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

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    The judge wouldn't even let him out of jail to see Mom

    Today in court, Judge Paul S. Diamond ripped former Philadelphia D.A. Rufus Seth Williams a new one before packing him off to jail for five years.

    "You sold yourself to the parasites you surrounded yourself with," the judge blasted Williams during sentencing. The judge talked about "your profound dishonesty," and told the city's former top law enforcement officer, "I simply don't find you credible."

    This was while the judge was declaring Williams a flight risk, and saying he couldn't take a chance of letting Williams out of jail. So the former D.A. could stay at his ex-wife's house, at the request of his lawyers, where he supposedly was going to get to see his ailing 85-year-old Mom one last time.

    "The defendant stole from his mother," the judge asked incredulously, "and now he wants to see her?" The judge thought that demand was "so outrageous," he said from the bench, that he didn't think there were sufficient words in the English language to express how outrageous. The judge even went so far as to rip Williams' prepared statement, as read in court by his lawyer, by saying it "sounded like a campaign speech." Ouch.

    No, our sad sack of a D.A., who got through life by conning the gullible, finally ran into somebody who wasn't buying it -- an angry Judge Diamond. Williams is lucky the plea bargain he agreed to didn't give the judge a chance to give Williams more time. Because he surely would have.

    Williams, wearing a tan short-sleeve shirt, sweatpants and sneakers, showed up in court some 25 pounds lighter after a nearly four-month stay in solitary confinement. Williams, who used to go in for deep-tissue massages and deep-pore facials at the Union League and Sporting Club, as paid for by his political action committee, has been roughing it of late at the Special Housing Unit at Sixth and Market.

    At the "SHU," they only let him out of his 8x10 cell one hour a day, and he only gets to make one phone call a month.

    At the defense table, Williams, ever the drama queen, was dabbing his eyes to wipe away the tears while his lawyer, Tom Burke, read a statement from Williams' ex-wife Sonita.

    According to Williams' ex, the two remain close "despite our divorce."

    "Seth is a good man," his ex-wife said, even though he was a "flawed man who made flawed decisions."

    "Seth has lost everything," his ex-wife pleaded with the judge, as Williams, right on cue, was dabbing  his eyes, and reaching for the tissues. But the judge wasn't going along with Sonita Williams' plea to let her ex out of jail so he could spend time with his daughters and his Mom, before getting shipped off to prison.

    Next, Burke, Williams' lawyer, talked about the "long hours, low pay and heavy workload" Williams endured as an assistant district attorney.

    In pleading for mercy, Burke talked about the "great strides that he [Williams] made to improve the [D.A.'s] office," his "nearly 20 years of military service" in the U.S. Army and National Guard, and his "long service to the Catholic Church."

    But Burke lost my sympathy when he talked about Williams'"courage in taking on the Catholic Church" in his crusade against sex abuse.

    If there were any justice in our brazenly corrupt city, a special prosecutor would be investigating how Williams and a few of his prosecutors knowingly put a fraudulent sex abuse victim, Billy Doe AKA Danny Gallagher, on the witness stand to stage a witch hunt against the church, a witch hunt that put four men in jail for a string of phony rapes dreamed up by a junkie without a conscience.

    The special prosecutor would also be looking into how the D.A.'s office under Rufus Seth Williams hooked Gallagher up with a civil lawyer, so he could sue the Catholic Church, and steal $5 million in a civil settlement, for imaginary pain and suffering.

    And the special prosecutor would also be looking into whether anybody from the D.A.'s office got a kickback from that stolen $5 million.

    Sorry, Mr. Burke, it wasn't courage that prompted Rufus Seth Williams to use a phony witness to stage a witch hunt, it was a lust for headlines. And the arrogance of somebody who says the law means whatever I say it means.

    In pleading for mercy, Burke mentioned that Williams would be "virtually penniless" and without his law license, which was revoked last week, when he gets out jail.

    Burke then read a prepared statement from the defendant.

    In his statement, which he didn't have the guts to read himself, Williams talked about his "mistakes of character and judgment."

    Completely lacking both, Williams jumped to his distinction as the city's first African-American D.A., and then he mentioned, "I squandered that trust placed in me."

    "I have failed them," he said about his supporters. And he talked about "the shame I brought to the office I loved," and how much he had hurt his ex-wife, and his girlfriend.

    Next up was Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer, who said that Williams didn't deserve any credit, at least at sentencing, for the good things he did while in office. Instead, Zauzmer asked the judge to remember the "devastating effect" Williams' corruption had on the men and women left at the D.A.'s office.

    "He is a criminal," Zauzmer said. "And he was a criminal for a long period of time."

    The prosecutor talked about how Williams used to take SUVs set aside for drug investigations and use them as his own personal vehicles, for going on vacations, sporting around town, etc.

    As D.A. Williams earned between $170,000 and $200,000 a year, Zauzmer said, and yet, "It wasn't good enough for Mr. Williams. He just wants more."

    More, both the prosecutor and judge noted, involved stealing $23,000 intended for his mother's care in a Catholic nursing home.

    After the oratory was over, the judge sentenced Williams to 60 months in jail, followed by three years of supervised release, also known as probation. Williams also has to pay $58,422 in restitution.

    The judge did not impose a fine on Williams, because he noted the deadbeat defendant, who also couldn't pay his lawyers, was dead broke.

    And then it was time to slap the cuffs back on Williams, and lead him off to solitary confinement, while he awaits a permanent prison assignment for the next five years of his life.

    Outside the courthouse, defense lawyer Burke said he was disappointed, but not surprised, by the judge's decision to not allow Williams to see his mother.

    "Yeah, we're a little disappointed at that," Burke said, adding that he had implored the judge to allow the visit for Mom's sake, and not for sonny boy's.

    But Zauzmer said the judge made the right decision, because he had determined that Williams wasn't credible, and that he also posed a flight risk.

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    He was at various stages of his long life, a Daily News sports writer, a restauranteur, a state representative, a City Councilman, a felon, a newspaper editor, a raconteur, always a true character, and above all else, an old-school politician.

    Jimmy Tayoun died yesterday at 87, after collapsing in front of his home, apparently after suffering a heart attack.

    I first met Tayoun back in 1993, as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, when I visited Tayoun  while he was a guest at the Federal Correctional Institute, Schuylkill in Minersville, PA. It's a sleepy minimum security prison located on a foggy mountaintop where the deer run free, about a 2 1/2 hour drive northwest of the city. At the time, Tayoun was doing 40 months after he got nailed by the feds for paying and taking bribes.

    There was a basic honesty about Tayoun that shown through his prison whites, and his circumstances.

    "OK, I'm not going to say I'm innocent," he told me. "I'm obviously guilty. I pleaded guilty and I'm here." Tayoun explained to me how the prosecutors convinced him to plead guilty. They did it by showing him the indictment they threatened to file against his wife.

    Tayoun demonstrated how he stuck out his two arms, as if voluntarily agreeing to be handcuffed. "You got me," is what he told the feds.

    I remember being impressed by how Tayoun handled prison. He didn't sulk or mope. Instead, as a former proprietor of The Middle East restaurant in Old City, Tayoun put his knowledge to work, taking over the prison kitchen while they paid him 40 cents an hour.

    "I'm top dog," he explained. He also found the time to write two books, while pecking away at an old IBM electric typewriter.

    The first of his jailhouse classics -- "Going to Prison?" -- was a slim pinstriped volume that Tayoun billed as a "practical guide for the first offender." It was filled with down-to-earth advice about make sure you pack an extra toothbrush, get your dental work done before you go to jail, and don't forget to bring along an extra pair of slippers.

    He also wrote a political novel about a fictional Philadelphia City Councilman, Joe Jowdy, a flamboyant workaholic who was being chased by the feds. Only in Jimmy's version, the councilman beat the rap.

    The editors at the Inquirer were so amused by the idea of Tayoun the novelist that they agreed to run a chapter of his unpublished novel in the Inquirer Sunday magazine. Back when they had a Sunday magazine. This was after Tayoun got through doing his time.

    When I called Jimmy to give him the good news, I added that the editors were willing to pay him more than $1,000 bucks for his literary work.

    Without missing a beat, Tayoun shot back, "Ten percent of it is yours."

    I said, Jimmy, isn't this the kind of behavior that got you in trouble?

    He just laughed.

    When I stopped by to see Tayoun at his house on South Broad Street, I was amazed at how many times his phone rang, and how many of his former constituents would call asking for his help or advice. He had been out of office a long time, but he serviced every one of those calls like he was still running for reelection.

    One night, after I got fired by the Inky, Tayoun took me out for dinner in South Philly, and then we wound up at the Triangle Tavern, where we watched some truly bad amateur acts, and met a string of local characters who stood in line to talk to Jimmy.

    By the end of the night, I was exhausted and ready to pack it in. Tayoun, however, only seemed to draw more energy from every bad act, and every character that stopped by his table.

    In prison, Tayoun had outlined to me his plans to start a weekly newspaper that would cater to politicians. The people who paid for ads in his newspaper would get favorable press, he explained; the ones that didn't pay would get bad press, or even worse, ignored.

    When I got out, I marveled how Jimmy got his "Public Record" up and running. And then I watched him screw over the Inquirer by getting his pals in City Hall to publish all their public notices in the Public Record, rather than our city's daily newspaper or record.

    It was classic Jimmy in action. He was always twisting arms and cutting deals, but he was so unpredictable, he could flip on you in a second.

    True to his ethnic roots, he would have made a fine tribal leader in Lebanon, the homeland of his ancestors. "You don't buy Tayoun," his fellow politicians used to gripe about Jimmy, "you rent him."

    But reporters loved him because he was blunt and colorful.

    How could you not love a guy who used to bill himself as the City Council's "camel jockey." A guy who used to print up two shades of campaign posters; a lighter-skinned version of himself for Center City, and a tanned version for African-American wards.

    When I was writing a book about Vince Fumo, a book that will be published next month, Tayoun gave me a fun interview filled with his usual frank assessments of Vince, and his predecessor in office, Buddy Cianfrani.

    When I asked Jimmy if he wanted me to call him back, and read him all his quotes, like many other people in the book insisted on doing, Tayoun just sneered, as if such a courtesy wasn't necessary for somebody who always shot from the hip.

    I'll take an old-school back-slapping pol like Tayoun any day over the modern pale version, an empty suit like Michael Nutter. Or our current joyless left-wing mayor, who spends his nights drinking alone, and his days complaining that he can't get anything done.

    Rest in peace, Jimmy.

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    By Mark Pendgerast
    For BigTrial.net

    Like most people, I assumed that Jerry Sandusky must be guilty before I began to research the case in depth.  After all, there was that eyewitness of shower abuse, and all those accusers.  But I soon came to realize that memory malleability and suggestibility were central to how the allegations against Jerry Sandusky arose, and after in-depth research, I concluded that Sandusky is probably innocent.

     

    What really alerted me initially was reading the trial transcript for June 13, 2012, where I found Dustin Stuble (“Victim 7”) explaining why his testimony had changed from what he said under oath at the grand jury the previous year. “Through counseling and through talking about different events, through talking about things in my past, different things triggered different memories and [I] have had more things come back, and it’s changed a lot about what I can remember today and what I could remember before, because I had everything negative blocked out.”

    Aha! I thought.  It is obvious that he was in repressed memory therapy.  I was right, as Struble himself told me later, and it turned out that repressed memories lay at the core of the case against Sandusky, while other memory issues lay at the heart of the infamous shower scene that got Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier fired.

     I write about how human memory works in comprehensive fashion in my new 444-page publication, Memory Warp: How the Myth of Repressed Memory Arose and Refuses to Die., as well as in the 399-page book, The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment.  They are “sister” publications that help to inform one another, so I urge people to read both of these books.  But I realize that a summary would be helpful before readers delve into the books.

    Memory is reconstructive.  Our brains do not keep individual memories in one place, ready to be called forth by pulling out the proper mental file or hitting the right mental computer key.  Instead, our memories are stored all over our brains, and they must be reconstructed.  They are subject to contamination, confusion, change, and outright fabrication.  With the proper influence, people can come to envision and believe in emotionally stressful events that never occurred. 


    Usually, our memories serve us relatively well, however.  We tend to remember most clearly the bestand worst events.  We recall the nice things so that we can seek them out again, and we remember the upsetting events so that we can avoid them in the future.  Some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder, which involves being unable to forget severe trauma, but continuing to recall it all too well.  So it is not a matter of “repressing” or “dissociating.”


    The most dramatic illustration of how destructive false memories can be created occurred during the heyday of the repressed memory epidemic of the late 1980s and 1990s, when many psychotherapists blatantly led their clients to believe that they had suffered years of childhood sexual abuse but had repressed the memories.  In many cases, people came to envision being in mythical satanic ritual abuse cults, where they killed and consumed babies and other grotesque fantasies.


    Most people think that the repressed memory epidemic is over, but it is not.  A majority of Americans and psychotherapists still believe in the myth of repressed memories (or dissociated memories, as they are often called), and, according to a recent survey of a large cross-section of Americans, about 8 percent of those going to therapy in this decade came to believe that they had suffered child abuse that they had completely forgotten, then recalled in the course of therapy.


    Thus, it is not surprising that the theory of repressed memory – the idea that people often totally forget abuse though some mental defense mechanism and then remember it later – lies behind some of the Sandusky accusations.  I was able to directly interview only one such alleged victim, Dustin Struble, who acknowledged his repressed memories, but there is evidence for memory distortion and/or repressed memories in many others as well.  I will go through them here relatively briefly.


    Let me emphasize, however, that there were other factors contributing to one of the most amazing and disturbing miscarriages of justice of the 21stcentury.  These factors include a media blitz (and blackout of any dissent or inconvenient facts), police trawling and bias, prosecutorial misconduct, a flawed judicial process, illegal leaks, and greed. 


    I will summarize each of the ten alleged trial victims, some of whom clearly had recovered “repressed memories” of abuse.  I’ll take them in the order in which they were numbered, plus Matt Sandusky, who did not testify, but whose story is central to the case.


    Aaron Fisher, Victim 1:  As a 15-year-old, Aaron Fisher initially said that Jerry Sandusky had hugged him to crack his back, with their clothes on.  Over the next three years, with the urging of psychotherapist Mike Gillum, Fisher eventually came to “remember” multiple instances of oral sex.  Gillum apparently believed that memories too painful to recall lie buried in the unconscious, causing mental illness of all kinds—among them, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and alcoholism. “They (abuse victims) just want to numb themselves and push away the unpleasant memories,” Gillum wrote in the book, Silent No More.  He sought to “peel back the layers of the onion” of the brain to get to abuse memories. Nor did Aaron Fisher have to tell him anything.  Gillum would guess what happened and Fisher only had to nod his head or say Yes.  “I was very blunt with him when I asked questions but gave him the ability to answer with a yes or a no, that relieved him of a lot of burden,” Gillum wrote.  In the same book, Aaron Fisher recalled:  “Mike just kept saying that Jerry was the exact profile of a predator. When it finally sank in, I felt angry.”


    Fisher explained that “I was good at pushing it (memories of abuse) all away . . . Once the weekends [with Jerry] were over, I managed to lock it all deep inside my mind somehow. That was how I dealt with it until next time. Mike has explained a lot to me since this all happened. He said that what I was doing is called compartmentalizing. . . . I was in such denial about everything.”  Without the three years of therapy with Mike Gillum, it is unlikely that Aaron Fisher would ever have accused Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse, and the case would never have gone forward.


    Allan Myers (“Victim 2”) was the teenager in the shower in February 2001, when Mike McQueary heard slapping sounds that he interpreted as sexual.  In fact, they were the sounds of Myers and Sandusky slap boxing or snapping towels at one another.  McQueary did not see Sandusky and the boy together in the shower – he only caught a glimpse of the boy in a mirror.  He changed his memory nearly ten years later when the police told him that Sandusky was a serial molester. McQueary, like many people, did not require therapy to distort his memory.  Influenced by current attitudes, he came to envision that he had witnessed something he had not actually seen.  This is one of the well-known hazards of eyewitness testimony, as experimental psychologist Elizabeth Loftus and others have demonstrated. 


    We do not know whether Allan Myers was ever in therapy to help retrieve abuse memories.  He received several million dollars as one of the alleged Sandusky victims, but he did not testify at the trial, and he has never actually accused Sandusky of molesting him in any kind of detail.  Initially, he provided a very strong defense of Sandusky, saying that he had never abused him, before becoming a client of civil attorney Andrew Shubin, who sent most of his Sandusky clients to therapy, quite likely to help retrieve repressed abuse memories. As reporter Sara Ganim wrote in November 2011, Shubin “teamed up with psychologists, social workers and a national child sex abuse organization so that these people [alleged victims] can seek mental help along with possible legal recourse.”


    Jason Simcisko (“Victim 3”) told the police that nothing inappropriate had happened with Jerry Sandusky, when he was first interviewed.  When the policemen asked if Sandusky had helped him rinse off in the shower, perhaps lifting him up to the showerhead, Simcisko replied, according to the police report: “There might have been something like that. I don’t exactly remember, but it sounds familiar.”  This was the beginning of the process of manipulating his memory.  At the end of the interview, the police report noted that Simcisko “agreed to call if he recalled anything further.” 


     By the time of the trial. Simcisko had remembered Sandusky touching his penis numerous times.  He explained why he hadn’t revealed this earlier:  “Everything that’s coming out now is because I thought about it more. I tried to block this out of my brain for years.”  We don’t know for sure whether Simcisko was in psychotherapy or not, but Andrew Shubin was his lawyer.

    Brett Houtz (“Victim 4”) did not make any abuse allegations to either his lawyer or the police during initial contact, but he did make allegations during a long subsequent interview with police, during which his lawyer was present.  The police inadvertently left the tape recorder on, revealing their grossly leading interview methods, which can sway memory as effectively as psychotherapy.  Police investigator Joseph Leiter said, “I know there’s been a rape committed somewhere along the line,” and noted that “it just took repetition and repetition” to get Aaron Fisher to say anything.  He said that the police would routinely tell prospective victims:  “Listen, this is what we found so far. You fit the pattern of all the other ones. This is the way he operates and the other kids we dealt with have told us that this has happened after this happened. Did that happen to you?”  This is a classic illustration of “confirmation bias,” in which the police had already predetermined in their own minds what that truth was. And in this case, Leiter was intent on getting Houtz to say that Sandusky had forced him into oral sex.  Eventually, Houtz did just that.


    At the end of the interview, the police asked Houtz to try to remember more.  “What usually happens is when you start to think about things…it may be 3 o’clock in the morning, tonight, and you go, Oh, my gosh, I remember this or I remember that or whatever.” In that case, Houtz should call them. “Sometimes things come up and you remember more things in detail.”


    By the time Houtz testified in devastating fashion at the trial, he was in therapy with Mike Gillum.  During the trial, Houtz said, “I have spent, you know, so many years burying this in the back of my mind forever.”  It is not clear if he was talking about repressed memories, but it certainly sounds like it.  On the other hand, Houtz had a long-standing reputation as a manipulative liar, and his father had initially contacted his lawyer with an obvious eye on money.


    Michal Kajak (“Victim 5”) made allegations during his first contact with the police. We have no way of knowing whether Michal Kajak was in repressed memory therapy. By the time he spoke to the police on June 7, 2011, however, the abuse allegations against Sandusky had been publicized by reporter Sara Ganim, who had also contacted Zachary Konstas’s mother, who had, in turn, suggested that the police interview Kajak as a potential victim.  We also know that Zach Konstas’s sister had already talked to Kajak about the allegations.


    At any rate, Kajak said, according to a police report, that “he did not want to remember this stuff.”  Kajak finally said that Sandusky had taken his hand and placed it on Sandusky’s erection for a few seconds during this single shower they took together. His story then was amplified somewhat over time, including a three-year shift in when the abuse allegedly occurred.


    It is possible that Kajak, in envisioning the single time he had showered with Sandusky, convinced himself that this had happened. It is also possible that he spoke with his friend Dustin Struble, who was “remembering” his own abuse and might have helped him with his own shower story. Kajak’s allegations do not fit the modus operandi that the police otherwise thought Sandusky used. He was supposed to have “groomed” boys carefully before attempting more overt sexual abuse. The idea that Sandusky would have acted this way during the very first shower must have seemed odd, even to the police.


    Zachary Konstas (“Victim 6”) never actually claimed that Sandusky abused him, although under the influence of the investigation and trial, he came to believe that Sandusky had “groomed” him for abuse in a 1998 shower.  The day after the shower, Konstas emphatically denied that any abuse had taken place. Over the subsequent years, Konstas expressed his admiration and gratitude to Jerry Sandusky for his role in his life through notes and greeting cards. In 2009, as a twenty-three-year-old, Konstas wrote: “Hey Jerry just want 2 wish u a Happy Fathers Day! Greater things are yet 2 come!” Later that year he wrote: “Happy Thanksgiving bro! I’m glad God has placed U in my life. Ur an awesome friend! Love ya!”


    But Zachary Konstas’s perceptions were altered drastically between the fall of 2010 and June 2012. As Allan Myers did, Konstas got a lawyer. Although he never accused Sandusky of sexually abusing him, but he made it sound as though the coach had wanted to, that Sandusky had been “grooming” him for abuse. He also implied that perhaps Sandusky had abused him, but that he, Konstas, had forgotten it. Konstas may have come to believe that he had “repressed” the memories. He had asked his friend, Dustin Struble (“Victim 7”) “if [he] remembered anything more, if counseling was helping,” and Konstas himself was clearly undergoing psychotherapy. At Sandusky’s sentencing hearing, he said, “I have been left with deep, painful wounds that you caused and had been buried in the garden of my heart for many years.”


    Konstas’s attorney, Howard Janet, explained in an interview how Konstas and the other alleged victims could “create a bit of a Chinese wall in their minds. They bury these events that were so painful to them deep in their subconscious.”


    Zachary Konstas may not have recovered specific memories of abuse, but his reinterpretation of his past, along with implications that he may have repressed the memories, were enough for the jury to find Sandusky guilty of planning to abuse him.


    Dustin Struble (“Victim 7”)admitted to me that he was in repressed memory, and his trial testimony makes that obvious as well.  He had no abuse memories until the police contacted him, and he considered Sandusky a friend and mentor until then.  State Trooper Joseph Leiter interviewed Struble for the first time on February 3, 2011.  By that time Struble had been thinking about the way Sandusky used to put his hand on his knee while driving, and now he thought he remembered Sandusky moving his hand slowly up towards his crotch sometimes. And other times, he thought Sandusky may have been trying to slide his hand down his back under his underwear waistband. Yes, he had taken showers with Sandusky, but nothing sexual had taken place there. He’d given him bear hugs at times, but not in the shower. They had wrestled around, but Sandusky had never touched him inappropriately.


    At the end of the interview, Leiter was excited that Struble was open to the idea that Sandusky might have abused him, but that wasn’t enough. In ending the interview he “advised Struble that as he recalls events to please contact me and we can set up another interview. Also, if he begins having difficulties with his memories to contact me so that assistance can be found.”  Struble entered psychotherapy less than three weeks later.


    By the time of the trial, Struble had changed his story, asserting that Sandusky gave him bear hugs, washed his hair in the shower, and then dried him off.  He said that Sandusky had put his hand down his pants and touched his penis in the car, that Sandusky had grabbed him in the shower and pushed the front of his body up against the back of Dustin’s body.  On the stand, he explained:  “That doorway that I had closed has since been re-opening more. More things have been coming back…. Through counseling and different things, I can remember a lot more detail that I had pushed aside than I did at that point.”  Struble went on to explain more about how his repressed memories had returned in therapy.  He further explained:  “The more negative things, I had sort of pushed into the back of my mind, sort of like closing a door, closing—putting stuff in the attic and closing the door to it. That’s what I feel like I did.”


    In 2014, I interviewed Struble in his home in State College, PA.  In a follow-up email, he wrote:  “Actually both of my therapists have suggested that I have repressed memories, and that’s why we have been working on looking back on my life for triggers. My therapist has suggested that I may still have more repressed memories that have yet to be revealed, and this could be a big cause of the depression that I still carry today. We are still currently working on that.”


     Phantom Victim (“Victim 8”) is the product of double hearsay testimony that should never have been allowed at the trial.  A janitor named Ron Petrosky said that another janitor, Jim Calhoun, had told him in the fall of 2000 that he saw Sandusky giving oral sex to a young boy in a Penn State locker room shower.  By the time of the June 2012 trial, Calhoun had Alzheimer’s and could not testify, but the judge allowed Petrosky to do so.  Sandusky was found guilty of molesting this unidentified boy.

    But in a taped interview on May 15, 2011, Jim Calhoun had told the police that Sandusky was notthe man he saw giving oral sex to a young man in the shower.  The defense apparently had not listened to the tape and never entered it into evidence in the trial.


    Sabastian Paden (“Victim 9”) came forward after the explosive Grand Jury Presentment became public on November 4, 2011, and the Office of the Attorney General publicized a hotline for prospective Sandusky victims.  At that point, it was clear to civil lawyers and alleged victims that there was a possible financial windfall to be had.


    Paden’s changed attitude towards Sandusky occurred incredibly quickly, after his mother called his school to ask them to contact the police.  When the police appeared at his door, Paden denied having been abused.  Sometime in October 2011, the high school senior was seated in Beaver Stadium beside Sandusky, enjoying a Penn State football game with a friend.  Less than a month later, however, Paden rocked the grand jury with accounts of his former life as a virtual captive in the Sandusky basement, where he claimed to have screamed for help, to no avail, even though the basement was not soundproofed and there was no way to lock him down there. Paden said that he was forced to perform oral sex on numerous occasions, and that Sandusky attempted anal intercourse over sixteen times, with actual penetration at times.


    It is unlikely that repressed memory therapy was involved in encouraging Sabastian Paden’s memories, at least at the outset, since his grotesque allegations arose within just a few days of his mother’s initial phone call. It is instead likely that he was either telling the truth or that he was consciously lying, at the urging of his mother and in search of remuneration and sympathetic attention.


    Ryan Rittmeyer (“Victim 10”) also responded to the Sandusky hotline after the case exploded in the media.  He had been incarcerated twice—for burglary in 2004, at age seventeen, and in September 2007, when he was twenty, for burglary and assault. He and a teenager assaulted an elderly man on the street, punching him in the face and leaving him with permanent injuries. Rittmeyer was sentenced to twenty-one months in prison and was released in 2009.  At the time of the trial, he was married, with a pregnant wife.  After he called the hotline, Rittmeyer was represented by lawyer Andrew Shubin.


    At his first police interview with officer Michael Cranga on November 29, 2011, Rittmeyer said that Jerry Sandusky had groped him in a swimming pool. Then, while driving a silver convertible, Sandusky had allegedly opened his pants to expose his penis and told Rittmeyer to put it in his mouth. When he refused, Sandusky became angry and told him that if didn’t do it, Rittmeyer would never see his family again. “His life went downhill” subsequently, Cranga wrote in his report, which Rittmeyer apparently blamed on this traumatic event.


    During his grand jury testimony on December 5, 2011, Rittmeyer changed and amplified his story. Now he said that something sexual occurred almost every time he saw Sandusky throughout 1997, 1998, and part of 1999, once or twice a month. Finally, Rittmeyer said that he eventually complied and gave Sandusky oral sex, and vice versa.


    Jerry Sandusky never owned any kind of convertible, nor was it likely that he borrowed or rented one, which would have been quite out of character for him. The Ryan Rittmeyer testimony, filled with inconsistencies as well as a mythical silver convertible, appears even more questionable because the Sanduskys said that they couldn’t even remember him, whereas they readily admitted knowing the other Second Mile accusers. He may have been one of the Second Mile kids who came to their home, but Dottie Sandusky didn’t know his name, and Jerry Sandusky said that if he met him on the street, he would not recognize him.


    There was apparently no repressed memory therapy necessary in Rittmeyer’s case, though it is likely that Shubin sent him for subsequent counseling.


    Matt Sandusky didn’t testify at trial, so he never received a victim number.  The last of the six children to be adopted by Dottie and Jerry Sandusky, at the age of 18, Matt had supported his accused parent during the investigation. In 2011 he had testified in front of the grand jury that his adoptive father had never abused him. But in the middle of the June 2012 trial, apparently after entering psychotherapy, he “flipped,” going to the police to say that Jerry Sandusky had abused him.


    Matt told the police that he was working with a therapist and that “memories of his abuse are just now coming back,” according to the NBC announcer who played portions of the leaked interview tape. When the police asked whether Sandusky had sodomized him or forced him into oral sex, Matt answered: “As of this time, I don’t recall that.”


    But by the time Matt appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s television show in 2014, he had remembered oral sex.  He made it clear to Winfrey that he had not recalled sexual abuse until he was in repressed memory therapy, but this apparently did not make her skeptical in the least. “So based upon what you’re telling me,” Winfrey said to him, “you actually repressed a lot of it.” And Matt replied, “Uh-huh, absolutely. The physical part is the part that, you know, you can erase.”


    When she asked him about first coming forward to talk to the police during the trial, he said, “It was a confusing time.” It wasn’t as if he heard Brett Houtz and all his own abuse memories came rushing back. “My child self had protected my adult self,” he explained. “My child self was holding onto what had happened to me—and taken that from me—so I, I didn’t have the memory of—I didn’t have these memories of the sexual abuse—or with him doing all of the things that he did.” 


    As he listened to the testimony of Brett Houtz and other alleged victims, he felt somehow that “they were telling my story,” but he apparently didn’t remember abuse right away. “They were telling—you know, all of these things start coming back to you, yes, [and] it starts to become very confusing for me and you try and figure out what is real and what you’re making up.”


    In summary, then, repressed memories were key to many of the Sandusky accusations, including the first case which was also the only case for the first two years of the investigation.  Then, when Mike McQueary’s memory of the 2001 shower morphed into actually seeing abuse, the police began a frantic search for more alleged victims, who were “developed,” as prosecutor Jonelle Eshbach put it, through suggestive, leading interview tactics and civil lawyer and therapist involvement.  The jurors did not have the information they needed to evaluate the spoken testimony in its proper context.  If they had known how the testimony was nurtured and created, their opinions about the authenticity of the event might have been altered.


    Instead, as we know, they found Sandusky guilty.  After the verdict, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly held a triumphant press conference outside the courthouse, during which she referred directly to the importance of repressed memories in the Sandusky case:  “It was incredibly difficult for some of them to unearth long-buried memories of the shocking abuse they suffered at the hands of this defendant.”




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  • 11/25/17--12:49: The Return of Vincenzo
  • By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    Former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo is back in the news.

    Fumo, who has kept a low profile since his 2013 release from prison, is the subject of an 8,000-word profile in Philadelphia magazine's December issue, available now on newsstands. "The Vince of Darkness" is also the subject of a book I've written, Target: The Senator; A Story About Power And Abuse of Power, coming soon to amazon.com.

    I met Fumo back in 2008, when I covered his corruption trial that ended with him getting convicted on all 137 felony counts. I've been working on the book on and off for the past eight years. I'll say one thing about Fumo as a subject -- he may be the devil to some, and crazy to others, but he's never been boring.

    The Philly mag story is an interesting read, about Fumo as well as the distorted coverage of him by the Inquirer.



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    By Mark Pendergrast
    for BigTrial.net

    The Jerry Sandusky case continues to make news and ruin lives and careers. It is so toxic that even the most blatantly fraudulent hearsay becomes national headline news. Now Greg Schiano, Ohio State's defense coordinator, has been vilified without any justification whatsoever and has become a pariah.

    Schiano had been selected as the next head football coach at the University of Tennessee.  His hiring was to be announced on Sunday night, Nov. 26, 2017. Instead, after a series of rumor-mongering tweets and political grandstanding, and a graffiti-covered rock on campus proclaiming “SCHIANO COVERED UP CHILD RAPE AT PENN STATE,” he was abruptly dropped like a hot potato.


    Why?  Because of Mike McQueary, who changed his memory from hearing slapping sounds in a shower (of Sandusky snapping towels with a 13-year-old boy) to witnessing sexual abuse, ten years after the event.  And because McQueary then massaged his memory yet again two years ago in a deposition for a civil case, and recalled someone else (assistant coach Tom Bradley) allegedly telling him that Schiano, who was an assistant coach at Penn State from 1990 to 1995, had supposedly said that he saw Sandusky doing something bad to a boy in a shower. 


    So this is 25 years ago he said he said he said he saw something. Both Bradley and Schiano deny ever having heard anything about Sandusky abusing anyone.

    That’s because Schiano never said such a thing to Bradley, and Bradley said no such thing to McQueary. 


    And Sandusky did no such thing.  The real story here is too much for the mass media to acknowledge.  The media are invested in the narrative of Jerry Sandusky the serial pedophile, the Monster.  But guess what? The imprisoned former Penn State football coach may be an innocent man, a victim of a moral panic fed by the sensationalistic media, police trawling, memory-warping psychotherapy, and greed, as I document in my book, The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment. 

    It is a fascinating, complex case that richly deserves this book-length treatment.  Thus, I am unlikely to convince anyone in an article.  (But see this link to a good summary article already available on this website.) Nonetheless, I can’t keep silent when yet another career is being ruined through slanderous triple-hearsay about crimes that never occurred in the first place. 


    In the hothouse atmosphere of college football, politics, money, and moral panics, the mere mention of the named Sandusky is enough to tarnish anyone.  Tennessee bigwigs fell all over themselves condemning Schiano with zero evidence but plenty of mealy-mouthed hypocrisy.  One state representative said, “We don’t need a man who has that type of potential reproach in their life as the football coach. It’s egregious to the people.”  On the contrary, his statement is what is egregious. Three gubernatorial candidates hastened to condemn Schiano as well, while another politico tweeted that “a Greg Schiano hire would be anathema to all that our University and our community stand for.” 


    And what does the University stand for?  Freedom of expression?  Innocent until proven guilty?  Or avoiding any controversy like the plague?  The latter seems to be the current academic approach. Penn State University threw in excess of $100 million at virtually anyone who claimed to be a Sandusky victim, without any investigation, in the same sort of mad rush to keep up appearances. 


    We could all be accused via triple-hearsay of a non-existent crime, especially if we ever had anything to do with Jerry Sandusky – or Mike McQueary, it appears.


    --Mark Pendergrast is the author of The Most Hated Man in America and many other books.  You can write to him via his website, www.markpendergrast.com.




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    By Ralph Cipriano

    It took a near death experience to convince retired Philadelphia police detective Joe Walsh that he couldn't keep quiet anymore about what he knew.

    On June 11, 2015, just another sunny day down at the Jersey Shore, Walsh suddenly felt severe pain in his jaw. An old Army who noticed the color had drained from Walsh's face told him to "Sit down" while he called 911.

    In the ambulance, a paramedic asked Walsh if he liked the T-shirt he was wearing. "Not particularly," Walsh told him. "That's good," the paramedic said, before he cut it ff with scissors. "He hooked me up [to a monitor] and that's all I remember," Walsh says. "Everything went white."

    The rest of the story of Joe Walsh's journey through Philadelphia pedophile priest scandals can be read here.

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    The "Vince of Darkness" is back with a vengeance.

    Philly Voice ran a long interview this morning with former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo.

    Fumo, who spent four years in jail after he was convicted on 137 felony counts, characteristically came out swinging, saying he was the target of "an avalanche of negative publicity," and "prosecutorial over-agression," and that he did not deserve being branded with "The Scarlet Letter."

    In Fumo's case, instead of an "A" like Hester Prynne, he got an "F" emblazoned on his forehead as a convicted felon.

    Philly Voice also ran an excerpt from my new book, Target: The Senator, A Story About Power and Abuse of Power.

    That's on top of an 8,000 word Philly mag profile of Fumo that also discusses the book, which is out on Kindle, and will shortly be available in a paperback, with a hard cover on the way.

    Anybody who reads Target: The Senator will recognize some familiar themes from this blog; overzealous and unaccountable prosecutors and a hometown newspaper that blindly favors them.

    These are the themes that run through so many stories recounted on this blog, including the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse scandals, the rogue cops case, the trials of former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, former L&I Deputy Commissioner Dominic Verdi, and former Penn State President Graham Spanier, as well as the so-called Penn State sex abuse scandal.


    Well the granddaddy of all of the cases in this genre is the Fumo case, which was staged for nearly five months at the federal courthouse back in 2008 and 2009.

    Whether you loathed or loved Fumo, his case was a travesty from start to finish. There were so many leaks, the defendant was being tried and convicted in the media for years before his trial even began.

    In Fumo's case, the feds were able to criminalize politics as usual, and the media and a jury went along with it, deciding that it was a felony for Fumo to fix up an office building, tear down a nuisance bar, rent a car, and put gas in that car. All while the Inquirer portrayed Fumo as Satan.

    It was, as I say in the book, a "cartoon version of reality." So in Target: The Senator, I spent a lot of time explaining who Fumo was, how he got that way, and what the taxpayers lost when the feds staged their moral crusade that took him out.

    As Harvey A. Silverglate, the author of Three Felonies A Day; How the Feds Target the Innocent, writes in the foreword:


    “Target: The Senator brilliantly lays out the federal prosecutorial jihad against one of the most powerful — and colorful — state politicians in recent memory, Vincent J. Fumo . . . . [Cipriano] has interjected truth as a weapon against raw governmental abuse of power and news media gullibility. [He] deserves our thanks for peeling back the curtain on the epic destruction of Fumo, and revealing how it was done. Our job now is to read this important book with care and then to engage, as activist citizens, in an effort to reform the system."

    If a rich and powerful guy like Fumo can't get a fair trial, it's bad news for the rest of us.

    Another good reason to read the book: nobody who read the Inquirer's Fumo coverage has any idea of what really happened in that case. No, Fumo was not convicted of extorting PECO and Verizon; he was never even charged with that.

    What happened in the Fumo case was that the feds, who, recently declassified FBI records show, had targeted Fumo for destruction since the 1970s, were able, with the help of the gullible and irresponsible hometown newspaper, to team up and destroy a guy, along with the presumption of innocence, and a defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial.

    In the book, I had access to thousands of pages of previously confidential grand jury transcripts and FBI "302s," stuff the Inquirer never saw, so I could explain exactly how the feds pulled it off. Fumo, of course, also tells his side of the story for the first time.

    The hometown newspaper's pro-prosecution bias, even when the prosecutor and that prosecution is proven to be corrupt, is laid out elsewhere on this blog in the Newsweek cover story this week about Philadelphia Police Detective Joe Walsh, and his incredible voyage through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's sex abuse prosecutions.

    In this case, a district attorney, Rufus Seth Williams, who is now sitting in solitary confinement in the federal lockup on Market Street, ran with a false prosecution featuring a fraudulent crime victim -- Billy Doe, AKA Danny Gallagher.

    In this case, which is still ongoing, four innocent men were sent to jail, one died there, and we had the amazing specter of the detective who led that investigation for the D.A.'s office, Walsh, coming forward publicly to say it was all a lie, and that he caught Danny Gallagher lying. And when he tried to tell the prosecutor that Gallagher was a liar, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, she replied, "You're killing my case."

    Walsh's story is all laid out in two court cases as well as a 12-page affidavit filed in Court. It's a story that's on the cover of Newsweek from coast to coast, and the blind people at the Inquirer still refuse to print a word about it. Amazing.

    Instead, in the news columns and editorial pages of the Inquirer, the story is always the same, rapacious priests and innocent victims, as illustrated in Maria Panaritis's recent opus on the lasting damage done by Father James Bryzyski. 

    I'm not saying that isn't a story. It sure is. But so is Detective Walsh coming forward, and so is Danny Gallagher being revealed as a complete fraud. A guy who sent four innocent men to jail, and stole $5 million from the Catholic Church in a civil settlement for his imaginary pain and suffering.


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    Courtroom sketch by Susan Schary
    From Target: The Senator, Chapter One

    By Ralph Cipriano

    In the back of a prison bus, a U.S. marshal was sitting in a steel cage, armed with a shotgun. He was watching over forty men dressed in blue paper jumpsuits and shackled in handcuffs, belly chains, and leg irons.

    Most of the inmates were tattooed young drug dealers with buzz cuts and shaved heads. The oldest guy on the bus, however, looked like somebody’s hippie uncle with his scruffy mop of silver hair and the full white beard he had sprouted in prison. Fellow prisoners called him “Pops,” “Daddy-O,” and “OG,” as in the “Original Gangster.”


    As the bus rumbled over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia, many young drug dealers were catnapping in their seats. The OG, however, was peering through security bars and tinted windows at a skyline that reflected the glory of a past life.


    They used to call him “The Senator.” In the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania, mayors and governors came and went. But from his stronghold in the Pennsylvania Senate, where he held the purse strings to the state budget, Vincent J. Fumo reigned for nearly a generation as a power broker.


    As the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, whether the Democrats were in power or not, anyone who needed money from the state budget had to go through the senator, including Republicans in the majority. Life for the man the press dubbed the “Machiavelli of Harrisburg” became a seemingly endless series of deals to cut, favors to trade, and power to accumulate.

    With the blessing of the senator, you could get elected mayor, legislator, or judge. With the blessing of the senator, you could build a convention center, stadium, or concert hall.


    This was especially true in Fumo’s hometown of Philadelphia, where the senator lined up funding for major public works projects. The fruits of his labors were visible everywhere you looked.


    In Center City, the senator brought home $1 billion to build and expand the Pennsylvania Convention Center, spanning three city blocks, and $100 million to fund the concert halls and theaters lining South Broad Street, on the city’s Avenue of the Arts.

    On the east side of t own, the senator earmarked $50 million for a sprawling new National Constitution Center built on Independence Mall, near the Liberty Bell.

    On the west side, the senator set aside $100 million to move the Barnes Foundation, the largest collection of Impressionist art in America, from the Philadelphia suburbs to the scenic Benjamin Franklin Parkway. (Despite critics who claimed that Fumo “stole” the art collection over the body of Dr. Albert C. Barnes.)

    In South Philadelphia, Fumo brought home $180 million to finance two new stadiums for the Eagles and Phillies.

    While Fumo was in power, hundreds of billions of dollars in state and federal appropriations flowed through his hands without the feds ever accusing him of selling his office or taking a bribe or kickback. He wound up in prison, however, after a jury convicted him on 137 felony counts that he would gladly tell you amounted to “pure bullshit.”

    The crimes of which Fumo was found guilty included sending his driver out on state time to pick up his freshly pressed oxford shirts, accepting as gifts tens of thousands of dollars worth of free power tools, and using credit cards from a nonprofit to go on shopping sprees at Sam’s Club.

    As a result of his petty crime spree, Fumo was no longer the senator, he was inmate 62033-066. And on the afternoon of November 2, 2011, after two years in exile, he was coming home in chains to a city where he was once feared but now revile.

                            *                          *                        *


    At lunchtime on the road, prisoners on the bus usually were handed a paper bag filled with a few slices of bread, a slice of bologna, and a slice of yellow processed cheese.

    Nothing went to waste. On a day that started out at a chilly thirty-seven degrees, Fumo used the paper bag for insulation, stuffing it inside his paper jumpsuit to keep warm.

    When he was the senator, Fumo used to stroll into La Veranda, his favorite restaurant overlooking the Delaware River, and order his favorite dishes: linguine with tuna, broccoli rabe, and a rare veal chop. But as the Original Gangster on the bus, Fumo had to learn how to eat a bologna sandwich while wearing handcuffs.

    He began the process by taking a deep breath, to free up an extra few inches on the belly chain attached to his handcuffs. Next, he used his left hand to raise the chain to his chest while he simultaneously extended his right hand holding the sandwich to his mouth. Finally, he bent his head down to take a bite.

    He had the routine down pat, but today, no sandwich. The inmates were going hungry aboard “Con Air,” the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ notoriously slow and inefficient transportation system.

    Fumo’s odyssey on Con Air began at 5:00 a.m. on October 20, 2011, when he climbed aboard the bus outside the federal prison camp in Ashland, Kentucky. When Fumo saw some of the scary characters he was traveling with, he was glad everybody was in chains.

    From Kentucky, Fumo rode for the bus for thirteen bumpy hours to the federal prison in Atlanta, where he stayed in lockdown for a week. From Monday to Friday, he was confined to his cell for twenty-three hours. He had one hour to eat, shower, and make phone calls. And on the weekend, he was confined to his cell for forty-eight straight hours.

    In Atlanta, Fumo was taken into custody by U.S. marshals. He boarded a plane in shackles for a three-hour flight to Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, New York. When he got off the plane, Fumo rode another bus for three hours to the federal prison in Brooklyn, where he stayed for a week in a crowded dormitory furnished with bunk beds.

    The final leg of his trip was a two-hour bus ride from Brooklyn to Philadelphia.

    It took the U.S. Bureau of Prisons two weeks to transport Fumo 500 miles from Kentucky to Philadelphia, an eight-hour trip by car, a one-hour flight by private plane.

     Con Air, also known as “diesel therapy,” was taxing on the young and healthy. But at 68, Fumo was neither. He had a stent in his heart and two titanium rods in his back. He was also going without his meds.

    Fumo took fifteen daily prescriptions for heart disease, depression, anxiety, a longstanding chemical imbalance, high blood pressure, diabetes, and restless leg syndrome. When he didn’t take his meds, a facial tic flared and his legs twitched.

    He was on the way home at the request of federal prosecutors who were outraged over the sentence the prisoner had received from U.S. District Court Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter.

    Fifty-five months in prison, the prosecutors said, was way too lenient for somebody who had just been convicted by a jury on 137 felony counts. That’s why the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia took the unusual step of appealing Fumo’s sentence. A federal appeals court agreed with the prosecutors and overturned the sentence.

    So, after serving two and a half years of his original sentence at the federal prison in Kentucky, Fumo was on his way back to Philadelphia to be resentenced by the same judge.

    If the prosecutors got their way, and they were seeking a sentence of at least fifteen years, Fumo would probably die in prison. The prisoner, however, was praying for mercy.

                            *                          *                        *


    At the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, the inmates climbed down off the bus in matching orange plastic slippers. Correctional officers, known as COs, passed out nonlethal writing instruments in the form of bendable ballpoint pen refills

    At every facility, BOP regulations required the inmates to fill out the same three forms. The first form gave the BOP the authority to open a prisoner’s mail and monitor his phone calls. The second form asked if the prisoner was thinking about committing suicide or using drugs. The third form asked each inmate to specify who would get his property in the event of his untimely death.

    As Fumo was filling out the federal forms for the third time on his journey, a female CO recognized him and whispered to a colleague, “The VIP.”

    Fumo was elated. “I’m on Broadway,” he thought. His lawyer, or one of his old pals in office, must have put in the fix.

    The two female COs, however, promptly escorted Fumo to a special holding cell, where he sat for a couple of hours. Next, Fumo was taken to the SHU, or Special Housing Units, a.k.a. “the hole,” where he would spend the next twenty-one days in solitary confinement.

    The reason: because of widespread publicity over his case, Fumo was considered a high-profile inmate that the BOP didn’t want mixing with the general prison population.

    The marshals wouldn’t let Fumo dine with his lawyers. So back in the hole, Fumo had to choke down more bad prison food that had already packed an extra sixteen pounds on his six-foot, 180-pound frame.

    Meals were delivered on a plastic tray slid through a slot in the cell door. One night, Fumo took the tray over to his bunk bed and pried the lid off dinner. To his surprise, he saw at first glance what appeared to be a half-inch thick slice of perfectly cooked medium-rare roast beef; brown on the outside and pink in the middle.

    It seemed in vivid contrast to the well-done shoe leather usually served. Then Fumo took a bite and discovered that the meat wasn’t beef, just a piece of ham so old it had turned brown around the edges.

                                    *                          *                        *


    A week after he arrived in Philadelphia, on the day he was going to court, a male CO escorted Fumo to a private room where he unlocked the prisoner’s handcuffs, belly chain, and leg irons. Then Fumo had to take off his jumpsuit and stand naked. He had to open his mouth on command and move his tongue from side-to-side, to show the CO he wasn’t hiding anything.

    That wasn’t the only potential hiding place that had to be inspected. The CO told Fumo to lift his scrotum. Then, Fumo had to turn around and face the wall.

    The prisoner raised one foot at a time, so the CO could see the bottoms of both feet. Finally, Fumo had to squat and cough.

    The first time he was strip-searched, the CO on duty couldn’t have been kinder and more professional. But after more than two years in jail, the dehumanizing procedure had become numbingly routine.

    The COs went about their duties with the clinical attitudes of doctors, but BOP regulations were relentless. Fumo kept count of the number of times he’d been strip-searched during his fourteen-day Con Air trip from Kentucky to Philadelphia. He stopped counting at twenty-five.

    For a politician who hated bureaucracies all his life, Fumo was trapped in the belly of the beast. After Fumo got dressed, the CO wrapped the belly chain around the prisoner’s waist and locked his handcuffs. Then the CO escorted him on a five-minute walk through the underground catacombs that connected the prison with the courthouse.

    When they got to the courtroom, it was jammed. A marshal told Fumo he hadn’t seen this many reporters at the last mob trial.

    The notoriety of the Fumo case was due to the relentless crusading zeal of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The hometown newspaper had been investigating Fumo for the past eight years.During the height of its Fumo obsession, when the former senator went on trial, the Inquirer published 714 articles, editorials and letters about Fumo in 2008 and 2009, a staggering rate of 351 a year, or nearly one a day.*

    [Footnote: That was more than two-and-one-half times the 271 articles, editorials and letters published during the same two-year period about Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell, a former Philadelphia mayor, who, after Fumo’s departure from office, was the most powerful politician in Pennsylvania.]

    Or as Philadelphia magazine put it in 2008, “To say the Inquirer has covered Fumo … is akin to saying the Titanic took on some water.”

                                       *                          *                        *

    For the resentencing of Fumo, the Inquirer had a photographer, a columnist, and two reporters on hand, one of whom was blogging live updates for philly.com, the newspaper’s free website.

    A reporter from the Philadelphia Daily News, the Inquirer’ssister tabloid, was there as well, along with reporters from KYW, the city’s all-news radio station the Associated Press, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and several Philadelphia television stations.

    The prisoner entered the courtroom looking rumpled and hunched over in his olive green jumpsuit, blue sneakers, and handcuffs. His hair was mussed up and his new beard startled many observers.

    The first person Fumo recognized was his twenty-one-year-old raven-haired daughter, Allison, who looked thin and depressed. “I love you,” Fumo mouthed. Next, Fumo saw Carolyn Zinni, his bombshell of a fiancée fourteen years his junior, staring at him with a look of concern. Fumo sent her the same message.

    As he trudged toward the defense table, the defendant, at the request of his lawyers, did not return the stares of the two federal prosecutors who had devoted years of their lives to putting him away.

    But Fumo knew they were there. In prison emails monitored by the Bureau of Prisons, Fumo habitually referred to the two prosecutors as “PP&P,” for the cartoon characters they reminded him of: Porky Pig and the Penguin. The prosecutors, however, didn’t think it was funny.

    The marshal removed Fumo’s handcuffs, and for the first time in two years the old inmate with the aching back sat down in a real chair. The sensation was overwhelming. There were no decent chairs in prison, just metal stools and hard plastic seats.

    This is wonderful, Fumo thought.

    So the defendant had a comfortable seat for the resentencing hearing that would stretch across two days. Much of the testimony, however, would leave Fumo in a deeper state of depression.

    A doctor from the Bureau of Prisons testified about the litany of ailments Fumo suffered from. Meanwhile, the defendant hung his head, and a Daily News reporter noticed that “a facial tic seemed more pronounced.”

    On the witness stand, an FBI agent read an embarrassing report from Fumo’s psychiatrist that amounted to a mental strip search:

    “Vincent J. Fumo experiences an insatiable urge to acquire power (political), people, women and objects [houses, cars, machinery] to compensate for his low sense of self-esteem,” the FBI agent read. 

    “This driven quality manifested throughout the treatment as an addictive force,” the agent read. “He [Fumo] would describe the urge to acquire as uncontrollable and regretted his decisions after the fact. … When his urge to acquire could not be satisfied, his low self-esteem generated unbearable anxiety usually relieved by alcohol, tranquilizers, and food.”
         
                                             *                          *                        *


    Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer stood to address the judge. Short, bald and professorial, Zauzmer was the prosecutor Fumo referred to as the Penguin. He explained why Fumo deserved a prison sentence much longer than fifty-five months.

    The prosecutor held up Exhibit 24, the government’s sentencing memorandum, “in which we itemize twenty-seven areas of perjury” committed by the defendant, Zauzmer said.

    The jury had convicted Fumo on 137 counts of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and conspiring to file a false tax return on behalf of a charity he had set up, but Fumo was never charged with perjury. That didn’t stop Zauzmer from accusing Fumo of twenty-seven new crimes in an attempt to justify a longer sentence.

    “Our view was on any material issue before the jury,” Zauzmer told the judge, “Mr. Fumo told the false story that he thought benefited him and committed maybe the most egregious trial perjury any of us have witnessed.”

    Next up was Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Pease, the stocky, combative prosecutor whom Fumo referred to as Porky Pig. Pease returned the favor by making an issue of the prisoner’s appearance.

    Fumo had “$5,000 suits” back in the closet of his city mansion, the prosecutor asserted, but he had deliberately come to court “looking like the Unabomber” in a blatant attempt to win the judge’s sympathy.*

    [Footnote: According to Fumo, the most expensive handmade suit he owned cost him $1,500.]

    In his litany of Fumo’s crimes against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pease included a personal grievance. He called me names, the prosecutor said. But Pease quickly returned to the moral high ground.

     “With this defendant, it’s a badge of honor to be called the names he called me,” Pease told the judge. “By someone who is so corrupt and dishonest as this defendant … .”

    Over at the defense table, Fumo couldn’t suppress a smile. He had gotten under the prosecutor’s skin. In politics, that counted for something.

    “You also should consider the fact whether or not this is a person who is remorseful, and who recognizes that he’s engaged in wrongdoing,” Pease lectured the judge. “In other words, has he learned his lesson? Has he learned anything from the experience of having sat in this courtroom for five months, listening to over a hundred witnesses testify… ?”

    Pease didn’t think so. The proof, the prosecutor said, was in the prisoner’s own profane rants recorded on the prison email system.

    “He’s somebody who says, ‘I got convicted of technical bullshit.’ That’s how he talks about the crime, in his words,” Pease told the judge. In his eMails, Pease noted, in a voice dripping with disgust, Fumo compared himself to Jesus Christ, Julius Caesar, and the Jews killed during the Holocaust.

     “This is no martyr,” Pease thundered. “This man is no victim. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is a criminal who engaged in a systematic effort to defraud the Senate and two nonprofit organizations, lied about it repeatedly during his trial, is continuing to engage in fraudulent conduct, [and is] planning revenge on those he thinks did him wrong."

    Dennis Cogan, Fumo’s slender, veteran defense attorney, told the judge that the proof of the government’s continuing vendetta against his client was that the prosecutors would stoop so low as to publish Fumo’s prison emails in their latest court filing, emails that were republished on the front page of the Inquirer.

    The government was eavesdropping on “pillow talk” between Fumo and his fiancée, Cogan lamented, as well as “heart-wrenching” letters that Fumo wrote to his daughter.

    “They had to read his emails because, not that they thought that Carolyn Zinni and he were planning a jailbreak, but to let him know that they also want to know what’s in his mind,” Cogan told the judge.

    “Big Brother’s going to be watching wherever you are,” Cogan argued. “It’s nothing about prison security or anything like that. …”

    “Well at least in this case, Big Brother gave a sufficient warning,” the judge deadpanned. The judge knew that every time an inmate sat down in front of a federal computer, a notice appeared on the screen warning that all prison emails were continuously monitored by the BOP.

    But that didn’t stop Fumo, who’d been in psychotherapy for forty years and who rarely had an unexpressed thought. Behind bars, the prisoner vented his rage and hit the send button.

    In court, however, the prosecutors were using Fumo’s angry words against him, to show he was unrepentant.

    Cogan argued that the government’s vendetta against his client was all out of proportion to the actual crimes committed.

    “In this case that does not involve bribery or extortion or the selling of one’s office,” Cogan said, “the government continues to press for a sentence that they know substantially raises the odds that Vince Fumo leaves prison only in a coffin.”

                                        *                          *                        *


    Vince Fumo had written out what he wanted to say to the judge in longhand with a ballpoint pen refill on a yellow legal pad. One of Fumo’s lawyers had gone through the speech, using a red fine tip marker to cross out remarks deemed too argumentative.

    The prisoner stood unbound in front of the judge; Cogan was at his side. And then Fumo read through his entire speech, including the redlined comments. Like any seasoned politician on the stump, he also did some ad-libbing.

    “I want to apologize for my disheveled appearance,” Fumo began, “but it has been a long trip, and I am very limited in what I can do with my appearance — my beard, my hair.”

    “As to the jumpsuit, Your Honor,” Fumo said, “I asked that my family bring clothes so I didn’t have to wear this to court.” But, Fumo said, it was the policy of the U.S. Marshals that a prisoner didn’t get a change of clothes unless he was standing in front of a jury.

    “I didn’t intend to come here this way,” the prisoner ad-libbed.

    Fumo was talking to the judge as if he were an old friend, or a fellow politician whose vote he badly needed.

    “Your Honor, I gave my life to the Senate and to government,” Fumo said, because he wanted to help people. “There’s no greater euphoria, Your Honor, for a human being than to be able to help another human being. There’s not a bigger high.”

    From the highs of public office, Fumo descended to the humiliation of having to confess that he was a prescription drug addict in an unsuccessful bid to get into the prison drug program, which would have shaved a year off his sentence.

    He seemed overqualified. A photo previously introduced in court as evidence showed the senator’s overflowing medicine cabinet, which Cogan described as “something you’d see at Michael Jackson’s house.”

    “I have laid before the world openly my problems,” Fumo said about his abuse of prescription drugs while the government was closing in on him. Between January 2006 and February 2007, doctors had prescribed for the senator more than 1,000 doses of Ambien, Xanax and Darvocet.

    “I did it knowingly,” Fumo confessed. “I did it because it was an escape, especially during times in this investigation, and during these proceedings.”

    “I’ve been clean ever since I entered prison,” Fumo said, “but I have to admit that many times I still long for some Xanax,” he said. “This might be one of those times.

     “I’m tired, depressed. All I want is peace.”

    Next, Fumo brought up his angry prison emails that were such a hit with the prosecutors and the press. In X-rated language, Fumo had railed about “my so-called crime,” raged against the Inquirer, and ripped the jurors who convicted him as “dumb, corrupt, and prejudiced.”

    The remark about the jury had clearly pissed off the judge. Standing in front of Buckwalter, Fumo tried in vain to repair the damage.

     “Your Honor, I never, ever would have dreamed that they would have been published,” Fumo said about his prison emails. “Never.”

    “Yes, I’m angry, yes, I’m depressed,” Fumo admitted. “And now, to all those people that I may have said bad things about in my most angry of moments, I apologize.”

    Finally, to the chagrin of his lawyers, Fumo went off-script one more time to address the vitriol of the prosecutors.

    “I may be viewed as an evil person, [but] “I don’t agree with that assessment, Your Honor,” Fumo said. “I did a lot of good for a lot of people. …

    “I’m a human being. I have frailties, I have problems. And I have a psychological problem of OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder]. I’ve got all this stuff. I’m a complicated person.”

    Then, the defendant made a confession.

     “And yes, at the peak of my power, I was one tough son of a bitch.”

    But in the Pennsylvania Senate, the prisoner told the judge, “There’s nobody walking around in togas and sandals talking philosophy.

    “It’s a battle.”



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    John Gotti's mob legacy.


    Story from realclearlife.com can be read HERE.

    "It's a dark comedy" -- George Anastasia

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    Attention Philadelphia: your newly-elected District Attorney, Progressive Larry Krasner, is already getting started on his new job, but that may not be a good thing.

    According to a Nov. 29th mass email sent out to hundreds of employees in the D.A.'s office, Krasner sought and was granted permission by interim D.A. Kelley Hodge to have his transition team review the personnel files of those hundreds of employees, presumably to help decide who's going and who's staying in a  Krasner administration. The review according to the mass email, was supposed to be conducted last week, but one union official, FOP President John McNesby, said he did not believe that any of the reviews had actually been done yet.

    That may be because of an ongoing ethical problem. Krasner, a longtime civil rights lawyer who's sued the city's police department 75 times, and provided pro-bono representation for the likes of ACT UP, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy Philly, isn't officially the D.A. yet, and he won't be until he's sworn in on Jan. 2nd.

    Krasner, who could not be reached for comment, apparently has tasked a lawyer from the firm that he is now of counsel to, Patricia Pierce of Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt & Flores, to help review those personnel files at the D.A.'s office. Krasner also has been seen visiting the D.A.'s office at Penn Square a few times, along with members of his transition team, who supposedly have been given office space by the interim D.A. The reaction among some employees at the D.A.'s office has been paranoia.

    "People were freaking out," said one source familiar with the process. "I think everybody's worried about being fired."

    But did Krasner, who got elected thanks to donations of nearly $1.7 million from billionaire George Soros, jump the gun with his request to review those personnel files? Yes says one expert on legal ethics.

    "I don't think he has a right to do that yet," said Samuel C. Stretton, a criminal defense lawyer who has tried hundreds of cases, and lectures and writes frequently about legal and judicial ethics.

    According to Stretton, Krasner's transition team can't legally review the personnel files at the D.A.'s office without a court order, or the consent of the employees. But from the way the Nov. 29th mass email to the employees was written, saying no to Progressive Larry did not appear to be an option.

    On Nov. 29th, a mass email went out from First Deputy District Attorney John Delaney, addressed to all "D.A. domino users." Under the subject line "transition," Delaney wrote:

    "D.A, Elect Krasner has asked that his transition team review the personnel files of office employees. The District Attorney has agreed to his request, and that review will begin next week. If you as an employee of the office would like to inspect your personnel file, in accord with the office policy, you may do so tomorrow or Friday. The files are in the small conference room 1840, at the end of the middle hallway on the 18th floor, opposite the large conference room. A member of the human resources department will be present and will provide the file to you. You may not add to or subtract from the file . . .

    "To enable an orderly inspection, the following times are strongly suggested. If you can not make your suggested time, you may appear at another time. If you wish to inspect your file but cannot do so tomorrow or Friday, please contact Kathy Martin."

    That's kind of funny because Martin, a former first assistant district attorney under former D.A. Seth Williams, before Williams was indicted and sent to jail, has already turned in her resignation, and will be leaving next month.

    The files, according to the email, were viewable from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday Nov. 30th and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday Dec. 1st.

    Stretton says he understands Krasner's desire for expediency.

    "He's not the D.A. yet, but he will be shortly," Stretton said. "I'm sure he [Krasner] has the best intentions," Stretton said. "But, he's coming into an office with a lot of dissension so let's do it the right way."

    The right way, Stretton said, would have been to either wait until he's sworn in, or seek the consent of the employees, and give them the option of saying no to a personnel file review.

    "The new district attorney doesn't want to start off by breaking the law," Stretton said. "His job is to uphold the law. It's a little disappointing to me that Larry Krasner is off to a bad start."

    When told some employees had complained about the review of their personnel files, Stretton said, "I think people have a right to be offended."

    Asked about how this development bodes for the new Krasner administration, Stretton said, "This is not a good omen."

    Nor is the way Krasner has handled Big Trial's request for an explanation of what Krasner is up to down at the D.A.'s office.

    Cameron Kline, a spokesperson for the D.A.'s office, did not respond to a request for comment last week.

    Lawyers at Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt & Flores also did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the folks at krasnertradition.com, the website set up by Progressive Larry that promises "a new era in criminal justice."

    So the newly-elected D.A. isn't talking; neither is Interim D.A. Kelley Hodge. But former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who served as the city's top law enforcement officer for 20 years, said she didn't set foot in the D.A.'s office until the day she was sworn in.

    "You can certainly quote me that I didn't handle it that way, and you can bet your boots Seth Williams  didn't set foot in that office until he was sworn in," Abraham wrote in an email.

    Pierce is a law partner at the firm that Krasner is now a part of.

    On Sept. 6, 2017, Krasner merged his firm of Krasner and Associates with the Greenblatt firm and "will be joining the firm on an Of Counsel basis," according to the Greenblatt firm's website.

    "We are so proud to have Mr. Krasner and the other members of Kranser and Associations join our firm," the website said. "We are thrilled that he has selected us to be the firm he wishes to transition his clients to while he pursues his goal of becoming Philadelphia's next District Attorney. We look forward to working with Mr. Krasner in these upcoming months and to easing his transition back into public life. As importantly, we also look forward to serving his clients."

    John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he was aware of the review of the personnel files, but he did not think the reviews had been done yet.

    "The transition team was granted access to review the attorneys' files for any discipline or negative performance info," McNesby said. "Each had to sign a confidentiality waiver that they do not discuss it."

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    The D.A.'s Star Witness
    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    If you're caught in a lie, when do you have to admit it?

    If you're the district attorney's office of Philadelphia, never.

    So the D.A.'s office, under Interim D.A. Kelley Hodge, is upholding the corrupt regime of her predecessor, Rufus Seth Williams, by continuing to pursue a retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn.

    Never mind that Williams is wearing a jumpsuit and sitting in a federal prison in Oklahoma, where he's doing a five-year stretch for taking bribes.

    Or that Danny Gallagher, the D.A.'s former star witness in the case against Msgr. Lynn, is hiding out down in Florida, with his ill-gotten gains. That's the $5 million that Gallagher stole in a civil settlement from the Catholic Church, a heist made possible by the corrupt acts of D.A. Williams, who certified that a fraud like Danny Gallagher was an official victim of sex abuse.

    In a 25-page brief filed Dec. 5th in state Superior Court, the D.A.'s office seeks to overturn Judge Gwendolyn Bright's motion to limit the evidence that the D.A. can present in a retrial of Msgr. Lynn. The defendant's lawyers, however, have a more ambitious goal; they're seeking to have the retrial thrown out on grounds of double jeopardy because of intentional prosecutorial misconduct.

    Lynn is a free man because the Superior Court in 2015, for the second time in three years, overturned the monsignor's original 2012 conviction on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, namely Gallagher.

    On March 24th, Judge Bright ruled that "certain information should have been provided to the defense," such as Detective Joe Walsh's trial prep of Gallagher. Walsh testified that he repeatedly questioned Gallagher about several factual discrepancies in his various tales of abuse, and that Gallagher responded by either claiming he was high on drugs, saying nothing, or inventing new stories.

    In her March 24th ruling, Judge Bright said the prosecutorial misconduct in the Lynn case was sufficient to justify granting a new trial to the defendant. But since Msgr. Lynn had already been granted a new trial by the state Superior Court, the judge said, she didn't have to do anything else.

    Well, there was one thing she could have done. If Judge Bright had found that the prosecutorial misconduct in the Msgr. Lynn case was intentional, then she could have thrown out the retrial on grounds of double jeopardy.

    But the judge ruled that a "total dismissal is not a sanction warranted under the facts," and that there was "insufficient evidence to support such a remedy."

    Well, Judge, I would say that if you know your star witness is a liar, and you put him on the witness stand anyway, that sounds intentional to me. Especially if the lead detective on the case, Detective Walsh, has already told your prosecutor that Gallagher is a liar, and the prosecutor responded by saying, "You're killing my case."

    And that's exactly what Lynn's lawyers -- Thomas A. Bergstrom, Marc Tepper, and David A. Schumacher -- argue in their 24-page appeal brief filed Dec. 1st.

    The defense cites the original grand jury report of Jan, 21 2011, where it notes that "the grand jury investigation began with the tearful testimony" of Danny Gallagher. He's the former altar boy who claimed that during the 1998-99 school year, when he was a 10 year old fifth grader, he was repeatedly raped by two priests and a Catholic school teacher.

    The defense lawyers concentrate on three lies that Gallagher told that were published in the grand jury report, a report the defense says was written by former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen,

    Lie No. 1 --- Gallagher claimed that back when he was in fifth grade, he was a member of the bell choir maintenance crew at St. Jerome's Church in Northeast Philly. It was while he was putting the bells away after a concert, Gallagher claimed, that he was first accosted by Father Edward V. Avery, one of his attackers.

    As anybody who's been reading this blog knows, three of Gallagher's former teachers testified that only eighth graders were big enough to lift the heavy bells and tables used by the bell choir, so there were no fifth grade members of the bell choir crew.

    Lie No. 2 -- Danny Gallagher claimed he was serving at an early morning Mass when he was first attacked by Father Charles Engelhardt. Walsh, the defense lawyers wrote, found out that Danny's older brother James, also an altar boy at the same school, was the kid who served the early morning Mass. Walsh also found out that James Gallagher said his parents drove him to and from the church, and that the sexton, a senior citizen volunteer at the church, was the last person to lock up and leave the building.

    The presence of the sexton would have been another reason not to believe Danny Gallagher's fables that he was alone in the sacristy after the early morning Mass when the priest raped him.

    Lie No. 3 -- the grand jury report claimed that Gallagher's mother noticed a big personality change in her son while he was still at St. Jerome's. Gallagher's mother, however, testified to the grand jury that she noticed the big personality change when her son was a freshman in high school, and got kicked out for possession of marijuana and brass knuckles. Not while Danny was in elementary school, at St. Jerome's.

    But the resourceful D.A.'s office solved that problem by simply rewriting the mother's grand jury testimony to fit their plot line.

    In their appeal brief, the defense lawyers harp on the fact that the D.A.'s office had to know that Danny Gallagher was a liar.

    "Despite the fact that it [the D.A.'s office] knew that it's primary witness was lying, the Commonwealth proceeded with its manufactured case against [Lynn] and put Gallagher on the stand," the defense lawyers wrote. "During his testimony, Gallagher falsely stated that he was part of the bell crew and choir in the 5th grade. Gallagher also falsely testified that he served the 6:15 a. m. Mass" with the priest in fifth grade.

    "But when the Commonwealth's lead investigator challenged Gallagher on these facts prior to trial, he could not adequately respond," the defense lawyers wrote. "And when the Commonwealth's lead investigator challenged [Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen] on these facts prior to trial, the response was, 'You're killing my case."

    "Yet the Commonwealth proceeded to trial against [Lynn] anyway, desperate for a conviction, failing along the way to disclose those facts to [Lynn] and essentially suborning perjury," the defense wrote. "And, notwithstanding its knowledge then of these facts the Commonwealth continues to ignore the reality that its key witness is a liar, and continues to re-prosecute [Lynn] , still desperate for the conviction it rightfully lost on appeal."

    In summation, the defense lawyers claim that the prosecutorial misconduct in the D.A.'s office was intentional.

    "The Commonwealth abandoned their legal, ethical and moral responsibilities by presenting false testimony to two juries, resulting in the conviction and imprisonment of three men, one of whom died in prison."

    The defense lawyers point out that in previous cases, the Superior Court has held that when the prosecution "intentionally engages in misconduct to deprive a defendant of a fair trial, double jeopardy attaches."

    "Here, the Commonwealth improperly prepared Gallagher to testify, despite what it knew from Walsh, and continues to prosecute this case to this day, again despite what it knows from Walsh," the defense lawyers wrote.

    In their 25-page brief, three top officials from the D.A.'s office, Hugh Burns Jr., Ronald Eisenberg, and John P. Delaney Jr., along with Interim D.A. Kelley Hodge, don't even mention the name of Detective Joe Walsh. Nor do they address any issue of misconduct.

    Apparently, at the D.A.'s office, where the last occupant went to jail, they're above all that.

    Instead, the D.A.'s entire 25-page brief, the D.A. attacks the "continuing criminal scheme" of Msgr. Lynn, which was a "pattern of intentionally mishandling other sexually abusive priests with the intent to shelter" both the priests and the church at large from scandal.

    When Lynn was first tried, the trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, approved the introduction as evidence of 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse dating back to 1948, three years before Msgr. Lynn was born, to show a pattern in the archdiocese of covering up sex abuse.

    When the Superior Court threw out Lynn's conviction in 2015, a three-judge panel found that the evidence provided by the 21 cases was far exceeded by their prejudicial effect.

    When the D.A. went to retry the case, they asked Judge Bright to admit nine supplemental cases of sex abuse to show a pattern of church cover ups. The judge approved the admission of only three cases.

    So in their appeal brief, the D.A.'s office wants the judge's order overturned, arguing that all nine cases should be presented as evidence.

    "The criminal plan shown by the evidence is the very same plan the defendant himself created and implemented, to elude his responsibility to protect children from sexually abusive priests," the prosecutors wrote. "It was by executing that criminal plan that he [Lynn] deliberately put children at risk; that is the very offense for which he is to be tried."

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    By Harvey A. Silverglate

    My criminal defense and civil liberties law practice, spanninghalf a century, has exposed me to several shockingly broad gaps in American life between appearance and reality. 

    No gap, in my experience, has been broader than that between the commonly accepted reputation of federal criminal justice and the sordid realities of how the United States Department of Justice, often with the connivance of the federal judiciary, dispenses justice.

    A disproportionate number of federal trial and appellate court judges are former prosecutors, and so there is an uncomfortable amount of symbiosis between the Justice Department and the bench. The number and variety of innocent people railroaded by the system would be sufficient to undermine any semblance of public confidence in federal criminal justice if the public understood the details of these cases.


    Ralph Cipriano has now taken a giant step in this educational (and muckraking) endeavor. He has written a book describing in often dramatic detail the trials and tribulations of longtime Pennsylvania state Senator (and one-time unchallenged legislative powerhouse) Vincent J. Fumo. Cipriano’s contribution to our understanding is how the system worksand how it enhances the career prospects and power of federal prosecutors while mercilessly, and too often falsely, destroying the lives and careers of the targets. Target: The Senator; A Story About Power and Abuse of Power, is a worthy successor to my own effort to pull open the proverbial wizard’s curtain in the Land of Oz and expose the not-so-obvious manipulations being performed.

    In 2009 I published Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. Those familiar with the depredations and depravities of federal criminal justice praised the book. Those who were ignorant of how the system reallyworked questioned in disbelief the real-life stories that I recounted. Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, and a few federal judges, departed from their colleagues to let me know usually in confidence, but onlyon very rare occasion publicly that I was on to something. The subtitle of my book “how the feds target the innocent” was nothyperbolic.

    I hope that anyone who has doubted the extent to which federal prosecutors are able to, and in fact do with alarming regularity, target the innocent, has been cured of any such illusions by now. However, these kinds of systemic surveys of the dark corners of federal criminal justice one thinks alsoof Licensed to Lie by former federal prosecutor-turned-defense lawyer Sydney Powell (2014) are not quite adequate to the task. They are necessary, but not sufficient, for alerting the public and the media as to how an innocent citizen, even a powerful one, can be railroaded.

    What has been lacking to date has been a detailed, book-length, step-by-step depiction, in a single case, of precisely how it is done. Cipriano has brilliantly filled in that gap, and now the general public, as well as journalists who so often report on federal prosecutions with all the gullibility of a victim of a three-card monte game, will be able to blame nobody but themselves if they believe the often-blatant propaganda that accompanies so many of these prosecutions and the news reports purporting to cover them.

    Target: The Senator brilliantly lays out the federal prosecutorial jihad against one of the most powerful and colorful state politicians in recent memory, Vincent J. Fumo, who for so long dominated state politics in his position in the Pennsylvania Senate, a rank he attained after earlier apprentice years spent climbing the ladder. “In the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania,” Cipriano writes, “mayors and governors came and went. But from his stronghold in the Pennsylvania Senate, where he held the purse strings to the state budget, Vincent J. Fumo reigned for nearly a generation as a power broker.”

    The primaryfocus of Cipriano’s fast-paced and often breathtaking account, however, is not so much the life and career of this fascinating political figure, but rather the federal prosecutors, aided and abetted by often manipulative agents of the FBI, who together were determined to bring down the large prey in their gun sights. This is often done for personal career advancement, but sometimes, it would appear, merely for the enhanced institutional power of the agency for which they worked.

    Cipriano has a better understanding of the criminal justice system than most lawyers and even many judges. The phenomenon that he so deftly dissects will have the ring of truth to the sophisticated and experienced criminal justice system participant (including defendant victims and prisoners). To others, the book will be a new and shocking experience that in the end will be depressingly educational.

    Fumo was surely no angel, but his more questionable and rangy activities were not serious violations of clear statutes and regulations, but, rather, ethically dubiouspushes against the borders of propriety. Fumo was perhaps deserving of an occasional slap across the wrist, but the howitzer that the feds were able to bring to bear in their quest for his scalp is indicative not of the depth of the target’s depravity, but rather an indication of a system of justice gone mad, posing an outsized threat to the civil liberties and due process of law rights of all citizens.

    Recently retired Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, in his foreword to Three Felonies a Day, tells the story of the tyranny exercised under the guise of law enforcement in the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and ’80s:

    Every Soviet citizen committed at least three felonies a day, because the criminal statutes were written so broadly as to cover ordinary day-to-day activities. The Communist Party decided whom to prosecute from among the millions of possible criminals. They picked dissidents, refuseniks, and others who posed political dangers to the system. This began under Stalin when his KGB head, Lavrenti Beria, infamously said, “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”


    With respect to federal criminal statutes and regulations arguably relating to state political conduct, the situation is much the same. Virtually every state political figure is vulnerable. And from the mass of “possible criminals,” the feds often target those with sufficiently high profiles so that bringing down the large game will enhance the reputations, career prospects, and egos of the hunters. Fumo was “the man,” and the feds were relentless in finding “the crime.” Cipriano dramatically demonstrates how, step by step, the FBI agents and the prosecutors closed in on their prey and built a case that convinced a jury to find Fumo guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of all 137 counts lodged against him.

    When prosecutors early in the investigation were unable to piece together the small details of Fumo’s political and personal life in order to produce an indictable offense, a new team got on the case and wasable to weave a tapestry that made it appear that the senator was a one-man crime wave of corrupt politics.

    As Cipriano put it: “The feds hadn’t caught Fumo taking any bribes or extorting money. But in the [new] prosecutors’ view, technically the senator was guilty of committing fraud every time a Senate employee or contractor did him a personal or political favor, say pick up his shirts from the cleaners, fix a home computer, or schedule a doctor’s appointment on his behalf.” 

    The picture ultimately produced by the feds, who also had the advantage of being able to threaten witnesses with indictment unless their stories supported the prosecutors’ theories, managed to criminalize, in Cipriano’s words, “behavior formerly known as politics as usual.”

    Cipriano’s dramatic telling of the story of the rapid rise, but even steeper and more dramatic fall, of one of the most idiosyncratic but powerful state political figures in recent memory would doubtless make, as the Hollywood folks would tout it, a major motion picture. 

    Sadly, however, the story also belongs in the annals of the corruption of the federal criminal justice system. It is a story whose official version would have been purveyed without dissent by the gullible and sensationalistic Philadelphia news media, if not for the intervention of Cipriano, who has interjected truth as a weapon against raw governmental abuse of power and news media gullibility. Cipriano deserves our thanks for peeling back the curtain on the epicdestruction of Fumo and revealing how it was done. Our job now is to read this important book with care and then to engage, as activist citizens, in an effort to reform the system.

                                                                            Harvey A. Silverglate

                                                                            Cambridge, Massachusetts

                                                                            August, 2017


    Harvey A. Silverglate is a criminal defense and civil liberties lawyer, author and columnist, as well as the founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education [FIRE]. As it states on his website, he's been "taking unpopular stances since 1967."

    His 2009 book, Three Felonies A Day; How the Feds Target the Innocent, is a real eye-opener that crystalized many of the prevalent themes expressed on this blog.



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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    If they made a movie out of Big Trial's top stories from 2017, it would be called Trading Places, starring former District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams and convicted child rapist Bernard Shero.

    Shero, falsely accused of rape by a lying scheming altar boy, got out of jail nearly a dozen years early, thanks to the dogged reporting of this blog, and the revelatory testimony of retired Detective Joe Walsh.

    Williams, the corrupt D.A. who cooked up the fraudulent "Billy Doe" prosecution that sent former Catholic schoolteacher Shero to jail, along with three falsely accused Catholic priests, wound up in prison for political corruption, thanks to the work of the U.S. Attorney's Office from Jersey, which prosecuted the case.

    If it wasn't legal justice, it certainly was poetic justice -- Shero, finally a free man, and Rufus, in a jump suit, finally where he belongs, behind bars.

    Williams is currently doing a five year stretch in a federal prison in Oklahoma because the U.S.
    Attorney nailed him for taking bribes from, as the judge who sentenced him put it, the "parasites you chose to surround yourself with."

    Big Trial's Man Of The Year
    But readers of Big Trial knew that our corrupt D.A.'s most serious crimes were committed against poor blind Lady Justice, and the people he was sworn to protect. On this blog last year, we chronicled how the D.A. let 1,000 drug dealers out of jail, bought 300 of those newly freed drug dealers a lottery ticket, refused to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence, and let a bank robber out of jail that the cops had caught red-handed inside the bank, where they had pictures and video of him trying to crack a safe.

    Along the way, we broke the story about how our illustrious cigar-smoking former big shot of a D.A. got himself kicked out the Union League, and how eight years ago in Election Court, he got nailed for misusing his mother's credit cards.  We capped off our all-Rufus coverage by describing a  face-to-face meeting with the man himself inside the men's room at the federal courthouse, where he was on trial for corruption.

    Here at Big Trial, we sure are sorry about not having Rufus to kick around any more in the New Year. But we do look forward to chronicling the exploits of our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, as he sets out to not only reform the D.A.'s office, which could use a fumigating after Rufus, but also the entire criminal justice system in our city.

    Memo to Larry and his new spokesman, Ben Waxman: Your predecessor stonewalled this blog for six years, and it didn't turn out so well for him. You may want to consider a new media strategy.

    Last year, when we weren't writing about Rufus, we began covering the so-called sex abuse scandal at Penn State. What a freaking travesty that case is. Attention Penn State Nation: We are about to get into this subject big-time as I've been working on a long story to be published soon in Newsweek, which just published a cover story about retired Detective Walsh.

    Stay tuned for further developments. And to all our readers, a belated Happy New Year.


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    Jeff Lindy: The Left-Wing D.A.'s New Right Hand Man
    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    After new District Attorney Larry Krasner got through cleaning house yesterday by firing 30 assistant district attorneys, there's nobody left to prosecute Msgr. William J. Lynn.

    One of the ADAs whacked by Krasner was Patrick Blessington, the lead prosecutor on the Lynn case. Blessington was also the guy who attacked retired Detective Joe Walsh as a "rogue" cop, saying he wasn't authorized to interview more than 30 witnesses in the Billy Doe case.

     Blessington had nonsensically claimed that Walsh had done the interviews on his own. That, of course, prompted laughs from Judge Ellen Ceisler. In the Philadelphia archdiocese sex abuse prosecutions, Walsh was the key witness who came forward to say that he believed Billy Doe was a liar, and that Doe, whose real name is Danny Gallagher, had admitted to Walsh that he just "made up stuff." The retired detective's testimony has already forced the D.A. to let Bernard Shero, a former Catholic schoolteacher convicted of raping Gallagher, out of jail nearly a dozen years early.

    Walsh was going to be the defense's star witness if the D.A. proceeded with its announced plans to retry Msgr. Lynn on one count of endangering the welfare of children. But now it looks as though that retrial may never happen, because of some other moves Krasner made.

    Also gone from the D.A.'s office are a couple of senior lawyers, Ronald Eisenberg and Hugh J. Burns Jr. Eisenberg was the longtime deputy D.A. in charge of the D.A.'s law division, which kept deciding to appeal the Lynn case, after the monsignor's conviction was twice overturned by the state Superior Court. Burns was the longtime chief of the appeals unit who kept arguing that the monsignor was a danger to society and belonged in jail.

    Eisenberg is said to have already departed for the state attorney general's office; Burns was one of the ADAs fired by Krasner yesterday.

    But Krasner made another recent personnel move that may have something to do with whether the D.A. decides to retry Lynn. Krasner hired Jeffrey M. Lindy to be his top deputy. Lindy, a criminal defense lawyer who's a former deputy D.A. in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a former assistant U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia, was one of four lawyers who defended Msgr. Lynn in his original 2012 trial where he was convicted on one count of child endangerment.

    Lindy, of course, would have an ethical conflict in having anything to do with the retrial of his former client. But maybe he can venture an opinion to his new boss that the Billy Doe case was bogus from day one, a manufactured prosecution starring a fraudulent victim. And that continuing to beat this dead horse would be a waste of time.

    Lynn has already served 33 months of his 36 month sentence, plus 18 months of house arrest, so it makes little sense for the D.A. to retry the case as the defendant has already done almost all of his time.

    The former D.A. who announced that his office would appeal the Lynn case is now wearing a jumpsuit and sitting in a federal prison in Oklahoma, where he's doing a five-year stretch after pleading guilty to taking bribes.

    With Rufus Seth Williams in jail, Pat Blessington looking for work, and Hugh Burns and Ron Eisenberg gone from the D.A.'s office, it's a perfect time for Progressive Larry Krasner to declare victory in the Lynn case and move on.


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    Back In Action
    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    On Friday, when the Philly D.A.'s office was closed due to frigid weather, assistant district attorneys were getting calls on their cell phones, telling them to come right down to the office.

    Inside, people were lined up, waiting to be fired.

    The first list of the newly fired people that went up had 28 names on it. The man on the right, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, was No. 25 on that list.

    But by the end of the day, a new list of 31 names went up. And Blessington's name was nowhere to be found. Rumor had it that some last-minute lobbying had saved the job of the lead prosecutor in the case of Msgr. William J. Lynn.

    Blessington, who had been targeted in the "Porngate" scandal -- unfairly, truth be told, because he supposedly never opened any of the pornographic emails sent to his cue -- had been spared in the purge by Krasner.

    "District Attorney Lawrence S. Krasner requests the resignations of the following," the memo from the new chief of staff said, "with the understanding that they are not to return."

    Three of the names on the list were circled, highlighting the ADAs with gun permits.

    So if Krasner chooses to retry the Lynn case, he still has Blessington around to prosecute. But Deputy District Attorney Ronald Eisenberg, the head of the D.A.'s law division, resigned before the purge to take a new job with the state attorney general's office. And Hugh J. Burns Jr., chief of the D.A.'s appeal unit, was No. 2  on the second list of people fired.

    So the two men who worked on the appeals that kept the Lynn case going, when the monsignor's conviction was twice overturned, are gone.

    Here's the first lis that went up:

    1. Derek Riker
    2. Mike Barry
    3. Andrew Notar
    4. Stacy Hughes
    5. Laurie Moore
    6. Tom Lipscomb
    7. Gwen Cudjik
    8. Carlos Vega
    9. John Delaney
    10 Jan McDermott
    11. Jen Hoffman
    12. Jim Carpenter
    13. Nicole Pedicinio
    14. Brian Zarallo
    15. Yvonne Ruiz
    16. Michelle Seidner
    17. Melissa Francis
    18. Mark Gilson
    19. Joe Whitehead
    20. Tami Levin
    21. Caroline Keating
    22. Lauren Realberg
    23. Namratha Ravikant
    24. Jason Kleinman
    25. Pat Blessington
    26. Mark Constanzo
    27. Greg Rowe
    28. ADA Cavanaugh [First name missing]

    Here's the second list:

    1. Michael Barry
    2. Hugh Burns
    3. James Carpenter
    4. Thomas Carter Sr.
    5. E. Mark Constanzo
    6. Gwen Cudjik
    7. John Delaney
    8. Monique Wescott
    9. Melissa Francis
    10. Elizabeth Graham-Rubin
    11. Mark Gilson
    12. Robin Godfrey
    13. Jennifer Hoffman
    14. Stacey Hughes
    15.Salena Jones
    16. Jason Kleinman
    17. Bridget Kirn
    18. Tami Levin
    19. Laquan Lightfoot
    20. Thomas Lipscomb
    21. Carl Mahler
    22 Carolyn McGlynn-Keating
    23. Laurie Moore
    24. Andrew Notaristefano
    25. Nicole Pedecino
    26. Namratha Ravikant
    27. Lauren Realberg
    28. Derek Riker
    29. Greg Rowe
    30. Yvonne Ruiz
    31. Michelle Seidner
    32. Joseph Whitehead

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    A Philadelphia schoolteacher who yelled and cursed out police officers during a protest last August over the Frank Rizzo statue will not have to face any legal consequences for his actions.

    Police have been informed by the D.A.'s office that Progressive Larry Krasner, our new D.A. bought and paid for with more than $1 million of George Soros's money, has dropped the charges against John Sheerin, who had been arrested and charged with harassment and making terroristic threats.

    Police said that Sheerin, 63, a teacher at Julia De Burgos Elementary School in North Philadelphia,  got into an argument with the cops and cursed them out. It happened at a rally where protesters were chanting "Tear it down." Sheerin, standing at a police barricade in front of the statue, was recorded on a cell phone video yelling obscenities at white "racist" cops.

    He was suspended by the school district, pending an internal investigation. But now that Krasner let him off, he can return to his job and teach our kids how to curse out cops and get away with it, all in the name of social justice.



    The decision by Krasner not to prosecute Sheerin comes eight days after the D.A.'s office announced it would not prosecute Diop Olugbala, a black Communist activist, who was caught on camera by Fox 29 last year spray-painting the Rizzo statue.

    Now that Krasner is in charge of law enforcement in our city, public vandalism is no longer a crime, at least when it comes to attacking the Rizzo statue posted at Thomas Paine Plaza.

    Olugbala, as reported by philadelinquency.com, was represented by Michael Coard, a civil rights lawyer who was a member of Crasher's transition team.

    On a facebook post, Olugbala announced the dropping of the desecration charge against him.

    "My upcoming Jan. 10 trial will be continued based on a number of factors, which gives me the opportunity to mobilize further support for critical struggles to free black political prisoners --- including the cases of #st.pete3, rakem halogen, Takiyah Thomson, Mumia Abu Jamal and the 2 million black men and women held captive in u.s. prisons."

    It's a great day for protesters; for the cops, not so much.

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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    Well, it didn't take long for our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, to screw up big-time.

    In a 24-page brief filed Tuesday in state Superior Court, Krasner, who's in his first month on the job, has decided to go forward with an appeal in the case of Msgr. William J. Lynn. He's the former secretary of clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia whose 2012 conviction on one count of endangering the welfare of a child has twice been overturned by the state Superior Court.

    In the brief, which is filled with all sorts of official dishonesty in what is already a travesty of a case, the new D.A. pretends that a trial judge last year didn't find the D.A.'s office under Krasner's predecessor, Rufus Seth Williams, guilty of prosecutorial misconduct. When the judge clearly did, and stated so in open court.

    The D.A. also attempts to pave over the main issue in the case, mainly that one of the prosecutors, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, had no qualms about putting a witness on the stand, Danny Gallagher AKA Billy Doe, the lying scheming altar boy, that she knew was a liar. Even though she had been repeatedly informed by Detective Joseph Walsh, the lead detective in the case, that all the evidence Walsh had gathered contradicted the fables Gallagher was telling.

    In a 12-page affidavit, Walsh went even further, saying that when he had repeatedly questioned Gallagher, the lying, scheming altar boy flat-out admitted that he had just "made up stuff," when he told the prosecutors crazy, violent stories of abuse. In those stories, Gallagher claimed he was: violently anally raped for five hours behind the locked doors of the sacristy,  beaten and knocked unconscious by a priest, stripped naked and tied up with altar sashes by another priest, and strangled with a seatbelt by a schoolteacher, all of which he subsequently retracted when he made up a new story of abuse.

    In the brief filed by Lawrence J. Goode, Nancy Winkelman, Carolyn Engel Temin, and Krasner, the D.A.'s office contended that Gallagher, a brazen liar, was telling the truth when he was repeatedly questioned by Walsh during a prep session before the 2012 trial of Msgr. Lynn.

    During the prep session, Walsh questioned Gallagher about nine factual discrepancies in his various stories of abuse. In a civil deposition, Walsh stated that Gallagher responded by either claiming he was high on drugs, putting his head down and saying nothing, or telling a new story.

    None of this was reported to defense lawyers in the case, and Judge Gwendolyn Bright ruled that it was prosecutorial misconduct serious enough to warrant a new trial for Lynn. But since the state Superior Court had already granted Lynn a new trial, the judge didn't take any further action.

    "This is not Brady material," the D.A. declared in their brief, contradicting Judge Bright's finding, regarding the landmark 1963 case where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors had to turn over to defendants any material that might be beneficial to their case.

    As far as the new D.A. is concerned, Gallagher saying he was "high on drugs" was "consistent with his trial testimony that he heavily used drugs as a result of being sexually molested," the D.A.'s office wrote.

    The D.A. also claims that Walsh's testimony about the comments of former Assistant District Attorney Sorensen -- "You're killing my case" -- has "no basis in fact."

    Walsh had claimed in court that when he repeatedly told Sorensen about Gallagher's amazing lack of credibility, her response was -- drum roll please -- "You're killing my case."

    When Walsh stated this in open court, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington claimed it wasn't true. Lynn's lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, then told Judge Bright that the only way to solve this controversy was to put both Walsh and Sorensen on the stand at a subsequent hearing, to find out which one was telling the truth.

    But when the day for that hearing came around, the D.A.'s office under Rufus Seth Williams, now wearing a jumpsuit in a federal prison in Oklahoma, decided not to put Sorensen on the witness stand.  So they forever lost their right to contest that what Walsh said Sorensen said wasn't true.

    Nevertheless, the D.A.'s office under Krasner wrote that "the claim is factually false" that Sorensen ever said, "You're killing my case." The D.A.'s brief also disingenuously states that Judge Bright decided that Walsh's claim was "not supported by the evidence," when the decision Judge Bright came to was that the level of misconduct alleged by Walsh with "You're killing my case" did not rise to the level where the judge would blow out the retrial of Lynn, on grounds of double jeopardy.

    In their brief, the D.A.'s office asserts that Msgr. Lynn "did not prove" that Gallagher lied, the judge didn't rule that he lied, and "there is no evidence that the lied."

    In their brief, the D.A.'s office also attempts to take on Walsh's contention that Danny Gallagher the bald-faced liar was lying when he said that as a fifth-grader, he was a member of the maintenance crew that helped set up tables and bells for the church's bell choir.

    Gallagher had claimed then when he was putting away the tables and bells, he was accosted by Father Edward Avery, who subsequently raped the altar boy.

    In court testimony, three teachers, including the longtime choir director at St. Jerome's, the alleged scene of the rape spree, testified that only eighth-graders were big and strong enough to lift the heavy bells and tables used by the bell choir, which each weighed more than 30 pounds. [As a fifth-grader, Gallagher only weighed 63 pounds, his medical records showed.] The teachers also testified that the bell crew went home after they set up the tables and bells, and that it was the members of the bell choir who put away the bells and tables after the concerts were over.

    In their brief, the D.A.'s office asserts, however, that none of the teachers "actually denied" that Gallagher was a member of the bell choir maintenance crew as a fifth-grader. The D.A.'s office also asserts that Walsh "never established as a fact that the bell crew activity involved only eighth grade boys."

    Sorry, Progressive Larry, but you are playing word games in a case where Danny Gallagher has been revealed in his civil depositions, criminal trial testimony, and medical records to be a complete liar.

    It's unbelievable, but this travesty of a case may have a second act if Msgr. Lynn is actually retried later this year.

    Lynn has already served 33 months of his minimum 36-month sentence, plus 18 months of house arrest. So that even if the D.A. wins a retrial, Lynn would only have to serve an extra three months.

    So our D.A., who just let a guy who cursed out the cops off the hook, along with a guy who was caught on camera defacing the Frank Rizzo statue, has decided to defend the honor of a lying, scheming altar boy who also stole $5 million from the Catholic Church.

    Hey Progressive Larry, if there is a retrial, I'm betting that Danny Gallagher isn't going to fly up from Florida and run the risk of a perjury rap by testifying in a Philadelphia courtroom. All for the sake of another show trial, especially after Danny Boy has already hit the lottery, to the tune of $5 million.

    But as far as our new Progressive D.A. is concerned, the show must go on. Even if everyone has to know by now that it's thoroughly corrupt.


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    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    Last week, I took a virtual tour of the new merged Inquirer-Daily News-philly.com newsroom, thanks to a brand new feature on their website accessible to even hardcore non-subscribers like myself.

    It's been 20 years since my last day at the Inquirer, when I was escorted out of the building by an editor. So, I figured I was due for a return visit. But I emerged from my virtual tour feeling like Frank Pentangeli.

    Remember the scene in Godfather II where crusty old Frank [AKA "Frankie Five Angels" and "Frankie Pants"] attends the first communion of the late Don Corleone's grandson. It's a big fancy party on the shores of Lake Tahoe, Nevada back in 1958; quite a contrast with the old-fashioned Sicilian wedding scene set on Long Island back in 1945 that opened the original Godfather.

    "Hey Fredo," Frank says, "What's with the food around here?"

    "A kid comes up to me in a white jacket, gives me a Ritz cracker, and uh, chopped liver, he says canapés  I say uh, uh, can o' peas my ass, that's a Ritz cracker and chopped liver! . . . Bring out the peppers and sausage."

    Then, Frank jumps on stage to take issue with the slow music that the boys in the orchestra are playing.

    "I can't believe, out of 30 professional musicians, there isn't one Italian in, in the group here," Frank says. "Come, let's have a tarantella."

    That's how I felt after I toured the new merged Inky newsroom.

    On "The Newsroom" page at the bottom of the philly.com website, they show the same old reporter's notebook that I used to carry in my back pocket back when I was an Inky reporter for more than a decade. Then, they introduce you to more than 100 reporters who explain their new beats at the new merged Inky.

    There's some old familiar faces in the crowd, people I used to work with, but the new Inky newsroom represents a whole new world order bent on launching a radical social revolution right here in the birthplace of democracy.

    "We've recently reorganized our beats and coverage teams to ensure that we focused on the issues, ideas and institutions that matter most to people of our region," it says. "Here's what we're covering and how to reach us."

    On the Inquirer's new "justice and injustice" team, they've got a reporter who covers "unjust systems." He'll never run out of material in this town. They've got a reporter who writes about "violent crimes," and another reporter who writes about "victims."

    So, theoretically in any crime story, say, one that involves a purse-snatching, it may take two reporters to write it. One to report on the violent nature of the crime, and another to write about the story from the victim's point of view.

    But let's say the assailant comes from a disadvantaged background, and may have been discriminated against in the past. Or he or she is possibly an immigrant, or somebody who may be a minority person living in a neighborhood simmering with ethnic, racial and cultural tensions. Or the purse-snatcher is someone who perceives that they live in an unjust society.

    Fortunately, in the new Inky newsroom, there's a vast array of specialists to draw on who can flesh out the cultural, racial and societal aspects of that purse-snatching.

    On the "identity and values" team they've got a reporter who writes about "social justice" exploring how "race, gender, sexuality and class shape our lives in uneven ways." Another reporter on the team writes about "social justice, criminal justice and the lives of Philadelphians, from the streets, the prisons and the bars." A third reporter writes about "race, gender, identity and values."

    Hey Fredo, does anybody still cover the freaking City Council? How about the cops and the courts? What about the friggin' Zoning Board of Appeals?


    From the description of it, the new Inky newsroom is a relentless PC parade that meets every day down at the Rizzo statue, to plot Big Frank's demise. But we're not done yet.

    In the new Inky newsroom, they have a "class" reporter who writes about "aspects of poverty, wealth, and the middle class relating to both economic and social issues." There's a reporter who covers immigration, and another reporter who covers "neighborhoods and gentrification," specifically "characters, tensions and issues." And on the "policy and solutions" team, there's a  reporter who writes about "fairness," particularly "economic equity issues, including school funding, and affordable housing." And a full-time reporter who covers "the commerce of cannabis."

    In the new world order of the Inky, they've got four metro columnists. It's a perfectly diverse team, featuring a couple of white guys and a couple women of color. Of course, all the columnists, local, suburban and national, are liberals who hate Donald Trump. Of the more than 100 reporters working in the new Inky newsroom, if there's a conservative in the bunch, or a contrarian, you'd never know it by reading the paper.

    The closest they come is whenever Stu Bykofsky decides it's time to rip our sad sack of a mayor again.

    I knew I'd hit rock bottom in my tour of this new fancy pants newsroom when I saw that the obituary writer, a job I once had, is now an "obituary storyteller." She writes about dead "movers and shakers" who presumably aren't doing much moving and shaking anymore.

    Hey Fredo, with all those PC warriors running around town with all the same preconceived notions in their heads, it's no wonder the paper is so freaking boring and predictable all the time.

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    New D.A. Larry Krasner Scopes Out His Options In The Lynn Case
    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    Lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn have accused the district attorney's office of dishonesty and cowardice, for attempting to escape the consequences of knowingly putting a lying witness on the stand.

    The lying witness, of course, is "Billy Doe," AKA Danny Gallagher, the lying, scheming altar boy.

    In a testy five-page reply brief filed yesterday in state Superior Court, Lynn's lawyers took issue with the D.A.'s contention that there was no so-called Brady violation that resulted from the testimony last year in Common Pleas Court of retired Detective Joe Walsh, who came forward to expose Gallagher for the fraud he is.

    Walsh testified that when he prepped Gallagher for trial in 2012, the detective quizzed the former altar boy about the numerous factual discrepancies in his many imaginative and vastly differing tales of abuse. According to Walsh, Gallagher responded by claiming he was high on drugs, hanging his head and saying nothing, or telling some new stories.

    None of Gallagher's evasive activities were reported to Lynn's lawyers, as required by Brady v. Maryland, the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case that held that prosecutors must turn over any evidence that might be beneficial to a defendant.

    About the D.A.'s contention that there was no Brady violation, Lynn's lawyers wrote, "This is indeed an awkward -- if not dishonest -- position, since the trial court specifically found that there was a Brady violation."

    The D.A.'s office under Progressive Larry Krasner "totally misses the point of this appeal," wrote attorneys Thomas A. Bergstrom, H. Marc Tepper and David A. Schumacher. "It's counsel has either not read the record below or ignored it."

    The main issue in the case, Lynn's lawyers wrote, is whether the D.A.'s office under Rufus Seth Williams "put a witness on the stand it knew, or should have known, would lie."

    The D.A.'s office, now under Progressive Larry, "cannot stick its head in the sand and run from the reality that it's chief and highly-distinguished detective informed [Assistant District Attorney Mariana] Sorensen that its only witness against [Lynn] was not being truthful," the defense lawyers wrote.

    "Any reasonable and honest prosecutor would immediately know the impact of Walsh's statement," Lynn's lawyers wrote, which is why, according to Walsh, Sorensen responded,  "You're killing my case."

    "Faced with Detective Walsh's damning and un-rebutted testimony, [the D.A.] instead retreats to the notion that Walsh is not credible and perhaps a perjurer, a cowardly position at best," Lynn's lawyers wrote. The DA "concealed this exchange" between Walsh and Gallagher "and put a witness on the stand whom it knew intended to lie, and should be held accountable for that misconduct."

    The D.A. takes "the bold position" that Judge Bright found Sorensen's response of "You're killing my case" was not supported by the evidence," Lynn's lawyers wrote. "That is not at all what Judge Bright found." The judge found that the "evidence did not support a double jeopardy claim," but that the claim itself was "not frivolous," the lawyers wrote.

    Judge Bright "absolutely did not find that Detective Walsh's unchallenged version of events did not happen as [the D.A.] now incorrectly implies," the lawyers wrote. "ADA Sorensen failed [perhaps refused] to testify at the hearing below on this issue and [the new D.A.] and this Court must accept the unchallenged testimony of Detective Walsh that she said, 'You're killing may case."

    Lynn was convicted in a 2012 trial of one count of endangering the welfare of a child. He was sentenced to 3 to 6 years in jail and served 33 out of 36 months of his minimum sentence. His case, however, was overturned twice on appeal by the same Superior Court that now sits in judgment on this third go-around.

    In the latest appeal, the D.A.'s office is contesting Judge Bright's decision to admit as evidence only three supplemental cases of sex abuse, to show a pattern of cover ups in the archdiocese. The D.A. wants nine supplemental cases of sex abuse admitted as evidence.

    In response, Lynn's lawyers are trying to get the retrial tossed on grounds of double jeopardy, because of prosecutorial misconduct in the case.

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    From Target: The Senator;
    A Story About Power And Abuse of Power

    By Ralph Cipriano
    for BigTrial.net

    Motorcycle cops in South Miami were stopping traffic at every intersection, to let a long black limousine go by without having to brake for any red lights.


    Inside the limo, Leonard Tose, the flamboyant big spender who owned the Philadelphia Eagles, was on the way to his super box at the Orange Bowl.


    On the afternoon of November 11, 1984, the Eagles were playing the Miami Dolphins. And riding in the back of the limo along with Tose and his daughter, Susan Fletcher, were their VIP guests: Pennsylvania Senator Vincent J. Fumo and his fifteen-year-old son, Vincent E. Fumo II.


    The Eagles owner had invited the senator to the game because he wanted to get something off his chest. Up in the super box, Tose told Fumo about his recent negotiations with the City of Philadelphia. The Eagles owner wanted to build luxury skyboxes atop aging Veterans Stadium, to bring in new revenues. But Philadelphia officials had blown him off, and Tose wasn't happy about it.




    Down on the field, Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski threw a thirty-eight-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to bring the Eagles within one point of the Dolphins. But Eagles placekicker Paul McFadden missed the extra point and the Eagles lost a heartbreaker, 24-23.

    Up in the owner’s super box, however, the Eagles were faring much better. Fumo told Tose he would approach Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode about building those skyboxes atop the Vet, an ugly multipurpose stadium that looked like a concrete doughnut with an artificial green center.


    Tose was not only angry, but deeply in debt. In the media, there had been plenty of speculation that the Eagles owner was so desperate he might be shopping for a better stadium deal elsewhere. But just the week before, Tose had denied rumors that he was moving the team to Phoenix.


    “The Eagles aren’t going anywhere,” Tose told reporters on November 3, 1984. “In the first place, I’m not going to sell the club. In the second place, even if I ever did, the only way they’d get them out of Philadelphia is over my dead body.”


    Nobody could prove it at the time, but Tose was lying.



                                            *                          *                        *


    Fumo had stumbled into the Eagles situation by accident. He was in Miami on vacation in November, 1984, after just being reelected to a second full term in the Senate. On the Saturday before the Eagles-Dolphins game, Fumo was taking his son and some friends out to dinner when he bumped into Fletcher.

    Fletcher, the Eagles general manager, was a lawyer who had previously worked at the same Philadelphia law firm as Fumo. Fumo had just recently gotten divorced. So Fletcher invited the new bachelor and his son to be her guests the next day at the Orange Bowl.


    Fumo declined, saying he had reservations on Sunday to fly back to Philadelphia. But Tose called Sunday morning with an offer that Fumo couldn’t refuse. Forget those plane reservations, Tose said. Come watch the game from my super box, and you can fly home on the team plane with me.


    Vincent E. Fumo II vividly remembered being a star-struck kid watching these “enormous guys playing poker” on the team plane. “That was awesome,” he recalled more than thirty years later.


    When the senator got back from Florida after watching the game against the Dolphins, he didn’t have to call the mayor. Goode called Fumo in a panic over the possible departure of the Eagles.


    I gotta see you right away, Goode said. The mayor had already tried to call Tose several times, but Tose wasn’t returning his calls.*


    [Footnote: “I wasn’t on Leonard Tose’s invite list,” the seventy-seven-year-old former mayor explained in a 2015 interview. Goode said he reached out to Fumo because he knew the senator was dating Tose’s daughter.]


    When Fumo met Goode at the Bellevue Hotel later that afternoon, he told the mayor that the situation with the Eagles was salvageable. Look, Fumo said, Tose is willing to talk to you but he’s pissed.


    Goode, Philadelphia’s first black mayor, was in a tough spot because Philadelphia’s football fans were a crazy lot. If the team left town, people would be jumping off the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. But Fumo wasn’t one of the crazies.


    “It still didn’t make much difference to me,” Fumo said. “I didn’t care if they [the Eagles] were in Philadelphia or not. They never paid my bills.”


    Fumo, Goode, and Fumo aide Jim Kenney attended an emergency meeting held at Tose’s Villanova estate, which featured a swimming pool, seven bedrooms, and a helicopter pad.


    “We all sat in Leonard’s den,” Fumo recalled. Goode told Leonard he didn’t understand why he was upset. We were always willing to work things out with you, Fumo heard the mayor say.

    As far as Fumo was concerned, the look on Tose’s face showed that the Eagles owner wasn’t buying it.


    “I thought Leonard was going to choke on his cigarette,” Fumo said.


    At the meeting in Tose’s living room, the mayor told Tose he had investors lined up that would match any offer he had received from Phoenix. The mayor made it plain that he didn’t want the Eagles to leave town.


                                     *                          *                        *


    On December 2, 1984, the Eagles were playing the Dallas Cowboys at the Vet. Tose invited Fumo as his guest again to watch the game from the owner’s skybox. It was Fumo’s idea to bring along Mayor Goode.


    The game got off to a bad start for the home team. Jaworski had a streak of 116 straight starts until the previous week, when he broke his leg playing against St. Louis. Jaworski’s replacement, backup quarterback Joe Pisarcik, promptly threw an interception to Dallas Cowboys defensive back Dennis Thurman, who returned it thirty-eight yards for a touchdown.


    The Eagles were on their way to another loss in a season when they would finish dead last in the NFC East, at 6-9-1. The only thing worse than a last-place football team, however, was no football team at all. And to make matters worse, the specter of a longtime NFL franchise deserting its hometown had just played out months earlier just 100 miles south of Philadelphia.


    In the early morning hours of March 28, 1984, Bob Irsay, owner of the Baltimore Colts, had hired a convoy of fifteen Mayflower vans to move his team in the middle of a snowstorm to Indianapolis. There was no prior warning, no public announcement. Baltimore fans woke up to discover that their beloved Colts were gone forever.



    In Philadelphia, Eagle fans were worried about a convoy of moving vans showing up at the Vet.


    At the negotiating table where the mayor was trying to keep the Eagles in the city, the principals didn’t have much in common. Goode was a polite and sober Baptist who would subsequently become a minister. Tose was a chain-smoking compulsive gambler, heavy drinker, and womanizer who partied like every day was his last.


    At Fumo’s suggestion, Susan Fletcher brought up the skyboxes.


    Oh yes, the skyboxes, Mayor Goode said. He asked where they were going to go.


    Tose pointed out where he wanted the skyboxes built, right on top of the Vet. If that’s what you want, Fumo heard the mayor tell Tose, we can make it happen.


    Down on the Astroturf, the Cowboys’ Ron Springs hauled in a fifty-seven-yard touchdown bomb from quarterback Danny White. Then, the Cowboys tackled Pisarcik in the end zone for a safety.


    The Cowboys were up 16-3, on their way to a 26-10 rout.


                                    *                          *                        *


    After the game, Fumo noticed something strange. Even though the Eagles were a losing team possibly on their way out of town, Eagles fans cheered Fumo wherever he went.


    “Yeah, Senator, save the Eagles,” the fans in kelly green yelled.


     “I was shocked at the enthusiasm and intensity of the people,” Fumo recalled.


    Then, a reporter in Phoenix broke a big story. Tose had a handshake deal in place to move the Eagles to Phoenix. He’d been lying about it all along.


    Tose was getting $50 seat licenses in Phoenix, something unheard of at the time, plus parking concessions. It was a sweetheart deal that couldn’t be matched. The City of Philadelphia officially went into a panic.


    Once again, Fumo stepped in as a mediator. Once again, Goode couldn’t get Tose on the phone, but Fumo could. When he did, Tose told Fumo he didn’t want to deal with Goode any more. He didn’t think the mayor could deliver.


    But the deal to move the Eagles to Phoenix wasn’t final yet. So the Eagles’ owner told Fumo exactly what he would need to keep the team in Philadelphia. Armed with Tose’s wish list, Fumo began negotiating with Goode on behalf of the Eagles’ owner, and every frenzied football fan in town.


    With a crisis on his hands, Fumo called Goode every hour to find out what progress had been made. Then Fumo would call Tose, to give him an update. When Fumo couldn’t get Goode on the phone, he’d bullshit Tose.


    “He’s working on it,” Fumo would say about Goode. “He just has to put together a few people.”


    “I was doing Henry Kissinger-style shuttle diplomacy,” Fumo recalled. It wasn’t easy. Tose and his daughter seemed indifferent to Mayor Goode’s pleas to stay.


    “They didn’t care,” Fumo said. “They were leaving.”


    On the other side of the table, Goode was so desperate to avoid becoming the mayor who lost the Eagles to Phoenix that he was ready to agree to just about anything, Fumo said.


     “What, are you nuts?” Fumo said he wound up telling the mayor. “He was ready to give away the kitchen sink.”


    After one long negotiating session at the city’s Municipal Services Building was over, Fletcher asked Fumo to give her a ride back to her car at the Vet. But a media horde was waiting outside.


    “I can’t do that,” Fumo said.


    He was thinking of his role as a mediator in the negotiations to keep the Eagles in Philadelphia. And how it would all go up in smoke if the next day’s papers ran photos of Fumo the bachelor chauffeuring Fletcher around town in his white Cadillac El Dorado convertible.


    Fletcher didn’t take it well.


    “She got all pissed off at me,” Fumo recalled. “That was the end of our dating.”*


    [Footnote: Fletcher, now a radio talk show host, did not respond to email requests for comment.]


                                      *                          *                        *


    At 7:00 p.m. on a Saturday, after a week of marathon negotiations, Goode called Fumo to tell him there would be a press conference that night, just in time for the Sunday papers. Goode wanted Fumo at his side for a big announcement.


    When Fumo saw Goode, he was elated.


    “Wilson, he was like jiving, pretending he had a boom box next to his ear,” Fumo recalled. Fumo said he had never seen the usually dignified mayor act that way.*


    [Footnote: “Of course I don’t remember that,” Goode said with a smile, when asked about the incident. “I will never admit that I did it.”]


    The press conference on December 15, 1984, was attended by more than one hundred reporters and photographers.


    “I am very pleased tonight because the Eagles are going to stay in Philadelphia where they belong,” Goode announced. The mayor said he was relieved he was that the crisis was over.


    Then, the mayor outlined the terms of the deal that kept the Eagles in Philadelphia.


    The city agreed to $10 million in stadium improvements that included building fifty skyboxes at the top of Veterans Stadium. The city also agreed to defer the Eagles’ stadium rent — more than $800,000 a year — for up to ten years.  In exchange, the team agreed to extend its lease with the city by ten years, until 2011.


    A grateful mayor told reporters he couldn’t have done it without Fumo.


    “What Vince did in the beginning, he was able to talk to Tose at a time when I think Tose was pretty much convinced that he wanted to leave town,” Goode told Chris Hepp of the Inquirer.


     “I think Vince kind of broke the ice in the beginning and got Tose and I talking,” Goode told Hepp. “So in the very beginning, I think that he [Fumo] played a major role in kind of breaking the logjam in communications.”


    Tose, however, did not publicly mention Fumo at the press conference, or thank the senator for his efforts. When they parted, Fumo said, Fletcher wasn’t too friendly either.


                              *                          *                        *


    Years later, when Tose needed a favor, he asked Fumo to meet him for lunch at the Old Original Bookbinder’s.


    By that time, the free-spending, still-partying Tose had been forced to sell the Eagles. He had burned through five marriages and been evicted from his Villanova mansion. He was staying in town at a place paid for by former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil, former Eagles general manager Jim Murray, and other old friends of Tose’s.


    Tose may have been down and out, but he hadn’t lost his confidence. “You know, Vince,” Tose told Fumo at lunch, “I was always there for you.”


    That ticked off Fumo.


     “Leonard, I like you, you’re a nice guy, you’re a lot of fun, but you never did dick for me,” Fumo replied. “You didn’t even mention me” at the press conference that announced the Eagles were staying in Philadelphia.


    “I didn’t?” Tose said, looking shocked.


    He quickly regrouped.


     “Did I ever get you a Super Bowl ring?” Tose asked.


    “Nope,” Fumo said.


    “What’s your ring size,” Tose demanded.

    Weeks later, Fumo received a ring commemorating the Eagles only Super Bowl appearance, where they lost to the Raiders in 1980, 27-10.


     The gold, green, and silver ring bore the team emblem, a flying Eagle clutching a football-shaped diamond in its talons. On one side of the ring it said “Fumo” and “friend.”


    Tose died broke at age eighty-eight in 2003. Fumo felt sorry for him.


    Leonard’s problem was that he “wanted to spend it all before he died,” Fumo said.


    He just lived too long.

    Target: The Senator now available at amazon.com.


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