanier, he couldn't recall the exact date that he was approached by Curley and Schultz with the news about the shower incident supposedly witnessed by McQueary.

    It was "approximately in the early 2000 decade," Snedden wrote, when Spanier recalled being approached by Schultz and Curley in between university meetings. The two PSU administrators told Spanier they wanted to give him a "head's up" about a report they had received from Joe Paterno.

    "A staff member," Snedden wrote, "had seen Jerry Sandusky in the locker room after a work out showering with one of his Second Mile kids. [Spanier] knew at the time that Jerry Sandusky was very involved with the Second Mile charity," Snedden wrote. "And, at that time, [Spanier] believed that it only involved high school kids. [Spanier] has since learned that the charity involves younger disadvantaged children."

    Because it was Spanier's "understanding at that time that the charity only involved high school kids it did not send off any alarms," Snedden wrote. Then the prosecutors and the media went to work.

    "Curley and Schultz said that the person who had given the report was not sure what he had seen but that they were concerned about the situation with the kid in the shower," Snedden wrote.

    Curley and Schultz told Spanier that the person who had given the report "was not sure what he saw because it was around the corner and that what he has reported was described as "horse play" or "horsing around." In his report, Snedden said that Spanier "assumed the terminology of horse play or horsing around came from Joe Paterno."

    "They all agreed that Curley would talk to Jerry Sandusky, tell him not to bring kids into the locker room facilities," Snedden wrote. "And Curley was to tell the Second Mile management that it was not good for any of the Second Mile kids to come to the athletic locker room facilities, and that they should suspend that practice."

    Spanier, Snedden wrote, never was told "who the person was who made the report. But "nothing was described as a sexual or criminal in any way," Snedden wrote.

    The initial conversation between Spanier, Curley and Schultz about the Sandusky shower incident lasted 10 minutes, Snedden wrote. A few days later, Curley told Spanier "in person that the discussion had taken place and that everything went well."

    "The issue never came up again with Curley, Schultz, Paterno, Sandusky, or anyone," Snedden wrote. "It did not appear very significant to anyone at the time."

    Louie Freeh
    Gary Schultz corroborated Spanier's account. Schultz told Snedden that back in February 2001, Tim Curley told him "something to the effect that Jerry Sandusky had been in the shower with a kid horsing around and wrestling. And Mike McQueary or a graduate assistant walked in and observed it. And McQueary or the graduate assistant was concerned. "

    Schultz believed the source of Curley's information was Joe Paterno, and that the conduct involved was horseplay.

    "McQueary did not say anything of a sexual nature took place," Snedden wrote after interviewing Schultz. "McQueary did not say anything indicative of an incident of a serious sexual nature."

    While Snedden was investigating Spanier, Louie Freeh was writing his overpriced $8.3 million report that came to the opposite conclusion that Snedden did, that there was a coverup at Penn State. Only Louie Freeh didn't talk to Curley, Schultz, Paterno, McQueary or Sandusky. Freeh only talked to Spanier relatively briefly, at the end of his investigation, when he had presumably already come to his conclusions.

    Ironically, one of the things Spanier told Freeh was that Snedden was also investigating what happened at Penn State. But that didn't seem to effect the conclusions of the Louie Freeh report, Snedden said. He wondered why. He also wondered why his report had no effect on the attorney general's office, which had already indicted Curley and Schultz, and was planning to indict Spanier.

    "I certainly think that if the powers that be . . .  knew what was in his report,  Snedden said, "They would certainly have to take a hard look at what they were doing."

    Freeh and the AG, Snedden said, should have wanted to know "who was interviewed [by Sneddedn] and what did they say. I mean this is kind of pertinent to what we're doing," Snedden said of the investigations conducted by Freeh and the AG.

    "If your goal in any investigation is to determine the facts of the case period, the circumstance should have been hey, we'll be happy to obtain any and all facts," Snedden said.

    Snedden said he understood, however, why Freeh was uninterested in his report.

    "It doesn't fit the narrative that he's [Louie Freeh] going for," Snedden said.

    Freeh was on a tight deadline, Ziegler reminded Snedden. Freeh had to get his report out at a highly-anticipated press conference. And the Freeh report had to come out before the start of the football season. So the NCAA could drop the hammer on Penn State.

    "He [Freeh] doesn't have time to read a hundred page report," Snedden said. He agreed with Ziegler that the whole disclosure of the Freeh report was "orchestrated" to come out right before the football season.

    It may have been good timing for the news media and the NCAA, Snedden said about the release of the Louie Freeh report. But it didn't make much sense from an investigator's point of view.

    John Ziegler
    "I just don't understand why," Snedden told Ziegler, "why would you ignore more evidence. Either side that it lands on, why would you ignore it."

    Good question.

    Snedden was aghast about the cost of the Louie Freeh report. His six-month federal investigation, Snedden said, "probably cost the federal government and the taxpayers $50,000 at the most. And he [Freeh] spent $8.3 million," Snedden said. "Unbelievable."

    In a statement released March 24th, Freeh hailed the conviction of Spanier as having confirmed and verified "all the findings and facts" of the Freeh report. On Ziegler's podcast, however, Snedden was dismissive of Freeh's statement.

    "It's like a  preemptive strike to divert people's attention from the actual conviction for a misdemeanor," Snedden said about Freeh. Along with the fact that he jury found "no cover up no conspiracy," Snedden said.

    "In a rational world Louie Freeh is completely discredited," Ziegler said. "The Freeh report is a joke." On the podcast, Ziegler ripped the "mainstream media morons" who said that the jury verdict vindicated Freeh.

    "Which is horrendous," Snedden added.

    Ziegler asked Snedden if he had any doubt that an innocent man was convicted last week.

    "That's what I believe, one hundred percent," Snedden said about the "insane jury verdict."

    About the Penn State scandal, Snedden said, "I've got to say it needs to be examined thoroughly and it needs to be examined by a competent law enforcement authority." And that's a law enforcement authority that  "doesn't have any political connections with anybody on the boards of trustees when this thing hit the fan."

    As for Snedden, he left the Penn State campus thinking, "Where is the crime?"

    "This case has been all about emotion," Ziegler said. "It was never about facts."

    "Exactly," Snedden said.

    As someone who has spent the past five years investigating the "Billy Doe" case, I can testify that when the subject is sex abuse, and the media is involved, the next stop is the Twilight Zone. Where hysteria reigns, and logic and common sense no longer apply.

    Earlier in the podcast, Ziegler talked about the "dog and pony show" put on by the prosecution at the Spanier trial. It's a good example of what happens once you've entered the Twilight Zone.

    Live At The Spanier Trial
    At the Spanier trial, the 27-year-old known as Victim No. 5 was sworn in as a witness in the judge's chambers. When the jury came out, they were surprised to see Victim No. 5 already seated on the witness stand.

    As extra sheriff's deputies patrolled the courtroom, the judge announced to the jury that the next witness would be referred to as "John Doe."

    I was in the courtroom that day, and I thought the hoopla over Victim No. 5's appearance was bizarre and prejudicial to the case. In several sex abuse trials that I have covered in Philadelphia, the victim's real name was always used in court, starting from the moment when they were sworn in in the courtroom as witnesses. The judges and the prosecutors could always count on the media to censor itself, by not printing the real names of alleged victims out of some misguided social justice policy that borders on lunacy. At the exact same time they're hanging the defendants out to dry.

    The prosecutor proceeded to place a box of Kleenex next to the witness stand. The witness seemed composed until the prosecutor asked if the witness had ever been sexually abused. Right on cue, the witness started whimpering.

    "Yes," he said.

    By whom, the prosecutor asked.

    By Jerry Sandusky, the witness said, continuing to whimper.

    The actual details of the alleged sex abuse was never explained. The jury could have left the courtroom believing that Victim No. 5 had been sexually assaulted or raped.

    But the sexual abuse Victim No. 5 was allegedly subjected to, which was not explained to the jury, was that Sandusky allegedly soaped the boy up in the shower and may have touched his penis.

    For that alleged abuse, Victim No. 5 collected $8 million.

    The Gold Rush At Penn State
    I kid you not.

    There was also much confusion over the date of the abuse.

    First, Victim No. 5 said that the abuse took place when he was 10 years old, back in 1998. Then, the victim changed his story to say he was abused the first time he met Sandusky, back when he was 12 or 13 years old, in 2000 or 2001, before 9/11. Next, the victim said that he was abused after 9/11, when he would have been 14.

    At the Spanier trial, the prosecution used "John Doe" or Victim No. 5 for one main purpose: to prove to the jury that John Doe had been abused after the infamous Mike McQueary shower incident of February, 2001. To show the jury that more victims were abused after Spanier, Curley and Schultz had decided to initiate their alleged coverup following the February 2001 shower incident.

    But there was only one problem. To prove Victim No. 5 had a relationship with Sandusky, the prosecution introduced as an exhibit a photo taken of Victim No. 5 with Sandusky.

    Keep in mind it was Victim No. 5's previous testimony that Sandusky abused him at their first meeting. The only problem, as Ziegler disclosed on his podcast, was the photo of Victim No. 5 was taken from a book, "Touched, The Jerry Sandusky Story," by Jerry Sandusky. And according to Amazon, that book was published on Nov. 17, 2000.

    Three months before the alleged shower incident witnessed by Mike McQueary. Meaning that in a real world where facts matter, Victim No. 5 was totally irrelevant to the case.

    It was the kind of thing that a defense lawyer would typically jump on during cross-examination, confusion over the date of the abuse. Excuse me, Mr. Doe, we all know you suffered terribly, but did it happen in 1998, or was it 2000, or 2001 or even 2002? And hey, what's the deal with that photo?

    But the Spanier trial was conducted in the Twilight Zone. Spanier's lawyers chose not to ask a single question of John Doe. As Samuel W. Silver explained why to the jury in his closing statement: he did not want to add to the suffering of a sainted victim of sex abuse by subjecting him to cross-examination. Like you would have done with any normal human being when the freedom of your client is at stake.

    That left Spanier in the Twilight Zone, where he was convicted by a jury on one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

    To add to the curious nature of the conviction, the statute of limitations for endangering the welfare of a child is two years. But the incident that Spanier, Schultz and Curley were accused of covering up, the McQueary shower incident, happens back in 2001.

    At the Spanier trial, the prosecution was only able to try the defendant on a  charge that had long ago expired by throwing in a conspiracy charge. In theory, that meant that the defendant and his co-conspirators could still be prosecuted, because they'd allegedly been engaging in a pattern of illegal conduct over sixteen years -- the coverup that never happened --- which kept the original child endangerment charge on artificial respiration until the jury could decide the issue.

    But the jury found Spanier not guilty on the conspiracy charge. And they also found Spanier not guilty of engaging in a continuing course of [criminal] conduct.

    That means that Spanier was convicted on a  single misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child dating back to 2001, a crime that the statute of limitations had long ago expired on.

    On this issue, Silver was willing to express an opinion.

    "We certainly will be pursuing the statute of limitations as one of our post-trial issues," he wrote in an email.

    Meanwhile, Graham Spanier remains a prisoner in the Twilight Zone. And until there's a credible investigation of what really happened in Happy Valley, all of Penn State nation remains trapped in there with him.

    0 0

    Yes, Boys And Girls, The Circus Is Back!
    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    As the legal combatants were filing out of Judge Gwendolyn Bright's courtroom yesterday, Thomas A. Bergstrom, the lawyer for Msgr. William J. Lynn, told the judge he would let her know by Friday whether it's full speed ahead for a retrial of the Lynn case scheduled for May.

    The lawyers in the Lynn case are bound by a gag rule nonsensically imposed by the judge, after six years of nonstop local, national and even international publicity of the case.

    But the smart money is on a retrial happening in May.

    Bergstrom's other option is to appeal Judge Bright's recent ruling denying a defense motion to dismiss a retrial on the grounds of double jeopardy and prosecutorial misconduct. The defense lawyer could appeal Judge Bright's decision to the state Superior Court, which has twice overturned the guilty verdict in the Lynn case in the last four years.

    If Bergstrom hits the trifecta in Superior Court, then there wouldn't be any retrial of the Lynn case to worry about.

    But filing an appeal would mean blowing out the current trial date, and delaying the retrial by a year to 18 months. And Bergstrom has to be concerned about the health of his new star witness, who is recuperating after having undergone a few back surgeries.

    Retired Detective Joseph Walsh, the man who led the D.A.'s investigation into allegations of a triple rape claimed by former altar boy Danny Gallagher/AKA "Billy Doe," has come forward to testify about prosecutorial misconduct in the district attorney's office. So who would want to delay that show?

    Odds are, when Friday rolls around, Bergstrom will tell the judge that he's going ahead with the schedule as planned. That would mean
    the lawyers in the Msgr. Lynn case can start picking a jury on May 15th. And start trying the case on May 30th.

    A retrial of the Msgr. Lynn case could be highly entertaining for a couple of reasons.

    Bergstrom can put Detective Walsh on the witness stand to testify about how he didn't believe Danny Gallagher was telling the truth. And then Walsh can detail all the lies and inconsistencies he caught Gallagher telling him.

    When he gets done with that lengthy list, Detective Walsh can testify about how he told the prosecutor in the case that Gallagher's cockamamie story of a triple rape wasn't checking out with anybody, including Gallagher's own mother and older brother. And how Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen responded by allegedly telling Walsh, "You're killing my case."

    Our newspaper of record, The Philadelphia Inquirer, which has done a consistently horrible job of reporting on this case, mentioned the other day that the prosecutors have said in court that Sorensen denies ever having said you're killing my case.

    But the Inquirer forgot to mention how in court Bergstrom dared the prosecutors to put Sorensen on the witness stand at an upcoming hearing, along with Walsh, so that everybody could see which witness was telling the truth.

    As cocky as that offer was, you'd have to think that Bergstrom had already scoped out the ponies in this race, and figured he had the winning horse.

    Sure enough, when the day for the hearing rolled around, former Detective Walsh, as promised, got up on the witness stand and told his story. And Mariana Sorensen was nowhere to be found.

    If, at trial, the D.A. dares to put Sorensen on the witness stand, Bergstrom can ask Sorensen about the more than 20 factual mistakes in the 2011 grand jury report that she authored. Mistakes that included blatant rewrites of actual grand jury testimony.

    Somebody should put Sorensen under oath and make her answer those questions about how she deceived the public. But since her boss at the time, District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams, was busy allegedly taking bribes and extorting people, before he allegedly stole money from his own mother, maybe down at the D.A.'s office, lying in a grand jury report is no big deal

    When the circus comes back to town, the big question is whether the lead clown, Danny Gallagher, will actually dare to show his face again in a Philadelphia courtroom.

    Gallagher has already testified before a grand jury and two criminal trials. He was also deposed over two full days in a civil suit that he filed against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where he answered numerous questions about discrepancies in his tales by saying he didn't remember more than 130 times.

    Gallagher already has collected his pot of gold -- a $5 million civil settlement handed to him by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles "Checkbook Charlie" Chaput. So there's no sane reason for Gallagher to show up in court, to get his brains beat in, and risk being exposed for the total fraud that he is.

    Unless Gallagher is the kind of liar who actually believes his own B.S. His former teachers have described him in court as the kind of kid who always wanted to be the center of attention. Maybe in a retrial, logic goes out the window, and Danny Gallagher can't stay away from the spotlight.

    Wouldn't that be great?

    The Inquirer recently reported that at two criminal trials, Gallagher was thoroughly grilled on cross-examination. But the Inky was wrong again on that one. Our paper of record forgot that at the first Msgr. Lynn trial back in 2011, the defense gave Gallagher a pass, and did not ask him one question on cross.

    That's because the trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, had told Lynn's defense lawyers that if they were going to cross Danny Gallagher, she was going to allow the prosecutors to drag former priest Edward V. Avery into court wearing his prison jumpsuit. Avery was doing 2 1/2 to 5 years for allegedly raping Gallagher.

    The defense lawyers figured that since Lynn testified that he never even met Danny Gallagher, that the jury would give Lynn a break. The defense was hoping the jury would decide that since Lynn had to "knowingly endanger" a child whose care he was allegedly supervising [to be found not guilty of endangering the welfare of a child] the jury would find him not guilty.

    But Lynn was convicted on one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

    And back in 2012, when the case was originally tried, nobody knew the warehouse of information contained in grand jury transcripts and Gallagher's own medical records, and civil case records, so they could cross-examine Gallagher on all of that.

    If Gallagher shows up in court this time around, there will be no mercy on cross. He could be on that witness stand for days if it's done right.

    There are also a couple of forensic psychiatrists who examined Gallagher for hours and decided he wasn't credible. They could also turn up as witnesses in the case.

    At the retrial, the judge has ruled out letting the prosecution enter Ed Avery's guilty plea as evidence, unless Bergstrom brings it up.

    On the supplemental cases of sex abuse, the score has tilted in favor of the defense.

    At the original trial, Judge Sarmina let in 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse dating back to 1948, three years before the 66-year-old Lynn was born. The prejudicial effect of all those cases, which
    essentially boiled down to putting Lynn on trial for the collectives sins of the archdiocese, was the reason why the state Superior Court overturned the Lynn conviction in 2016.

    So, on the retrial, the prosecution asked for a dozen supplemental cases to be admitted as evidence. Then, Judge Bright told the prosecutors she wasn't "in the business of piling on." So the D.A. trimmed their wish list to nine cases.

    Judge Bright subsequently did some more trimming. She admitted one supplemental case as evidence, and took three more supplemental cases "under advisement." Meaning whichever way the wind is blowing, those three cases could also come in as trial evidence.

    But before we get all excited about a retrial, there's one last shoe to drop in the Danny Gallagher saga.

    Any day now, Bochetto & Lentz, the appeal lawyers for Bernie Shero, are going to be filing a request for a hearing to seek a new trial.

    Shero is the former Catholic school teacher who's doing 8 to 16 years for sexually assaulting Gallagher. But Judge Bright has already found evidence of prosecutorial misconduct in the Lynn case. Because the prosecutors did not tell the defense about Detective Walsh's repeated questioning of Gallagher [and his responses or non-responses]. Or Walsh's conversation with ADA Soresnen, where she allegedly said, "You're killing my case."

    None of this information, which Judge Bright has already ruled are violations of the 1963 landmark case of Brady v. Maryland, was ever divulged to Shero's lawyers in the 2013 trial of Shero.

    Keep in mind that Judge Bright has already ruled that the prosecutorial misconduct in the D.A.'s office was serious enough to have warranted a new trial for Lynn, if the state Superior Court hadn't already granted Lynn a new trial.

    So if a judge decides that Shero too deserves a new trial, the D.A.'s office, faced with the time and expense of having to retry two cases in the Billy Doe saga, may finally opt to do the sane thing and fold their tent.

    Especially if Rufus Seth Williams finally resigns, or is hauled out of his office in handcuffs. Or there are so many protests to a corrupt D.A. remaining in office that the public embarrassment spreads to the D.A.'s self-described greatest achievement, his "historic" prosecution of the church that was built around a fraudulent witness.

    Then, the only job left will be the clean up after the circus finally leaves town.

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    Tom Burke And His New Client
    by Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    Rufus Seth Williams has a new lawyer. He's Thomas F. Burke, who served alongside Williams in the D.A.'s office back in the 1990s, under Lynne Abraham, when both men were starting out their legal careers as young assistant district attorneys.

    In a three-minute hearing today before U.S. Magistrate Timothy R. Rice, Burke announced he was taking over the case.

    "I'm in for the long haul," Burke told Rice. He pledged to stay on the case and continue to defend Williams even if aliens attempted to abduct him.

    Are you aware, Rice said, that your client, the district attorney of Philadelphia, may not be able to pay for your services?

    "I'm very aware of that, Your Honor," Burke said.

    Matt Rourke/AP
    The magistrate, who thanked everyone for coming out on "such a miserable day," said that Michael Diamondstein would be dismissed from the case.

    Diamondstein, the lawyer who had most recently represented Williams, told a judge that one of the reasons he wanted out was that the D.A. couldn't afford to pay him. Even though the D.A. makes an annual salary of $175,000.

    Outside the courthouse, and undaunted by the prospect of having a deadbeat for a client, Burke said he was "honored" to represent Williams. It's Burke's job to defend against a 23-count federal indictment that charges the D.A. with extortion, bribery, honest services fraud and wire fraud.

    In that indictment, the feds claim that at same time he was allegedly committing all those crimes, the D.A. was helping himself to more than $100,000 unreported gifts and cash from a couple of businessmen. In addition to allegedly stealing more than $20,000 from the D.A.'s own 84-year-old adopted mother.

    With his head bowed and reading from a statement, Burke told reporters that he had reviewed all the charges in the case. And not once in the 50-page indictment, Burke said, did the government allege that the outcome of a single case had been altered by the alleged misconduct described in the indictment. And that's out of all of the thousands of cases prosecuted by the D.A.'s office in the past eight years that Williams was D.A., Burke said.

    Burke also said that the 50-page indictment was "devoid of a single allegation of a quid pro quo," meaning that Williams had accepted or extorted all those free gifts without promising to give back anything in return.

    Burke also said that Williams had agreed to a temporary suspension of his law license while the case against him was being prosecuted. But Williams plans to stay on as D.A., even though he's under indictment. He won't be practicing law, Burke said, but Williams will continue to function as an administrator.

    Burke took no questions from reporters. Before he read his statement, Burke hustled Williams through the rain and past a gaggle of reporters and photographers to a waiting car. Meanwhile, a single protester kept yelling, "Seth Williams, you betrayed the trust of the black community. Seth Williams, you need to resign."

    The D.A.'s new lawyer has his work cut out for him. The government has already filed a motion to brand the trial as complex, so it won't be bound by the speedy trial act.

    "The case is sufficiently unusual and complex due to the nature of the prosecution and the number of witnesses and documents," the U.S. Attorney wrote in their motion. Already, the government has obtained some 80,000 pages of documents through subpoenas, and more than 300,000 emails.

    So far, there are 200 witness statements in the case, and 17 grand jury transcripts, the U.S. Attorney's Office wrote.

    And while the D.A. remains in office, expect the feds to make Burke's job even more difficult. By running down even more evidence against Rufus. And possibly even filing more charges in a superseding indictment.

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    Thomas A. Bergstrom, the lawyer for Msgr. William J. Lynn, is so mad at The Philadelphia Inquirer that he's threatened to sue the paper for libel. He's also planning to ask a judge to bar an Inky reporter from covering the upcoming retrial of his client.

    Here's what set Bergstrom off:

    In an April 1st photo caption that ran on the front of the local section of the newspaper, next to an update about the latest pretrial hearing in the case, the Inquirer wrote: "Msgr. William J. Lynn is accused of sexual misconduct."

    That isn't true. Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy, has never been accused of sexual misconduct.

    Msgr. Lynn is accused of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, for allowing a priest with a history of abuse -- Edward V. Avery -- to be placed back in ministry. Where he allegedly raped a 10-year-old altar boy named Danny Gallagher, AKA Billy Doe, an alleged victim whose story has since been revealed to be fake news.

    To make things worse, the Inky was guilty of bad timing. Philadelphia's newspaper of record libeled Msgr. Lynn seven weeks before lawyers in the case are scheduled to begin picking a jury on May 15th.

    At 11:16 a.m. on April 1st, Bergstrom promptly fired off an angry email bomb from his iPhone to Inky reporter Joe Slobodzian:

    "The caption below my client's photo is outrageous and u know it. He has never been accused of sexual misconduct. You and your paper are poisoning the jury pool. I can't fathom why u would knowingly do such a thing. This is the reason people don't trust the press, because u rarely get it right.You and your paper have just bought yourselves a law suit; in addition I intend to ask Judge [Gwendolyn] Bright to bar u from any further proceedings in this case."

    Slobodzian, who did not write the caption, nevertheless apologized for it in an email sent at 12:26 p.m. that same day:

    "Tom:

    There is no question that the caption in the paper is incorrect. I had nothing to do with writing the caption and did not see it before it was published in Saturday's paper. It will be corrected in Sunday's paper. I checked the story's online presentation. The caption there was correct.

    I think you've known me long enough to understand that I care deeply about getting it right. When I make a mistake, I correct it as soon as it's brought to my attention. I don't believe my articles about Msgr. Lynn have been unfair or inaccurate. No one has asked me to correct any errors. And though this caption was not my error, I will see that it is corrected.

    Best,

    Joe."

    "OK, thank you for that," Bergstrom wrote back at 1:05 p.m.

    Seven minutes later, Bergstrom wrote the reporter another email.

    "I have sent your response to Monsignor," Bergstrom wrote the reporter. "I am certain it will be appreciated."

    "Thanks for the reply, Tom," Slobodzian wrote back. "I am sick over this. Joe."

    As the reporter promised, the Inky promptly ran a correction the next day that said:

    "Clearing the record: A caption below a picture of Msgr. William J. Lynn in Saturday's Inquirer incorrectly described the criminal charge he faces in his upcoming trial. Lynn is charged with child endangerment involving his supervisory role over priests accused of sexual misconduct. He is not charged with sexual misconduct."

    Asked for comment, Amy Buckman, a spokesperson for Philadelphia Media Network, the parent company of the Inquirer, released a statement Sunday from PMN Editor and Vice-President Gabriel Escobar that said:

    "The caption below a photo that accompanied Saturday's Inquirer story about Msgr. William J. Lynn was wrong. As soon as we were made aware of the error, we checked the caption on the online photo that accompanied the story on Philly.com. That caption was correct. In today's print edition of the Inquirer, we acknowledged the mistake and corrected the record.

    We are sorry for the error."

    Sadly, this mistake didn't happen in a vacuum. The Inquirer has been guilty of slanting news coverage against Lynn and the church since the day the 2011 grand jury indictment was released.

    The alleged victim in the Lynn case is Danny Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe." He's the former altar boy who improbably claimed he was viciously raped as a 10 and 11-year old by three different assailants at St. Jerome's Church in Northeast Philadelphia. The alleged perpetrators, Gallagher claimed, were two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher.

    To buy Gallagher's story, however, you would have to believe that despite the horrific abuse, nobody, including Gallagher's father the Philadelphia police sergeant, his mother the registered nurse, his older brother, who went to the same school and was also an altar boy there -- as well as all of the priests, teachers and nuns at St. Jerome's  -- ever saw a thing.

    Even though the Gallagher family lived less than a mile away from the church, and the parents were so conscientious they drove their altar boy sons to and from Mass.

    The alleged facts in Gallagher's stories have been contradicted by police interviews with Gallagher's own mother, brother, and the teachers, priests and nuns at St. Jerome's. In addition to church records, and calendars kept by Gallagher's mother that included all the dates her sons served as altar boys.

    On this blog, in a long analysis for National Catholic Reporter and in a cover story for Newsweek, I have outed Gallagher and documented the many holes in this legal travesty including:

    -- More than 20 factual mistakes in the grand jury report, including blatant rewrites of grand jury witness testimony to fit preconceived story lines cooked up by the D.A.'s office.

    -- Formerly confidential police records, grand jury testimony, and depositions in a civil suit. And the alleged victim's own medical records that show the defendant was telling radically different stories, complete with numerous contradictory allegations of rape, which he later admitted weren't true, against neighbors, teachers, and an older boy. Allegations that a defense lawyer characterized as a "fantasy of sexual abuse."

    When questioned about all of this in a civil deposition, Gallagher responded by admitting that many of his past allegations weren't true, such as being sexually abused by neighbors, teachers and an older boy, as well as claiming to being a former professional surfer and a paramedic. And when questioned about other discrepancies in his stories, Gallagher responded by saying he couldn't remember more than 130 times.

    -- The reports of two forensic psychiatrists, who examined Gallagher extensively and concluded he wasn't credible, that he had lied to his doctors and psychiatrists. One of those forensic psychiatrists plowed through Gallagher's extensive medical records from more than 20 doctors, drug clinics and hospitals. And he concluded that the medical records disproved all of Gallagher's claims made in a civil suit of various physical and mental injuries resulting from the alleged rapes.

    Despite this avalanche of factual material, the Inquirer has kept its head buried in the sand, blindly clinging to the original but completely discredited story line. As told by Gallagher and immortalized in the mistake-filled grand jury report that's still posted online at the website of our corrupt district attorney, Seth Williams. He's the guy who has refused to resign from office after he was hit with a 23-count federal indictment for allegedly taking bribes, committing extortion, honest services fraud and wire fraud.

    Throughout Lynn's legal ordeal, the Inquirer has:

    -- Refused to out Gallagher, whom they have habitually identified as "Billy Doe" and "the victim," before they started calling him "the accuser."

    -- Said thanks but no thanks when I offered them all the confidential records in the case, with no strings attached, so they could do their own investigation.

    -- Turned down a $58,000 ad from the Catholic League that called attention to the factual problems with the case.

    -- Published 43 articles in the past seven years that passed off the claims of Billy Doe and that intellectually dishonest grand jury report as gospel, without ever mentioning any of the problems with the case and the mistakes in the grand jury report.

    -- Refused to report on a legal challenge filed by Lynn's lawyers that showed how the original state law that Lynn was charged with breaking -- endangering the welfare of a child -- didn't apply to Lynn. It's an argument that the state Superior Court agreed with when they overturned Lynn's conviction for the first time, in 2013. But when an Inquirer reporter was shown the original brief outlining the problems with the child endangerment law, he told Lynn's lawyers my editor isn't interested in this.

    -- Cited the Billy Doe case on the editorial page as a reason for expanding the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania so that alleged victims of sex abuse can file more civil lawsuits against the church.

    The most recent development in the case that further proves Billy Doe is a fraud who sent four innocent men to jail for imaginary crimes: Joe Walsh, the retired detective who led the D.A.'s investigation into Billy Doe's claims, has come forward to testify about prosecutorial misconduct. On the witness stand in pretrial hearings in the Msgr. Lynn case, Walsh has testified about numerous factual discrepancies in Gallagher's stories and the many falsehoods that he caught Gallagher in.

    And, Walsh testified, when he told Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen about it, she allegedly replied, "You're killing my case."

    Last week, I wrote on this blog about another highly publicized case of sexual abuse, the scandal at Penn State.

    What's new is a previously unknown 110-page report done in 2012 by a special agent investigating whether a high-level security clearance should have been renewed for Graham Spanier. He's the former Penn State president accused of endangering the welfare of a child by not reporting a 2001 incident where Jerry Sandusky was spotted naked in the showers cavorting with a boy.

    In his report, FIS Special Agent John Snedden concluded that Spanier's security clearance should be renewed because the alleged shower incident was reported to Spanier by two administrators as merely "horese play." There was no evidence that a sex crime was committed at Penn State, Snedden  concluded, and no evidence of a coverup. Because, Snedden said, there was nothing to cover up.

    I asked PMN spokesperson Amy Buckman and Editor Escobar, why the Inquirer didn't cover the Snedden report, or the avalanche of facts that have come to light in recent years in the Billy Doe case.

    "We aren't commenting on that," she wrote.

    Back when I went to Journalism School, we were told it was our job to hold everyone accountable. There were no sacred cows.

    But when it comes to sex abuse, as far as the Inquirer is concerned, alleged victims are granted anonymity, even when their story has been exposed as a hoax. While the newspaper simultaneously hangs defendants out to dry.

    When it comes to sex abuse, as far as the Inquirer is concerned, only the alleged victims and the prosecutors and the plaintiff's lawyers are telling the truth.

    If there's any evidence to the contrary, it's the Inquirer's policy is to willfully ignore it.

    Whether that evidence is plastered on the website of the National Catholic Reporter.

    Or on the cover of Newsweek.

    Or in 110 pages of a formerly confidential report written by a special agent for the feds.

    There is only one truth. And don't bother anybody at the Inquirer with any evidence to the contrary. Because they don't want to disturb the sacred cows grazing in the newsroom.




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    Alex Brandon/AP
    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    At the Graham Spanier trial last month, Mike McQueary, the alleged whistleblower in the Penn State sex abuse case, made a surprising disclosure from the witness stand that backfired on the prosecutors who called him to testify.

    On March 21st, Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka asked McQueary when he first heard that Jerry Sandusky was going to get arrested. Sandusky is the retired coach that McQueary allegedly saw naked in the Penn State showers with a boy.

    It was during a bye week in the 2011 football season, McQueary told Ditka.

    "I was on my way to Boston for recruiting and I was going from the F terminal over to the B terminals over in Philadelphia Airport," McQueary said. "And there was one of those little trams. The AGs called," he said, referring to the state attorney general's office. And the AGs, according to McQueary, "said we're going to arrest folks and we are going to leak it out."

    Then, McQueary, perhaps catching himself, said, "Let me back up a little bit. We heard rumors that I had heard that -- the week before that arrests were imminent and that it was going to be more than Jerry Sandusky."

    The state Attorney General's office has a known problem with leaks. Former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane lost her job after she was convicted last August of nine criminal charges, including leaking "confidential investigative information" in 2014 from a past grand jury probe to Chris Brennan, then a Philadelphia Daily News reporter.

    Kane had to resign from her job and was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail after she was convicted of perjury, conspiracy, leaking grand jury information and then lying about it, to cover it up.

    In the Jerry Sandusky case, prosecutors testified at a post-trial hearing last August that they had no knowledge of how the media found out that Sandusky and others in the Penn State scandal were about to be arrested. And how the media knew that there was a grand jury investigation of Sandusky in progress.

    "If we can establish there were leaks by government agents, it could result in dismissal of case," Al Lindsay, Sandusky's lawyer, told reporters after the appeals hearing last August.

    When reached for comment late today, Lindsay was on the case.

    "We received a portion of that transcript from Mike McQueary," Lindsay said. "And it's certainly something we're studying to see whether or not it might be a fertile field for us to develop with regard to Mr. Sandusky's motion for a new trial," Lindsay said on behalf of client, now serving 30 to 60 years in prison.

    A spokesperson for the state Attorney General's press office, where they're known for hiding under their desks, did not respond to a request for comment.

    On the witness stand at the Spanier trial last month, McQueary testified that immediately after the AG's office told him they were going to leak news of the impending arrests, he ran over to the office of Assistant Athletic Director Fran Ganter.

    "I remember it clearly," McQueary testified. "And I said, you gotta call Timmy's. Those guys are in trouble."

    "Tim Curley," Ditka asked, referring to the former athletic director at Penn State.

    "Yeah," McQueary testified. "And, you know, he kind of passed it off or shrugged me off," McQueary said about Ganter. "I'm not sure they believed me. And that's all that happened with that."

    "So, a week later, I'm in that airport and I get a call," McQueary testified. "And then the media starts gettin' ahold of everything, and it's all kind of downhill after that."

    Amen, brother.

    When McQueary testified about the AG planning to "leak it out," I was in the courtroom but did not grasp the significance of what McQueary said. I had to have others explain it to me. And then it took a while to get the court transcript via a money order sent  out snail mail to the Dauphin County Courthouse, to verify what McQueary had to say.

    But Penn State veterans got it right away. Like Maribeth Roman Schmidt, the head of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship.

    "Mike's assertion under oath that the AGs leaked information about the PSU admins' arrests confirms suspicions we've had all along about prosecutorial misconduct on a number of levels," she said.

    "It's now exceedingly obvious that the Attorney General was trying to manipulate public perception of the Penn State case from the very beginning, and they were willing to commit a crime to do it."

    "This bombshell places the integrity of the entire Penn State case squarely at the feet of [newly elected AG] Josh Shapiro," Schmidt said about the new Attorney General who's yet to come out of hiding.

    "If he's serious about restoring confidence in the AG's office," Schmidt said, "There is no other place for him to start than reviewing the conduct of prosecutors in this case from top to bottom."

    Ray Blehar, who writes a blog, notpsu.blogspot.com, first reported the McQueary admission on March 25th, after he was tipped by Schmidt, who called it the "shocker of the day."

    "McQueary Becomes Real Whistleblower," was Blehar's headline. In his blog post, Blehar quoted a transcript from McQueary's whistleblower and libel suit against Penn State, where McQueary scored a total of $12 million.

    In the transcript from the McQueary trial, McQueary recounts how he was traveling to Boston, from Philadelphia Airport terminal B. It was Friday Nov. 4th after the Illinois game. McQueary testified how he got a phone call from then Deputy Attorney General Jonelle Eshbach.

    "And she said a screw up had occurred or some kind of leak or a computer system malfunction, and she said all of the charges are going to be released," McQueary testified.

    "However, it appears that McQueary's testimony at the Spanier trial goes a step further to state that Eshbach intentionally leaked the information," Blehar wrote.

    "For years, Penn Staters have complained about the lack of an investigation into the leaks related to Jerry Sandusky," Blehar wrote. "Now, AG Josh Shapiro has the name of at least one of the Sandusky leakers. And it came from the Commonwealth's star witness in the Sandusky and Spanier cases."

    Blehar called for Eshbach to be prosecuted "just as vigorously as former AG Kathleen Kane."

    Eschbach, now running for York County District Attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.

    For reporter John Ziegler, another regular chronicler of the Penn State scandal, the McQueary admission at the Spanier trial shines some light on a bigger picture.

    "Anyone who uses his brain can only interpret this statement as an accidental admission that, just as I have long assumed, the AG's office prematurely leaked the grand jury presentment so that their favorite reporter, Sara Ganim, could 'find' it and start to set their false narrative," Ziegler said.

    "Once you realize this is true, you must then also conclude that the entire basis of Ganim's article from March of that year revealing the existence of the grand jury was illegal AG leaks intended to jumpstart a case that was extremely weak because they had no credible accusers."

    Related: Ziegler responds to those who want to get him fired.

    Blehar: Is Frank Fina facing a perjury rap?


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    By Ralph Cipriano
    Thanks, Mom

    On the witness stand under cross-examination, Rufus Seth Williams explained how he paid for his plane fare, rental car and hotel accommodations when he attended the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.


    Williams said he charged some $1,600 in travel expenses to an American Express credit card that belonged to his adoptive mother, Imelda. But he was in trouble in Election Court because he neglected to report those American Express charges as income.


    Judge Allan L. Tereshko was incredulous. “You used your mother’s credit card?” the judge asked.


    “That’s correct, Your Honor,” Williams replied.

    It happened eight years ago, long before the Philadelphia Board of Ethics fined Williams a record $62,000 this past January for failing to report gifts and income received between 2010 and $2015 for a total worth of $175,000.


    The rest of the story can be read here.

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    When he was investigating cold cases for NCIS, Special Agent John Snedden knew you always have to start from the beginning.

     "Let's take a deep breath," he said. "And let's go back to square one, to the source of the original allegation, to determine whether it's credible."

    On the Penn State campus in 2012, with national security at stake, that's just what Special Agent Snedden did on behalf of the U.S. government. And instead of finding a sex scandal or a cover-up in the cold case he was investigating in Happy Valley, Snedden said he discovered ample evidence of a "political hit job."

    Back in  2012, Snedden was working as a special agent for the Federal Investigative Services. His assignment: against the backdrop of the so-called Penn State sex abuse scandal, Snedden had to infiltrate the campus and determine whether former Penn State President Graham Spanier deserved to have his high-level national security clearance renewed.

    Snedden was investigating whether Spanier, who had just been fired, had acted honorably at Penn State, or whether he had orchestrated a coverup of sex abuse. Because Snedden was tasked with determining whether Graham Spanier could still be trusted with access to America's most sensitive intelligence data.

    The focus was on Spanier, but to do that investigation properly, Snedden, a PSU alum himself, had to unravel a big mess at his old alma mater, with all the hoopla about that big sex scandal and the cover up.

    So Snedden began his job by starting at the beginning. By going back eleven years, to 2001, when Mike McQueary made his famous trip to the Penn State locker room. Where McQueary supposedly heard and saw a naked Jerry Sandusky cavorting in the showers with a young boy.

    But there was a problem. In the beginning, Snedden said, McQueary "told people he doesn't know what he saw exactly." McQueary said he heard "slapping sounds" in the shower, Snedden said.

    "I've never had a rape case successfully prosecuted based only on sounds, and without credible victims and witnesses," Snedden said.

    "I don't think you can say he's credible," Snedden said about McQueary. Why? Because he told "so many different stories," Snedden said. McQueary's stories about what he thought he saw or heard in the shower ranged from rough horseplay and/or wrestling all the way up to sex.

     Which story, Snedden asked, do you want to believe?

    "Everybody that he [McQueary] spoke to did not say it was sexual in any fashion," Snedden said. McQueary told Joe Paterno, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz "that it was not sexual, and that he didn't see it with his own eyes," Snedden said.

    "What the hell exactly are you looking at," Snedden asked.

    "None of it makes any sense," Snedden said about McQueary's tale. "It's not a credible story."

    Back in 2001, Snedden said, Mike McQueary was a 26-year-old, 6-foot-5, 240-pound  former college quarterback used to running away from 350-pound defensive linemen.

    If McQueary actually saw Jerry Sandusky raping a young boy in the shower, Snedden said, he probably would have done something to stop it.

    "I think your moral compass would cause you to act and not just flee," Snedden said.

    If McQueary really thought he was witnessing a sexual assault on a child, Snedden said, wouldn't he have gotten between the victim and a "wet, defenseless naked 57-year-old guy in the shower?"

    Or, if McQueary decided he wasn't going to physically intervene, Snedden said, then why didn't he call the cops from the Lasch Building? The locker room where McQueary supposedly saw Sandusky with the boy in the showers.

    When he was a baby NCIS agent,  Snedden said, a veteran agent who was his mentor would always ask the same question.

    "So John," the veteran agent would say, "Where is the crime?"

    At Penn State, Snedden didn't find one.

    Working on behalf of FIS, Snedden wrote a 110-page report, all in capital letters, where he catalogued the evidence that led him to conclude that McQueary wasn't a credible witness.

    In his report, Snedden interviewed Thomas G. Poole, Penn State's vice president for administration. Poole told Snedden he was in Graham Spanier's office when news of the Penn State scandal broke, and Penn State's then-senior Vice President Gary Schultz came rushing in.

    Schultz blurted out that "McQueary never told him this was sexual," Snedden wrote. Schultz was shocked by what McQueary told the grand jury, Snedden wrote.

    "He [McQueary] told the grand jury that he reported to [Schultz] that this was sexual," Schultz told Poole and Spanier.

    "While speaking, Schultz shook his head back and forth as in disbelief," Snedden wrote about Poole's observations. Poole "believes it appeared there was a lot of disbelief in the room regarding this information."

    To Snedden, McQueary's many different stories made him a non-credible witness.


    "I've never had a rape victim or a witness to a rape tell multiple stories about how it happened," Snedden said. "If it's real it's always been the same thing."

    But that's not what happened with McQueary. And Snedden thinks he knows why.

    "In my view, the evolution of what we saw as a result of Mike McQueary's interview with the AG's office" was the transformation of a story about rough  horseplay into something sexual, Snedden said.

    "I think it would be orchestrated by them," Snedden said of the AG's office, which has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

    In Snedden's report, he interviewed Schuyler J. McLaughlin, Penn State's facility security officer at the university's applied research laboratory. McLaughlin is a former NCIS agent himself, as well as a lawyer. He told Snedden that McQueary initially was confused by what he saw.

    "What McQueary saw, apparenty it looked sexual to him and he may have been worried about what would happen to him," Snedden wrote. "Because McQueary wanted to keep his job" at Penn State.

    [McLaughlin] "believes Curley and Schultz likely asked tough questions and those tough questions likely caused McQueary to question what he actually saw," Snedden wrote. McLaughlin "believes that after questioning, McQueary likely did not know what he actually saw," Snedden wrote. "And McQueary "probably realized he could not prove what he saw."

    There was also confusion over the date of the alleged shower incident. At the grand jury, McQueary testified that it took place on March 1, 2002. But at the Sandusky trial, McQueary changed the date of the shower incident to Feb. 9, 2001.

    There was also confusion over the identity of the boy in the showers. In 2011, the Pennsylvania State Police interviewed a man suspected of being "Victim No. 2." Allan Myers was then a 24-year-old married Marine who had been involved in Sandusky's Second Mile charity since he was a third-grader.

    Myers, however, told the state police he "does not believe the allegations that have been raised" against Sandusky, and that another accuser was "only out to get some money." Myers said he used to work out with Sandusky since he was 12 or 13, and that "nothing inappropriate occurred while showering with Sandusky." Myers also told the police that Sandusky never did anything that "made him uncomfortable."

    Myers even wrote a letter of support for Sandusky that was published in the Centre Daily Times, where he described Sandusky as his "best friend, tutor, workout mentor and more." Myers lived with Sandusky while he attended college. When Myers got married, he invited Jerry and Dottie Sandusky to the wedding.

    Then, Myers got a lawyer and flipped, claiming that Sandusky assaulted him ten times. Myers collected $3 million in what was supposed to be a confidential settlement with Penn State as Victim No. 2.

    But at the Sandusky trial, the state attorney general's office deemed Myers an unreliable witness and did not call him to testify against Sandusky.

    Instead, the prosecutor told the jury, the identity of Victim No. 2, the boy in the showers, "was known only to God."

    Mike McQueary may not have known for sure what he witnessed in the Penn State showers. And the cops and the prosecutors may not know who Victim No. 2 really was. But John Snedden had it figured out pretty early what was the source of the trouble at Penn State.

     

     

    Snedden recalled that four days into his 2012 investigation, he called his bosses to let them know that despite all the hoopla in the media, there was no sex scandal at Penn State.

    "I just want to make sure you realize that this is a political hit job," Snedden recalled telling his bosses. "The whole thing is political."

    Why did the Penn State situation get blown so far out of proportion?

    "When I get a case, I independently investigate it," Snedden said. "It seems like that was not the case here. It wasn't an independent inquiry. It was an orchestrated effort to make the circumstances fit the alleged crime."

    How did they get it so wrong at Penn State?

    "To put it in a nutshell, I would say there was an exceptional rush to judgment to satisfy people," Snedden said. "So they wouldn't have to answer any more questions."

    "It's a giant rush to judgement," Snedden said. "There was no debate."

    "Ninety-nine percent of it is hysteria," Snedden said. Ninety-nine percent of what happened at Penn State boiled down to people running around yelling, "Oh my God, we've got to do something immediately," Snedden said.

    It didn't matter that most of the people Snedden talked to at Penn State couldn't believe that Graham Spanier would have ever participated in a coverup, especially involving the abuse of a child.

    Carolyn A. Dolbin, an administrative assistant to the PSU president, told Snedden that Spanier told her "that his father has physically abused him when [Spanier] was a child, and as a result [Spanier] had a broken nose and needed implants."

    Spanier himself told Snedden, "He had been abused as a child and he would not stand for that," meaning a coverup, Snedden wrote.

    Snedden couldn't believe the way the Penn State Board of Trustees decided to fire both Spanier and Paterno.

    There was no investigation, no determination of the facts. Instead, the officials running the show at Penn State wanted to move on as fast as possible from the scandal by blaming a few scapegoats.

    At an executive session, the vice chairman of the PSU board, John Surma, the CEO of U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh, told his fellow PSU board members, "We need to get rid of Paterno and Spanier," Snedden said. And then Surma asked, "Does anybody disagree with that?"

    "There wasn't even a vote," Snedden said. In Snedden's report, Dr. Rodney Erickson, the former PSU president, told Snedden that Spanier "is collateral damage in all of this."

    Erickson didn't believe there was a coverup at Penn State, because of what Spanier had told him.

    "I was told it was just horsing around in the shower," Spanier told Erickson, as recounted in Snedden's report. "How do you call the police on that."

    On the night the board of trustees fired Paterno, they kept calling Paterno's house, but there was no answer. Finally, the board sent a courier over to Paterno's house, and asked him to call Surma's cell phone.


    When Paterno called, Surma was ready to tell the coach three things. But he only got to his first item.

    "Surma was only able to tell Paterno that he was no longer football coach before Paterno hung up," Snedden wrote.

     In Snedden's report, Spanier is quoted as telling Frances Anne Riley, a member of the board of trustees, "I was so naive."

    "He means that politically," Snedden said about Spanier. "He was so naive to understand that a governor would go to that level to jam him. How a guy could be so vindictive," Snedden said, referring to the former governor, who could not be reached for comment.

    When the Penn State scandal hit, "It was a convenient disaster," Snedden said. Because it gave the governor a chance "to fulfill vendettas."

    The governor was angry at Spanier for vocally opposing Corbett's plan to cut Penn State's budget by 52 percent, Snedden wrote. In his report, Spanier, who was put under oath by Snedden and questioned for eight hours, stated that he had been the victim of "vindictiveness from the governor."

    In Snedden's report, Spanier "explained that Gov. Corbett is an alumni of Lebanon Valley College [a private college], that Gov, Corbett is a strong supporter of the voucher system, wherein individuals can choose to utilize funding toward private eduction, as opposed to public education." 

    Corbett, Spanier told Snedden, "is not fond of Penn State, and is not fond of public higher education."

    Spanier, Snedden wrote, "is now hearing that when the Penn State Board of Trustees was telling [Spanier] not to take action and that they [the Penn State Board of Trustees] were going to handle the situation, that the governor was actually exercising pressure on the [The Penn State Board of Trustees] to have [Spanier] leave."


    The governor, Snedden said, "wants to be the most popular guy in Pennsylvania." But Spanier is fighting him politically, and Joe Paterno is a football legend.

    Suddenly, the Penn State scandal comes along, and Corbett can lobby the Penn State Board of Trustees to get rid of both Spanier and Paterno.

    "And suddenly Corbett" starts showing up at Penn State Board of Trustees meetings, where the governor was a board member, but didn't usually bother to go. Only now Corbett "is the knight in shining armor," Snedden said. Because he's the guy cleaning up that horrible sex abuse scandal at Penn State.

    "The wrong people are being looked at here," Snedden said. As far as Snedden was concerned, the board of trustees at Penn State had no reason to fire Spanier or Paterno.

    ""It's a political vendetta by somebody that has an epic degree of vindictiveness and will stop at nothing apparently," Snedden said about Corbett.

    The whole thing is appalling," Snedden said. "It's absurd that somebody didn't professionally investigate this thing from the get-go."

    As far as Snedden is concerned, the proof that the investigation was tampered with is shown in the flip-flop done by Cynthia Baldwin, Penn State's former counsel.

    "You've got a clear indication that Cynthia Baldwin was doing whatever they wanted her to do," Snedden said about Baldwin's cooperation with the AG's office.

    In her interview with Snedden, Baldwin called Spanier "a very smart man, a man of integrity." She  told Snedden that she trusted Spanier, and trusted his judgment. This was true even during "the protected privileged period" from 2010 on, Baldwin told Snedden. While Baldwin was acting as Spanier's counsel, and, on the advice of her lawyer, wasn't supposed to discuss that so-called privileged period with Snedden.

    Baldwn subsequently became a cooperating witness who testified against Spanier, Curley and Schultz.

    Another aspect of the hysterical rush to judgment by Penn State: the university paid out $93 million to the alleged victims of Sandusky, without vetting anything. None of the alleged victims were deposed by lawyers; none were examined by forensic psychiatrists.

    Instead, Penn State just wrote the checks, no questions asked. The university's free-spending prompted a lawsuit from Penn State's insurance carrier, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association Insurance Company.

    So Snedden wrote a report that called for renewing Spanier's high-level security clearance. Because Snedden didn't find any evidence of a coverup at Penn State. Because there was nothing to cover up.

    "The circumstances surrounding [Spanier's] departure from his position as PSU president do not cast doubt on [Spanier's] current reliability, trustworthiness or good judgment and do not cast doubt on his ability to properly safeguard national security information," Snedden wrote.

    Meanwhile, the university paid $8.3 million for a report from former FBI Director Louie Freeh, who reached the opposite conclusion that Snedden had. Freeh found that there had been a top-down coverup of a sex crime at Penn State that was orchestrated by Spanier.

    What does Snedden think of the Louie Freeh report?

    "It's an embarrassment to law enforcement," Snedden said.

     Louie Freeh, Snedden said, is a political appointee.

    "Maybe he did an investigation at one point in his life, but not on this one," Snedden said about the report Freeh wrote on Penn State.

     What about the role the media played in creating an atmosphere of hysteria?

    "Sadly, I think they've demonstrated that investigative journalism is dead," Snedden said.

    If Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile, Snedden said, how did he survive a month-long investigation back in 1998 by the Penn State police, the State College police, the Centre County District Attorney's office, and the state Department of Child/Public Welfare?

    All of those agencies investigated Sandusky, after a mother complained about Jerry taking a shower with her 11-year-old son. Were all those agencies were bamboozled? They all couldn't catch a pedophile in action?

    Another problem for people who believe that Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile: When the cops came to Sandusky's house armed with search warrants, they didn't find any porn.

    Have you ever heard of a pedophilia case where large caches of pornography weren't found, I asked Snedden.

    "No," he said. "Having worked child sex abuse cases before, they [pedophiles] go from the porn to actually acting it out. It's a crescendo."

    "I'm more inclined" to believe the results of the 1998 investigation, Snedden said. "Because they're not politically motivated."

    Snedden said he's had "minimalistic contact" with Sandusky that basically involved watching him behave at a high school football game.

    "I really do think he's a big kid," Snedden said of Sandusky.

    Does he believe there's any credible evidence that Sandusky is a pedophile?

    "Certainly none that's come to light," he said.

    Does Sandusky deserve a new trial?

    "Without a doubt," Snedden said. Because the first time around, when he was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in jail, Sandusky didn't have a real trial, Snedden said.

    "To have a real trial, you should actually have real credible witnesses and credible victims," Snedden said. "And no leaks from the grand jury."

    It also would have been a fair trial, Snedden said, if the people who Sandusky would have called as defense witnesses hadn't already been indicted by the state attorney general's office.

    While he was investigating Spanier, Snedden said, he had his own dust-up with the state Attorney General's office. It came in the form of an unwanted phone call from Anthony Sassano, the lead investigator in the AG's office on the Sandusky case.

    Sassano didn't go through the appropriate channels when he called, Snedden said. But Sassano demanded to see Snedden's report.

    Snedden said he told Sassano, sorry, but that's the property of the federal government. Sassano, Snedden said, responded by "spewing obscenities."

    "It was something to the effect of  I will fucking see your ass and your fucking report at the grand jury," Snedden recalled Sassano telling him.

    Sure enough, Snedden was served with a subpoena from the state AG's office on October 22, 2012. But the feds sent the subpoena back saying they didn't have to honor it.

    "The doctrine of sovereign immunity precludes a state court from compelling a federal employee, pursuant to its subpoena and contempt powers, from offering testimony contrary to his agency's instructions," the feds wrote back to the state Attorney General's office.

    So what would it take to straighten out the mess at Penn State?

    "The degree of political involvement in this case is so high," Snedden said.

    "You need to take an assistant U.S. Attorney from Arizona or somewhere who doesn't know anything about Penn State," Snedden said. Surround him with a competent staff of investigators, and turn them loose for 30 days.

    So they can "find out what the hell happened."

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    A bunch of drug dealers who have already had their convictions overturned are about to hit the lottery.

    In the courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Timothy R. Rice, a group of lawyers are quietly negotiating a "global settlement" for 75 civil rights suits filed against the city of Philadelphia.

    The plaintiffs in these lawsuits are convicted drug dealers who have already had their convictions overturned because of alleged police misconduct. Now, the drug dealers are looking to cash in at the civil courts for their alleged pain and suffering at the hands of the cops who arrested them. The bad news for Philly taxpayers: once these 75 cases are settled, there are another 225 more cases right behind them that will also be settled, cases featuring 225 more freed drug dealers anxious to cash in.

    The price of settling these 300 civil rights cases will no doubt cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. Taxpayers also spending millions more to hire 10 lawyers from two private law firms to defend these civil rights cases in court. But the city has given up, and is now in the process of negotiating a surrender to the drug dealers and their lawyers.

    Another interesting aspect to the city's lottery for drug dealers: one of the defense lawyers in the lead case whose client is about to cash in is Larry Krasner, a Philadelphia civil rights lawyer.

    Krasner's law firm has also taken a leadership role in negotiating the global settlement for the 75 cases now before the magistrate.

    This is the same Larry Krasner who also happens to be running for the Democratic nomination for district attorney of Philadelphia. With, one would assume, the fervent support of every drug dealer in town.

    A spokesman for Krasner, Rich Garella, wrote in an email,  "As this is an ongoing proceeding, Mr. Krasner would not be able to make any comment on it."

    Garella went on to say that as a candidate for district attorney, "Mr. Krasner is campaigning for common sense reforms that would reverse mass incarceration policies and save millions for local taxpayers in Philadelphia."

    That's of course after Mr. Krasner obtains millions of dollars on behalf of the drug dealers of Philadelphia, who have already been liberated from mass incarceration.

    The city's ongoing lottery for drug dealers was made possible by the rash and irresponsible actions of our corrupt district attorney, Rufus Seth Williams. That's the same Rufus Seth Williams who's already under a 23-count federal indictment alleging bribery, extortion, wire fraud and honest services fraud.

    Yes, our corrupt D.A., who refuses to resign, started this whole mess by tarring and feathering the reputations of the former narcotics officers targeted in the civil rights lawsuits.

    Even though, court records show, when he was trashing the narcs, our D.A. never had one shred of evidence of police misconduct to back up his actions that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

    When the civil rights cases from the drug dealers first hit the courts, U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond chose a dozen cases to be "bellwether cases." These are tests cases intended to try a widely contested issue, such as whether a bunch of drug dealers had valid civil rights claims against the city because of alleged police misconduct.

    The lead bellwether case was McIntyre v. Liciardello, where plaintiffs James McIntyre, Wayne Layre, and Thomas Basara are suing the city for alleged civil rights violations. The plaintiffs claim that the day they got raided, the cops had no probable cause to believe any illegal conduct was going on, and that they entered the premises without a search warrant.

    Krasner is listed on the court docket as the lawyer who represents McIntyre. On Feb. 7th, Judge Diamond appointed three lawyers to represent the interests of the plaintiffs in the first 75 cases to be settled, with those lawyers "to be selected by the firm of Krasner & Young."

    Judge Diamond also appointed three lawyers to represent the interests of the city, along with the city solicitor. The chosen lawyers, according to the court docket, were supposed to meet with Judge Diamond to identify "common factors relevant to assessing settlement value, etc."

    On April 5th, Judge Diamond referred the first batch of 75 civil rights cases to U.S. Magistrate Rice "for settlement purposes." On the docket, the minutes of two settlement conferences held before Judge Rice on Feb. 16th and May 4th, were posted, but the press and public can't read them, because those records are confidential.

    The city also filed a motion, approved by the judge, to seal all pre-trial discovery and depositions in the civil rights cases to the press and public. The outside lawyers hired by the city have also declined to comment.

    So Philly's lottery for drug dealers is being conducted behind an official wall of silence. That's a shame because the people on the other side of that wall, the taxpayers, are going to get stuck with the bill.

    The lead bellwether case, McIntyre v. Liciardello, arises out of a June 23, 2011 raid on an auto body shop at 529-35 W. Sedgwick Street that was conducted by Officer Thomas Liciardello and other officers from the police department's Narcotics Field Unit South.

    Layre, according to his lawsuit, was a self-employed auto mechanic and welder who claims he was falsely arrested and robbed of $34,400 by the cops. McIntyre claims he was robbed of $9,400 in cash. Basara claims he was badly beaten by the cops and denied medical treatment.

    The cops targeted in the lawsuit have heard these claims before.

    "McIntyre's complaint is a simple reinstatement of the original, unsuccessful criminal indictment," wrote James W. Christie and Michael H. Malin on Feb. 1st. The two lawyers were hired by the city to defend Lt. Robert Otto, the former supervisor of the narcs, who is a named defendant in the lawsuit.

    In McIntyre's complaint, he cites a Dec. 3, 2012 two-paragraph letter written by D.A. Rufus Seth Williams to then-police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

    The two-paragraph letter is the root of all the civil rights lawsuits. In the letter, Williams announced to the police commissioner that the D.A.'s office would no longer prosecute any arrests made by Lt. Otto and five former members of the Narcotics Field Unit South that Otto used to supervise.

    "The District Attorney has never explained the basis for his decision," the lawyers for Lt. Otto wrote.

    Amen.

    Twice, court records show, the public defender's office asked Ed McCann, former first district attorney, to turn over any so-called "Brady material" that would show evidence of police misconduct.

    The public defender's office believed that Rufus Seth Williams must have had some evidence in hand when he wrote his letter to the police commissioner that basically torched the careers of the narcotics officers he targeted, without due process of any kind.

    Brady material refers to a landmark 1963 case, Brady v. Maryland, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors must turn over any evidence that might be beneficial to defendants.

    But on two occasions, court records show, McCann was pressed to turn over so-called Brady material. And twice, McCann admitted that there was no Brady material. And that the D.A. wrote his letter trashing the narcs based not on any evidence of police misconduct, but on so-called "prosecutorial discretion."

    McCann, through a spokesperson, has declined to comment on his actions.

    To finish the job he started, D.A. Williams, according to a defamation suit filed by the cops, leaked the letter he wrote the police commissioner to Fox 29. 

    The leak went through Tasha Jamerson, then the D.A.'s spokesperson, who was acting under McCann's orders, according to the defamation suit. At the time of the leak, Jamerson, a former Fox 29 reporter, was married to the managing editor at Fox 29.

    If there was any justice in the Philadelphia court system, Rufus Seth Williams and Ed McCann would be hauled  under subpoenas into federal court tomorrow at 9 a.m., sworn in as witnesses, and forced to testify about why they did what they did.

    But this is Philadelphia, where we have an alleged criminal still in office as our chief law enforcement officer. And the only thing left to figure out is just how many millions the horrible judgment and irresponsible actions of Rufus Seth Williams and Ed McCann will cost the taxpayers.

    The city could have instructed its hired defense lawyers to fight it out in court on the bellwether cases. D.A. Williams, it has already been proven, had no evidence in hand to back him up when he wrote that rash letter to the police commissioner. 

    Most of the drug dealers who filed these lawsuits pleaded guilty to the charges. Often, those pleas came after the drug dealers were caught with large quantities of drugs, large sums of money, as well as guns.

    If the city had the will to fight, it could prove in court that these drug dealers were lucky enough to have their convictions overturned. And that they do not deserve to exchange their get-out-of-jail-free cards into lottery tickets.

    But this is Philadelphia, where our head law enforcement official is accused of being a petty crook. Where one political party has run the city for the past 65 years, and corruption reigns. 

    If Philadelphia had a free and independent press, you'd be reading this story on the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer, instead of on this blog. But the sad state of the local media is a topic for another day.

    Meanwhile, the lawyers in magistrate court continue their efforts under cover of darkness to negotiate their surrender to the local drug dealers, and their lawyers.

    In the lead bellwether case of McIntyre v. Liciardello, the plaintiffs claim that Officer Thomas Liciardello and other officers "did extensive damage to autos, antique autos, antique motorcycles,
    parts and inventory in the shop," damage that amounted to $72,154.

    Lt. Otto, the lawsuit claims, "failed to supervise, monitor, prevent, sanction and report on" alleged misconduct by the narcs he was supervising.

    In court, Otto's lawyers asked McIntyre and his fellow plaintiffs to provide witness statements to back up his story of alleged police misconduct. The end result: McIntyre had nothing to offer. But when the lawyers who represent the city you're suing have already decided to surrender, it doesn't really matter.

    Otto's lawyers, however, say the cops saw McIntyre throw a cooler bag into a dumpster that contained 24 grams of crystal meth and a sock stuffed with $24,000.

    The police forfeiture unit subsequently raided Layre's account at National Penn Bank and Citizens Bank, along with a safety deposit box belonging to Layre, and they recovered $379,654 in cash. The cops also seized from the defendants $181,000 worth of crystal meth and numerous firearms.

    Wayne Layre was originally scheduled to tell his story in court in 2015. That's when six former members of the Narcotics Field Unit went on trial charged in a 26-count federal RICO indictment with the systematic beating and robbing of the drug dealers that they arrested.

    The federal indictment charged that the cops forced their way into Layre's auto body shop, kicked him in the groin, knocked his teeth out and hit him over the head with a steel bar before stealing $30,000.

    But Layre never got to tell his story in court. That's because he got busted a month before trial, on Feb. 25, 2015, along with 31 others as part of a heroin and meth trafficking ring operating in Montgomery County. That prompted the feds to drop Layre from the federal case against the narcs.

    At the federal trial, the six former narcotics officers were acquitted on all 47 charges on all 26 counts. 

    But in the city's criminal courts, the public defender and the D.A.'s office continued to act as if the narcs had been convicted of police misconduct. Layre was one of 899 convicted drug dealers who have had their convictions overturned after D.A. Williams wrote his letter to the police commissioner.

    And we're not quite done yet. There are 330 more cases that the public defender is seeking to overturn, cases involving more drug arrests made by the former members of the Narcotics Field Unit South.

    With the feds crawling all over our district attorney, you would think that the D.A.'s office might have second thoughts about green lighting the overturning of 330 more drug convictions.

    But you would be wrong. Because even though the boss is under indictment, down at the D.A.'s office, it's still business as usual.

    "As far as the remaining cases our concerned, we will continue to review them and make the decision about the next steps only after the review is completed," said Cameron Kline, a spokesman for the D.A.'s office.

    So if you're one of those lucky 330 convicted drug dealers who is about to get your conviction overturned, it may not be too late to get in on the lottery.

    Call the law offices of Larry Krasner right away. If he's not out campaigning for D.A., Larry will be standing by, waiting for your phone call.

    And if you're a drug dealer who's a registered Democrat, then you're even more fortunate. Because on May 16th, you can proudly cast your vote in the Democratic primary for Larry Krasner as our next District Attorney.



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    By George Anastasia

    Some of the guys in South Philadelphia are calling it "fake news."

    Others are using a more graphic description -- "bullshit."

    They are speaking, of course, of the story that Ralph Natale is spinning in his book, Last Don Standing, which went on sale last month.

    Natale discussed the book and his life in the Philadelphia underworld recently in an exclusive interview with Fox 29 crime reporter Dave Schratwieser.

    The rest of the story can be read here.

    0 0

    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    It was advertised on posters all over campus.

    At West Chester University on Tuesday night, the Department of Criminal Justice was presenting the latest in their "Crime & Justice Lecture Series."

    Previous lecturers included the former leader of the Pagans motorcycle gang. And a former member of the Mexican Mafia.

    On Tuesday, the latest attraction was a former Mafia hit man:

    "A poor kid from South Philly" who "survived three gunshots to the head, to become a federally protected witness who brought down the Philly mob," the posters said. "And then reinvented himself as a wildly successful car salesman."

    Yep, "John-John" Veasey, the former high school dropout, was appearing live at West Chester University to talk about his life in the Mafia and the witness protection program. And his current reincarnation as a born again, right-wing Republican, and multimillionaire car dealer.

    Veasey autographing his book for a student
    Veasey was the invited guest of Al DiGiacomo, a former Philly cop who is a criminal justice professor at West Chester U.

    "He's real," DiGiacomo told the students about his guest.

    Back in the 1990s, when he was captain of detectives in South Philadelphia, DiGiacomo was the commander whose men were chasing Veasey around town during a mob war. That war featured hits "downtown," as the locals refer to South Philly, and shootouts on the Expressway.

    At the lecture Tuesday night, DiGiacomo told some 200 students about the first time he ever laid eyes on John Veasey.

    On the frigid night of Jan. 14, 1994, an unconscious Veasey was lying in a bed in the emergency room at Jefferson University Hospital.

    Veasey was all bandaged up and had tubes attached to him. He had just been shot three times in the head in an attempted gangland assassination.

    Standing with DiGiacomo at the bedside vigil were some FBI agents, DiGiacomo recalled. Veasey's doctors weren't optimistic.

    "We don't expect him to live," the doctors told the cops and FBI agents.

    But John Veasey survived that assassination attempt to become a government witness against the mob.

    Veasey was a street fighter who, by the time he was 29, had been arrested 60 times. During his brawling career, Veasey had been hit so many times in the head with metal pipes and baseball bats that doctors told him he had developed a protective layer of calcium deposits on his skull.

    That may have been why, Veasey told the students, he survived those three shots to the head.

    The mob, of course, retaliated by murdering John Veasey's older brother, Billy, days before John Veasey was supposed to take the witness stand.

    Veasey did testify, however, and was extraordinarily effective. The judge was amused by him; the jury loved him.

    To familiarize the students with the legend of John Veasey, DiGiacomo played the 60 Minutes segment from 2013 that recounted Veasey's life and times as a mob hit man and government witness.

    On the screen, they recounted how attorney Brian McMonagle, defending one of the mobsters accused of shooting Veasey, began his cross-examination of Veasey.

    McMonagle asked the government's star witness about the new suit and pair of glass that the government had bought for him.

    "What do you wear those glasses for," McMonagle asked.

    "After I got shot in the head" by your client, Veasey told McMonagle, "my right eye is a little bad."

    McMonagle was the first of eight veteran defense lawyers to cross-examine Veasey. They didn't lay a glove on him.

    "It was like he was standing on a corner telling a story," one juror told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "He was sincere. He was down to earth. He was believable."

    The jury convicted former mob boss John Stanfa and seven associates of racketeering, extortion, and a dozen gangland murders. The judge sentenced Stanfa to five consecutive life terms; his seven associates also got life sentences and long prison stretches.

    But John Veasey still feels sorry for his role in putting Stanfa away. He told the students he never wanted to be "a rat."

    "I like John [Stanfa]," Veasey said. "I like him to this day. I'm sorry I testified against him."

    Veasey blamed Stanfa's associates for talking the mob boss into signing off on the plot to kill Veasey.

    "They poisoned him against me," Veasey said.

    He didn't express as much regret, however, about the two men he murdered while working as Stanfa's hit man.

    It was in the middle of a war, Veasey told the students. Killing people was his job.

    "I don't lose sleep over it," he told the student who asked him about it. He still, however, gets upset about the murder of his older brother, Billy.

    But Veasey played down those old underworld rumors, publicized on the 60 Minutes episode, that he would return to South Philadelphia some day and kill the mobsters he blames for murdering his brother.

    Even though in South Philly, there are some protective orders out there against him, "I'm not going to
    kill anybody," Veasey told the students. "I'm done with that."

    The day before, however, when he was in Philadelphia, he did cruise around the old hood. But he wasn't to hunt down any old mobsters. He was ordering a cheesesteak at Pat's.

    One student asked Veasey what he thought about mob movies.

    Veasey had to explain that back in the days when he was a drug addict and criminal, he was too busy stealing TVs to watch them.

    But since he got out of jail after serving ten years for two murders, he has watched all the old mob movies.

    His favorite is Goodfellas. But he didn't like Black Mass, the movie they made about Whitey Bulger.

    "Johnny Depp sucked," Veasey said.

    Veasey explained how in prison he met a couple of hit men who used to work for Bulger's mob. Hollywood didn't tell the real story, Veasey said.

    Veasey told the students how he grew up fatherless in the projects of South Philadelphia. How his mother, who ran a South Philly bakery, was also a meth dealer. Mom had John-John making drug deliveries on his bike, along with poundcake and cannoli from the bakery.

    John-John was smoking marijuana and snorting angel dust at 11. At 12, he was shooting up. That same year, he was arrested the first time, for assault.

    By the time he was 15, John had already fathered two kids. Then he got arrested for pulling a knife on a teacher at Furness High School.

    "I was obviously not a good person," Veasey said. He told the students about how the ex-husband of his first wife died after John-John gave him a beating.

    Veasey told the students he didn't really have much of a conscience until 2005. That year, Veasey was fresh out of jail, in the witness protection program, and wandering around the Midwest, feeling homesick for South Philly.

    Then, he fell in love with an administrator at the hotel he was staying at. An illegal immigrant from Mexico named Norma.

    As a felon, Veasey had a rough time finding a job. Until he discovered that car dealerships don't do background checks when they hire salesmen.

    People in the Midwest thought Veasey talked funny and looked like a member of the Mafia. But Veasey knew how to talk to anybody, and he nobody intimidated him.

    On Midwest car lots, Veasey discovered he was a natural born car salesman. In his past life, Veasey had only paid attention to cars when he was stealing them.

    The former mobster became a family man who went to church every Sunday as a born-again Christian.

    John and Norma have been married for 12 years. They still live in the Midwest. And Norma is the reason why John said he's changed his violent ways.

    After he got arrested a couple of times for beating people up, Veasey told the students, he realized he had to stop it because, "I didn't want to hurt her."

    He turned 50 last month. His health has been a problem. He's had Hepatitis C since he was a kid. Then his liver went, because of all the years he'd abused drugs.

    He had a liver transplant, but his body rejected his new liver.

    He needed costly experimental drugs to survive. Black pills that cost $1,000 each. Veasey, who lost his job, needed 168 of those pills. And he didn't have any insurance that would pay for them.

    That's when an old friend stepped up with the cash.

    Paul Hayes was the FBI agent who had prepped John Veasey for trial back when they were hanging out at safe houses and Veasey was in the witness protection program.

    Hayes, who has stayed close to Veasey, raided his pension plan to come up with the money to save his old mobster buddy.

    If it wasn't for Paul Hayes, Veasey said, he wouldn't be here today.

    "I guess God's got a plan for me," Veasey said.

    He went back to being a car salesman. But this time he decided to go into business for himself, buying two car lots now worth more than $1 million.

    "I work every day," he said.

    And then it was time to sign autographs for the kids who bought the book Veasey co-wrote about his life. After they listened attentively for 90 minutes, the college kids lined up to meet Veasey and shake his hand.


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    By George Anastasia

    Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo changed the way the game was played in the Philadelphia underworld. An infamous mob hit and a subsequently botched revenge murder attempt set the tone for the Scarfo era.

    They were early strikes in what became a bloody legacy.

    Little Nicky played by his own rules.

    A final look at his legacy, published in JerseyMan Magazine, can be read here:


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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    A lawyer for State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, accused of accepting a $4,000 bribe, is charging the Philadelphia District Attorney's office with a conflict of interest.

    Patrick  A. Casey, a lawyer for Lowery Brown, filed a 21-page motion Tuesday in Dauphin County Court seeking to dismiss the case.

    Casey's argument: the Philadelphia D.A.'s office has a conflict of interest in trying  Lowery Brown on bribery charges because the acting D.A., First Assistant District Attorney Kathleen E.  Martin, was a former member of a law firm that represented Brown's main accuser in the sting operation, Tyron Ali.

    Martin was elevated to running the D.A.'s office after the current D.A., R. Seth Williams, was hit with a 23-count federal indictment alleging bribery, extortion, mail fraud and honest services fraud. The state Supreme Court has since suspended Williams' law license, and Martin has taken over as acting D.A. in the absence of Williams.

    But Martin's problem is that back in 2013, she was a member of a law firm, Levant, Martin & Tauber. The firm included her husband, Robert J. Levant, who, at the time was representing Tyron Ali, a confidential informant who in a sting operation, was accused of bribing Brown with $4,000.

    In his motion, Casey pointed out that Martin's "husband and longtime law partner Robert J. Levant Esq, previously privately represented the Commonwealth's star and sole material witness Tyron Ali in this very same matter."

    "The same Mr. Ali who in 2013 had more than 2,000 pending felony and misdemeanor charges dismissed by the Commonwealth based on his cooperation against Ms. Lowery Brown," Casey wrote. "The very same cooperation which was memorialized in a Cooperation Agreement negotiated by Ms. Martin's husband and then law partner -- Mr. Levant."

    "The prosecution's conflict of interest violates the ethical canons governing the conduct of lawyers and thoroughly deprives Ms. Lowery Brown of her constitutional right to an impartial prosecutor," Casey wrote.

    In a testimony to the current state of affairs at our local district attorney's office, Cameron Kline, the D.A.s spokesman, responded in an email that he is currently out of the office because he is serving on jury duty.

    So, in his absence, Kline replied in an automatic email response that all questions from the media should be referred to First Assistant District Attorney Martin.

    In an email, Martin wrote, "The Office is reviewing the Motion at this time and will respond if appropriate."

    "Ms. Lowery Brown has the 'right to have [her] case revised by an administrator of justice with his mind on the public purpose, not by an advocate whose judgment may be blurred by subjective reasons," Casey wrote.

    "This incurable conflict taints the prosecution, entitles Ms. Lowery Brown to dismal of the charges and requires the disqualification of the prosecutors," Casey wrote.

    In a footnote, Casey wrote that public records revealed that Martin's husband "contributed over $5,000 to the politics committees of R. Seth Williams."

    Tyron Ali was a smooth-talking, 40-year old native of Trinidad who wore Brooks Brothers suits and spoke three different languages. He became a confidential informant after he was indicted by the attorney general's office in 2009 on more than 2,000 counts that included fraud, theft and document tampering.

    The indictment that originated with a grand jury in Dauphin County accused Ali of diverting $430,000 in funds from a federal program that provided meals in Philadelphia for disadvantaged school kids.

    After he was charged with more than 2,000 felony and misdemeanor counts, Ali hired the law firm of Levant, Martin & Tauber to defend him.

    "Nearly all" of the $430,000 that was allegedly stolen, however, was subsequently accounted for, according to a subsequent memorandum of law filed by Levant.

    Ali's law firm also negotiated a cooperating agreement with the state attorney general's office, which was then represented by Frank Fina, Chief Deputy for Public Corruption.

    "As part of his cooperative agreement with the OAG, Mr. Ali became a confidential informant and operative for the OAG's office investigating public corruption," Casey wrote. "From 2010 to 2012, Mr. Ali was in regular contact with Mr. Mr. Fina and other attorneys and investigators for the OAG."

    In his new role as an confidential informant, Ali's undercover work was "unprecedented and nothing short of extraordinary," Levant wrote. A law enforcement source agreed, describing Ali as "the Laurence Olivier of confidential informants."


    "In what amounted to nearly full-time work with the OAG, Mr. Ali dispatched his responsibilities with a determination, professionalism and effectiveness that earned him not only the respect and gratitude of a staff of career prosecutors, but also a right to claim a consideration agreed to by the OAG -- a dismissal of all charges," Levant wrote in defense of Ali.

    Former Attorney General Kathleen Kane declined to prosecute the cases brought by the sting operation. Then, Seth Williams stepped in.

    "Later, in headline-grabbing and sanctimonious fashion, Mr. Williams challenged Attorney General Kane to transfer the investigation involving Lowery Brown to him," Casey wrote.

    Four defendants targeted in the sting operation have pleaded guilty. A fifth pleaded no contest. That left Lowery Brown as the only defendant still fighting the charges.

    As part of her defense, Casey, Lowery Brown's lawyer, has argued that Ali was a "younger, attractive male leading on an older single woman." Ali, Casey wrote, flirted with Brown, called her "darling," and gave her chocolates and kisses before he attempted to bribe her.

    In Lowery Brown's defense, Casey has continued to argue that the sting operation was racially motivated to target only black Democrats.

    In a March 28, 2016 hearing, a judge asked Ali if this was true, and Ali denied it. However, Ali's account was contradicted by the FBI, Casey wrote. n a sworn declaration, Special Agent Richard J. Haag included an email exchange between the agent and Ali.

    In the email exchange, Ali "indicated that he had several discussion[s] with at least two AG agents about specifically targeting Democrats in the state Legislature," the Haag declaration states.

    Ali "had, on at least 2 occasions, contacted Republican lobbyists and public officials to include" in the sting operation, Haag wrote. Ali "was reprimanded for contacting the Republicans and told he was not to take any initiative in contacting Republicans in the future," according to FBI Agent Haag.

    Ali "was encouraged to show initiative in contacting Democrats," Haag wrote. Ali "was not allowed to take cash or offer cash payments to Republicans . . . AG's office did not want him to get involved with Republicans."

    If the FBI agent is to believed, Casey wrote, Ali "made a false denial -- under oath."

    "Mr. Levant and Ms. Martin represented Mr. Ali during his cooperation, which makes them witnesses and imposes upon them the obligation of candor to the tribunal," Casey wrote. "For Ms. Martin, further ethical conflicts exist because of her prior representation of Mr. Ali, her current representation of the Commonwealth, and her current obligations as Ms. Lowery Brown's prosecutor."

    According to the cooperation agreement with the AG's office, the Commonwealth has the "sole discretion" to determine whether Ali "breached the cooperation agreement," Casey wrote. "The very cooperation agreement negotiated, executed and enforced by Mr. Levant while Ms. Martin was his law partner," Casey wrote.

    "If Mr. Ali did breach the agreement -- and Ms. Lowery Brown posits that he did -- it will left to the Philadelphia District Attorney's office to determine whether to prosecute Mr. Ali accordingly," Casey wrote. "This is a paradigmatic -- and disqualifying -- legal conflict."

    At the end of his motion to dismiss, Casey asked that all electronic communication between Ali and his lawyers, as well as Ali's communication with all current and former employees of the D.A.'s office be preserved.

    Casey asks the judge in the case to schedule an evidentiary hearing, and he also asks for a stay of trial.

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    Sing it Charlie!
    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    It was billed as the last pre-trial hearing in the case of Msgr. William J. Lynn, before the lawyers were scheduled to pick a jury next month.

    But today in court, Judge Gwendolyn Bright and the lawyers on both sides of the case spent as much time in the back room as they did in the courtroom.

    When everyone emerged from the back room, there were hints that the retrial of Msgr. Lynn, scheduled to begin on May 15th, may be postponed indefinitely.

    Instead of picking a jury on May 15th, Judge Bright said that she would hold a "status conference."

    What could have delayed the retrial? With the judge imposing a nonsensical gag order on the proceedings, it's hard to figure. One side, or both sides might be appealing the judge's pretrial rulings. If so, instead of a retrial happening next month, it may be delayed for about a year. Or, that retrial may never happen at all.

    Lynn, the former secretary for clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, was convicted at his original 2012 trial by a jury on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a former altar boy identified by a grand jury as "Billy Doe."

    But Lynn's conviction was overturned by the state Superior Court. The D.A., however, vowed to retry the case.

    Lynn was accused of not properly supervising former priest Edward V. Avery, who just got out of jail after serving five years for sexually abusing the former altar boy whose real name is Danny Gallagher. The monsignor became the first Catholic administrator in the country to go to jail for allowing a priest to sexually abuse a child. But Gallagher's tales of abuse have since been revealed to be fake news.

    What would be the subject of an appeal in the Lynn case? Today in court, the discussion on the record was about supplemental cases of sex abuse.

    At the original trial of Msgr. Lynn, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina allowed in as evidence 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse dating back to 1948, three years before the 66-year-old Lynn was born, to show a pattern of behavior in the archdiocese of covering up sex abuse.

    The prejudicial effect of all those supplemental cases was the reason why the state Superior Court overturned the Lynn conviction in 2016. The Superior Court said that Judge Sarmina's decision to allow in all those extra cases boiled down to putting Lynn on trial for the collectives sins of the church.

    So, on the retrial, the prosecution asked for a dozen supplemental cases to be admitted as evidence. But Judge Bright told the prosecutors she wasn't "in the business of piling on." So the D.A. trimmed their wish list of supplemental cases to nine.

    Judge Bright subsequently did some more trimming. Today, she informed the D.A.'s three assistant district attorneys in attendance that only three supplemental cases would be allowed in as evidence.

    The D.A. could take an appeal on that decision by the judge. If they do, then Lynn's lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, could go ahead and file a cross-appeal that he threatened to do previously, arguing that retrying Lynn amounts to double jeopardy.

    Especially since Joseph Walsh, the lead detective in the Lynn case, came forward in January to testify about alleged prosecutorial misconduct in the case.

    Walsh told Judge Bright that unbeknownst to the defense, he repeatedly questioned Danny Gallagher about factual discrepancies in his many different stories of abuse. And that Gallagher provided no answers, other to say that he was high on drugs. But Detective Walsh knew from other witnesses in the case, such as Gallagher's own father, and one of Gallagher's drug counselors, that Danny Gallagher wasn't high on drugs when he told his original fantastic tales of abuse, before he invented new tales that a grand jury accepted as gospel.

    Walsh also told Judge Bright that when he told Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen about all the discrepancies in the case, she replied, "You're killing my case."

    Judge Bright responded by saying that indeed this was prosecutorial misconduct in the case serious enough to warrant a new trial for the defendant. But since the state Superior Court had already granted Msgr. Lynn a new trial, she was denying Bergstrom's motion to dismiss the case on the grounds of double jeopardy.

    Maybe Bergstrom is rethinking that decision, especially if the D.A. decides to appeal the judge's ruling on supplemental sex abuse cases.

    Today in court, Judge Bright told Bergstrom that another issue that he raised, presumably in the back room, would be taken care of at the May 15th status hearing.

    Since neither side is allowed by the judge to talk to reporters, we're left to guess at what issue Bergstrom might have raised.

    Bergstrom gave us a clue earlier this month when he went on a rampage after The Philadelphia Inquirer referred to his client in a photo caption as having been accused of sexual misconduct.

    This wasn't true, and the newspaper subsequently printed a correction and issued an apology. But Bergstrom has threatened in emails to the newspaper to have one of its reporters barred from covering the retrial of Msgr. Lynn.

    But now all of that may be moot.

    If there is an appeal, and the retrial is delayed for another year, you have to wonder at this point whether it will ever happen.

    Our crusading district attorney, Seth Williams, has legal problems of his own. Next month, he's scheduled to be tried on 23 federal felony counts of extortion, bribery, mail fraud and honest services fraud.

    If Williams gets convicted and is on his way to jail, maybe down at the D.A.'s office, the passion for retrying the Lynn case disappears.

    The defendant, after all, has already served 33 out of 36 months of his mandatory minimum sentence. Also the D.A.'s star witness, Danny Gallagher, has little incentive to leave his home in sunny Florida and come back to Philadelphia to testify against Lynn again, now that Gallagher has collected $5 million in a civil settlement from the archdiocese.

    If Seth Williams is on his way to jail and Danny Gallagher is on an extended holiday, made possible by the generosity of Archbishop Charles "Checkbook Charlie" Chaput, maybe the retrial of Msgr. Lynn never happens.

    But don't bother to ask Judge Bright about it, or any of the lawyers in the case. Because, thanks to a gag order from the judge, nobody can talk.

    Instead, they're doing the public's business in the back room. And leaving the rest of us to guess what's going on. In a case that's been a national and international news story for the past six years.

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    Richard A. Sprague and Lynne Abraham have gone to court seeking to have District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams, removed from office.

    The judge in the case is Abbe F. Fletman, but she has a problem -- a conflict of interest.

    In 2009, Fletman was a defense lawyer who represented Seth Williams in Philadelphia County Election Court. Eight years ago, Dan McCaffery, a candidate in the Democratic primary for D.A., went to Election Court seeking to get Seth Williams thrown off the ballot because he had not made a full disclosure of income in his financial disclosure forms.

    Now, eight years later, Fletman's unsuccessful defense of Williams poses a conflict of interest since she became a judge. And nobody will be surprised if lawyers for Sprague and Abraham ask the judge to recuse herself.


    Candidate McCaffery was successful with his Election Court challenge. Eight years ago, Judge Allan L. Tereshko ruled against Williams, kicking him off the ballot two months before the May 2009 Democratic primary election.

    It was a temporary victory, however. Williams appealed the decision. A month later, a panel of three Commonwealth Court judges voted to reinstate Williams on the Democratic primary ballot. McCaffery declined to appeal the case. And Williams went on to be elected the first of two four-year terms as the city’s first African-American District Attorney.

    But then Williams was hit with a 23-count federal indictment alleging extortion, bribery, wire fraud and honest services fraud. Williams has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and is scheduled to go to trial next month. Meanwhile, the D.A. has refused to step down from office, although he has agreed to temporarily suspend his license to practice law.

    The lawsuit filed by Sprague and Abraham on April 3rd in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court charges that Pennsylvania law prevents Williams from serving as D.A. without a valid law license. The lawsuit claims that Williams "will undoubtedly use" his $175,000 salary as D.A. "to fund his criminal defense."

    In court, Richard Burke, a lawyer for Williams, filed a memorandum of law saying that plaintiff Abraham, a former D.A., had failed to prove that any private interest was affected by the current D.A.'s "possession of a suspended law license."

    Burke also argued that plaintiff Sprague, a former First Assistant District Attorney, had failed to offer any explanation as to how "the absence of an active law license by the elected district attorney will impact any of the ordinary and routine decisions of the office."

    A district attorney, Burke wrote, can only be removed form office upon conviction of a crime, or by a governor for reasonable cause after impeachment by two-thirds of the state senate.

    Absent those two conditions, D.A. Williams deserves to remain in office, his lawyer argued.

    In Election Court eight years ago, George Bochetto was the lawyer who represented McCaffery, an unsuccessful candidate for D.A. It was Williams' sloppy bookkeeping that got him in trouble. Along with an over-dependance on his mother's credit cards.


    In his closing argument, Bochetto said of Williams, “He shows up with having received . . . more than $10,000 worth of checks from his campaign.” And to explain what he did with the undisclosed income from his PAC, Bochetto said of Williams, “He shows up with $700 worth of receipts.”


    They included a receipt for an Apple martini at the Devon Horse Show and a parking stub for $1.25.



    It was an “insult to the voters and the [election] process,” Bochetto argued to the judge.  Those receipts, which “could have been for anything for anybody, somehow justifies over $10,00 worth of cash payments to him out of his campaign.”


    In Election Court, defense lawyer Fletman tried to argue that Williams didn’t break any campaign laws if he acted in good faith.


    But the judge wasn't buying it.

    “I will tell you categorically  that is not the law,” Judge Tereshko responded. “That is not the law.”


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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond has given the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office until noon Monday to cooperate with a federal subpoena of two email accounts belonging to D.A. Rufus Seth Williams.

    Back on Jan. 5th, the federal government filed a search warrant to recover the contents of two email accounts used by D.A. Williams: phlda@yahoo.com and seth.williams@phila.gov.

    When they filed the subpoena, the feds stated that they realized the D.A.'s two email accounts might contain "privileged or confidential materials" involving current grand jury investigations being conducted by the D.A.'s office. To remedy that, the feds proposed assigning a separate prosecutor to go through the two email accounts. Using search terms provided by the D.A.'s office, the separate prosecutor was supposed to filter out any confidential information before turning the contents of the email accounts over to the team of assistant U.S. Attorneys assigned to prosecute Seth Williams.

    The city of Philadelphia signed off on the request; so did defense lawyers for Seth Williams. But a lawyer for Kathleen Martin, the First Assistant District Attorney who is running the office in Williams' absence, objected, saying that the proposed filter operation might violate state law regarding grand jury secrecy, and also might require the approval of state judges.

    But on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Diamond rejected Martin's argument as a "baseless position." And he ordered the D.A.'s office to provide the feds with "search terms to identify grand jury materials no later than Monday, May 1, 2017, at 12:000 noon," according to the judge's order posted Friday on the docket in the case of the United States of America v. Rufus Seth Williams.

    Williams has been accused by the feds in a 23-count indictment of bribery, extortion, mail fraud and honest services fraud. He has agreed to a voluntary suspension of his law license. But the D.A. has rejected pleas from the governor, the mayor and the bar association to step down before he goes to trial. Williams has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

    In an April 27th email to the judge, Catherine M. Recker, a lawyer for First Assistant District Attorney Martin, said that her client "has no desire to delay the filter review process." For almost a year, Recker wrote, Martin has been cooperating with the federal investigation of her boss, "providing the government with all requested documents and information."

    Martin, however, "wants to ensure that the [filtering] process adequately protects the secrecy of any grand jury proceeding." Recker told the judge that Pennsylvania state law required that the state's supervising grand jury judges "must be consulted" before any such search. And that any search terms provided by the D.A.'s office might themselves breach grand jury secrecy rules.

    But Judge Diamond didn't seem to be all that worried about any of that.

    When he ruled against the D.A.'s office, Judge Diamond stated that the U.S. Attorney's Office "has further suggested that requiring an unspecified number of state judges to review an unspecified number of documents would likely delay trial in this matter, currently set to begin on May 31st."

    In his order, the judge noted that when he denied the U.S. Attorney's motion to designate the case against Williams as complex litigation, "I emphasized the pressing public need for a speedy trial in this matter," the judge wrote. "The defendant -- who presumably knows what is in his own emails -- has not suggested that they contain confidential grand jury materials."

    The judge said that even if the search terms provided by the D.A.'s office "slip through" the filtering process to be conducted by the separate prosecutor, "the few that slip through would be made available only to the Government's case team, not to the public," the judge wrote. "That incidental, very limited disclosure would not implicate the reasons for state grand jury secrecy."

    In his order, the judge wrote that if the D.A.'s office refuses to comply with his order by noon Monday, the separate prosecutor will proceed with the filtering process of the D.A.'s two email accounts using search terms supplied by the city and the defendant.

    In addition to any grand jury investigations, the feds wrote the judge on April 26th, the D.A.'s two email accounts may contain confidential communication between Williams and several lawyers.

    "Since at least May 2015, Williams has sought and/or obtained legal advice from attorneys Scott DiClaudio, Matthew Haverstick, Robert Levant, John Pease and Samuel C. Stretton regarding the FBI's and IRS-CI's investigation of Williams and the amendment of Williams's financial disclosure statements," wrote Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert A. Zauzmer, Vineet Gauri, and Eric W. Moran.

    "Williams also may have sought and/or obtained legal advice from attorneys regarding a possible civil suit by [former Assistant District Attorney] Laurie Malone regarding her demotion by Williams at the DAO," the feds wrote.

    In his order, the judge made it clear that it's full speed ahead with the federal corruption trial of Rufus Seth Williams, scheduled to begin May 31st. The urgency for the trial, the judge has previously said, is because Williams has refused to step down as D.A.

    The D.A.'s defense lawyers have certainly gotten the message.

     On Friday, Thomas F. Burke, the lead defense lawyer for Williams, wrote the judge that the defense is prepared to go to trial on May 31st. Even though to date, Burke wrote, the feds have turned over 147,999 documents that the defense lawyers are still plowing through.

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