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Articles on this Page
- 01/29/18--08:35: _Joey Merlino Rolls ...
- 02/21/18--09:37: _Mob Talk Sitdown: A...
- 02/21/18--13:48: _Billy In Philly -- ...
- 03/04/18--08:36: _Thomas Capano and t...
- 03/04/18--09:54: _Skinny Joey Vs. The...
- 03/05/18--15:47: _Prosecutor's Missin...
- 03/09/18--06:59: _A Prosecutor's 'Los...
- 03/15/18--12:34: _Progressive Larry K...
- 04/06/18--11:46: _A Prosecutor's 'Los...
- 04/10/18--13:37: _'She Knew He Was Go...
- 04/30/18--05:55: _An Offer He Couldn'...
- 05/10/18--17:30: _Progressive D.A. La...
- 05/16/18--16:47: _Reform D.A. Lets Co...
- 05/18/18--18:16: _Detective Files Civ...
- 05/22/18--07:00: _How Much Will Legal...
- 05/22/18--08:42: _Inky Reporter Scoop...
- 06/08/18--10:31: _Mayor Kenney's Song...
- 06/13/18--14:43: _A System of Justice...
- 06/14/18--17:25: _Amid Smirks And Moc...
- 06/27/18--04:36: _Bad Rufus & Billy D...
- 01/29/18--08:35: Joey Merlino Rolls the Dice
- 02/21/18--09:37: Mob Talk Sitdown: A Mistrial In The Merlino Case
- 03/04/18--08:36: Thomas Capano and the Murder of Anne Marie Fahey
- 03/04/18--09:54: Skinny Joey Vs. The Feds: Headed For A Rematch
- 03/05/18--15:47: Prosecutor's Missing Notes About "Billy Doe" Mysteriously Reappear
- 03/09/18--06:59: A Prosecutor's 'Lost' Notes And The Pack Of Lies She Wrote
- 03/15/18--12:34: Progressive Larry Krasner Legalizes Prostitution In Philadelphia
- 04/06/18--11:46: A Prosecutor's 'Lost' Notes And The Trail Of Deception Behind It
- 04/10/18--13:37: 'She Knew He Was Gonna Lie'
- 04/30/18--05:55: An Offer He Couldn't Refuse
- 05/10/18--17:30: Progressive D.A. Larry K. Loses It With Former Prosecutor
- 05/16/18--16:47: Reform D.A. Lets Convicted Killer Go Free
- 05/18/18--18:16: Detective Files Civil Rights Suit Against D.A.
- 05/22/18--07:00: How Much Will Legalized Sports Gambling Hurt The Mob?
- 05/22/18--08:42: Inky Reporter Scoops D.A.'s Detectives
- 06/08/18--10:31: Mayor Kenney's Song And Dance Routine Goes Viral
- 06/13/18--14:43: A System of Justice 'Systematically Destroyed'
- 06/14/18--17:25: Amid Smirks And Mocking, An Ethics Expert Rips Frank Fina
- 06/27/18--04:36: Bad Rufus & Billy Doe Come Back to Haunt Graham Spanier
By George Anastasia
Philadelphia's only celebrity gangster, Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, goes on trial this week in federal court in Manhattan for racketeering and conspiracy charges that could land him in jail or a good part of the rest of his life.
He's been there before.
But this time the stakes seem even higher.
The rest of the story can be read HERE.
In the latest episode of Mob Talk Sitdown, veteran crime journalists George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser have the latest on Philadelphia Mob Boss Joey Merlino.
He dodged another bullet in federal court on Tuesday when a jury failed to reach a verdict on gambling and healthcare fraud charges after a three-week trial. A mistrial was declared. So where does that leave the 55-year-old gangster?
Twenty-six years ago, I was standing in line to meet Billy Graham, who was about to launch a historic five-day crusade at the Vet.
When it was my turn to greet him, Billy grabbed my hand, held it, and thanked me for all the wonderful stories I had written about him. I wondered if he was kidding, but he seemed so sincere about it, and went out of his way to be kind.
“Why I never knew you were so young and so handsome,” Billy gushed. Ok, he may have been a bit corny, but one on one, this world-famous celebrity would much rather talk about you than himself. I was struck by his humility. He made me wish I’d been kinder to him in print.
Diaz was a former gang member from Harlem who went on to become Pennsylvania’s first Latino judge. He told me he used to worry about his day job, but that was before he was named crusade chairman. Billy wasn’t due to arrive in Philadelphia for another month, the judge said, but already, the crusade had changed his life.
The judge said that during the two-hour prayer sessions, men broke down and cried and asked one another to forgive the sins of prejudice and misunderstanding. The prayer group was bringing together blacks, whites and Latinos, city dwellers and suburbanites.
In another crusade preview story for the Inquirer, I interviewed Billy’s critics on the Christian left and right. It was like batting practice. Father Michael Doyle, a Catholic priest who went to jail for destroying draft records during the Vietnam War, said he wouldn’t be in the stands at the Vet when Billy came to town.
Billy seemed curious about my rapt attention. One night before he went on, he glanced over at me, a look of concern on his face. “Are you getting anything out of this?” he said. Yes, I said. I didn’t tell him this, but I was finally able to see and appreciate the faithful way that Billy served his Savior.
"My dear Ralph," he wrote in a letter on June 27, 1992, from his home in Montreat, N.C. “Words cannot express my appreciation for the wonderful articles you wrote about the crusade. They were absolutely terrific. I think the committee and the churches that participated are deeply in your debt."
"I hate to leave the city -- I have fallen in love with Philadelphia all over again!"
"I believe there is hope for the future of this city, and I wish I could stay here much longer . . . I shall look back on this 1992 Crusade in Philadelphia with the warmest and fondest memories."
"Most cordially and gratefully yours, Billy.”
By George Anastasia
He was a wealthy and politically connected lawyer, an arrogant and self-assured mover and shaker in Wilmington and throughout the state of Delaware.
She was a young, attractive appointment secretary to the governor.
At one time they were lovers.
She broke it off. He wanted her back.
When she balked, he killed her.
In many ways Tom Capano was more despicable than any mobster I have ever written about.
The Summer Wind is the story of that tragic love affair and senseless murder.
Now available as an ebook.
In the latest episode of Mob Talk Sitdown, veteran crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser do some forecasting on whether reputed Philadelphia mob boss "Skinny Joey" Merlino faces a rematch with the feds, in the aftermath of his mistrial in Manhattan.
The odds are that he does, Anastasia says.
That's because the numbers both reporters are hearing from the secret jury deliberations in the big East Coast mob trial in federal court strongly favor the government.
So let's get ready to do it again. In the meantime, tune in to the latest episode of Mob Talk Sitdown.
|Former ADA Mariana "You're Killing My Case" Sorensen|
Eight years ago, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen conducted the first interview with Danny Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe," right after a detective bailed the former altar boy out of jail, so he could assume the staring role in a witch hunt about to be staged against the Catholic Church.
But according to the D.A.'s office, Sorensen took no notes on Jan. 28, 2010, when she and Detective Drew Snyder interviewed Gallagher, along with his parents, at the D.A.'s office. According to what the D.A.'s office represented at two criminal trials, in front of at least three different judges, the only notes that existed from that initial interview with Gallagher were three pages of notes typed up by Detective Snyder.
Eight years later, seven pages of typed notes by Sorensen from that initial interview with Gallagher have mysteriously reappeared, a copy of which was sent to BigTrial. Defense lawyers in the case say those notes should have been turned over at two criminal trials, where three priests and a former schoolteacher were sent to jail for the alleged repeated rapes of Danny Gallagher. It's the latest episode of prosecutorial misconduct in a case replete with it, a case that's headed for a final chapter later this year when a new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, plans to retry Msgr. William J. Lynn, the lead defendant, on a charge of endangering the welfare of a child.
On July 29, 2011, with Judge Lillian Ransom presiding, five assistant district attorneys and five defense lawyers were gathered for a pretrial hearing in a case billed by then District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams as a "historic" prosecution of the Catholic Church.
The subject was whether the D.A.'s office had turned over to defense lawyers all the evidence it had gathered for prosecution, as required by law. Suddenly, it was time for some tap-dancing.
"This is where I need to talk to you about any statements at some earlier point that Mr. [Danny] Gallagher may have made as far as interviews at or with members of the D.A.'s office," Assistant District Attorney Sorensen told the judge. "I checked with [former Deputy District Attorney, and Sorensen's boss] Charlie Gallagher. There's nothing discoverable."
"I know that occasionally a piece of paper gets turned the wrong way," the judge replied. "If you come across anything, turn that over."
"Yes, Your Honor," Sorensen replied.
"I'll accept your representation as it stands now," the judge said.
"Thank you," Sorensen replied.
Michael J. McGovern, a defense lawyer and former ADA himself representing Father Charles Engelhardt, then asked about "oral statements and oral interviews" conducted by the D.A.'s office, especially, "the substance of any oral interviews, notes or anything that related to interaction and discussion with [Danny Gallagher]."
"Let me ask you this, Mr. McGovern," the judge interjected. "What I asked Ms. Sorensen to look for were written statements. Now if you are making reference to oral statements, they would not be recorded any place."
"There may be notes," McGovern replied. "I'm asking for anything. I'm being told that there was an investigation of this major complaint for over a year, and there is nothing documented or recorded about it. I find that hard to believe."
"That may be hard to believe, but that's the representation that we have at this point," the judge said.
"Good enough," McGovern said.
Later in the hearing, Judge Ransom turned to another prosecutor in the courtroom, Assistant District Attorney Evangelia Manos, and asked about discovery motions filed by the defense lawyers.
"Ms. Manos, I want to talk to you about these," the judge said, referring to discovery motions seeking "statements or interviews conducted by the district attorney's office. That [motion] is granted," the judge said.
"Ms. Manos, the judge said, is it your position that as of today you have turned over everything that you have?"
"Correct," Manos said.
"As of today?" the judge asked.
"Correct," Manos replied.
"It's an ongoing discovery issue," the judge told the prosecutor. "If other statements come into your possession, whether they're new or old . . . "
"Correct," Manos said.
"They have to be turned over," the judge concluded.
But during two criminal trials, and appeals in those cases, the D.A.'s office never turned over Sorensen's notes.
Charles Gallagher, former chief of the Special Investigations Unit, of which Sorensen was a member, could not be reached for comment. Neither could McGovern.
THE DANNY GALLAGHER INTERVIEW
On Jan. 28, 2010, Detective Drew Snyder showed up at Graterford Prison to spring Danny Gallagher out of jail, where he was being held for a probation violation, and chauffeured him over to the D.A.'s office, where Gallagher's parents were waiting, along with ADA Sorensen.
Danny Gallagher was about to tell a story how, back when he was a 10 and 11-year-old altar boy at St. Jerome's Church in Northeast Philadelphia, he had allegedly been passed around like a piñata among three different rapists.
This was music to the D.A.'s office, under Rufus Seth Williams, which was looking to make headlines by being the first prosecutorial agency in the country to put a Catholic priest in jail, not for sexually abusing a child, but for covering it up.
Gallagher at the time was 21, and so the usual protocol at the D.A.'s office in any sex abuse investigation would have been to interview Gallagher and his parents, James, a Philadelphia police department, and Sheila, a registered nurse, separately. But that's not what happened that day at the D.A.'s office.
The usual protocol also called for the detective and/or Sorensen to ask Danny Gallagher questions, and on a "483" police form, write down those questions, as well as the answers. And when the interview was finished, the usual protocol called for having Danny Gallagher review the Q and A interview form, make corrections, and then sign it.
Sorensen, according to what the D.A.'s office has represented for the past eight years, at two different
criminal trials, in front of at least three different judges, sat there like a potted plant, took no notes, and apparently asked no questions.
But now we know that Sorensen typed up seven pages of notes, and asked plenty of questions. And in what she describes as a typed "summary," she refers to handwritten notes that are presumably still missing.
What Snyder and Sorensen were dealing with was a completely non-credible witness who told an unbelievable story of abuse previously to two social workers from the archdiocese. In those stories, Gallagher claimed to have been anally raped for five hours by one priest, knocked unconscious and tied up with altar sashes by another priest, threatened with death if he talked, and strangled with a seatbelt by the schoolteacher who raped him.
Then, when he told new versions of abuse to the police and the grand jury and the D.A.'s office, Gallagher dropped all those above details and invented an entirely new tale of abuse featuring oral sex and mutual masturbation, as well as being forced to perform strip-teases.
So Snyder and Sorensen were trying to pin Gallagher down on a semi-credible tale. The less notes the better. And certainly a Q and A form, or multiple quotes from Gallagher, were only going to cause further credibility problems for a witness with no credibility.
Keep in mind that the lead detective in this case, Joe Walsh, has previously come forward to say that he caught Danny Gallagher telling numerous lies. And when the detective confronted Gallagher about it, he admitted he had just "made stuff up" and "told them anything."
And when Detective Walsh repeatedly informed Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen that Gallagher was not a credible witness, she replied that she still believed Gallagher's fairy tales, and, "You're killing my case."
WHAT SORENSEN'S LONG-LOST NOTES SAY
From: Mariana Sorensen, Assistant District Attorney, SIU
Re: Interview of Daniel Gallagher and parents 1/28/2010
Supplement to Det. Snyder's notes
"I sat in on Detective Andrew Snyder's Jan. 28, 2010, interview with Daniel Gallagher," she wrote. "The summary below is typed up from my notes and includes some things that might not have appeared in Det. Snyder's notes. [Detective Snyder and I were both of out of the room at various times when Danny and his parents said things.]"
In her notes, Sorensen says that she talked to Gallagher's parents before he came into the room. And here, for the D.A.'s office, is where things start to get messy.
"At age 14, Danny changed," Sorensen wrote, after questioning Gallagher's parents. "He got kicked out of High School. They [the parents] didn't know what had precipitated the change. They attributed his behavior to the death of his grandmother, and that they had allowed him to see her as she was dying [or her body after she died??]"
A. Yes. At age 14, as he entered high school, freshman year at high school, he wasn't the same child. He was very troubling to us.
A. He was basically a very pleasant, active, happy person prior to that and he was defined by some people as either Dennis the Menace or the All-American boy up to that point.
Q. Ok. So he's leaving St. Jerome's and entering into high school?
When Thomas A. Bergstrom, Msgr. Lynn's lawyer read the first page of Sorensen's notes, he couldn't believe it.
"She completely fabricates what the mother told her," Bergstrom said about ADA Sorennsen "That's an absolute, outright lie. There's no wiggle room there. She [Sorensen] heard it twice from the mother."
According to the mom, Danny Gallagher's personality change took place in high school, at age 14, and not in grammar school, at age 11. On top of that, Gallagher's parents blamed the death of Gallagher's grandmother for the personality change, and not sex abuse.
Those notes should have been turned over to the defense, Bergstrom said.
In Sorensen's notes, she describes four encounters Danny Gallagher allegedly had with Father Engelhardt, two of which resulted in sex abuse. In the grand jury report, there are only three encounters with Engelhardt, and only one resulting in sex abuse.
But that's not what the grand jury report says.
Sorensen quotes Danny Gallagher in her notes as saying things that were supposedly said by his attackers, but the quotes are missing from Snyder's notes, and they also do not appear in the grand jury report.
"There are certain things that people do that God wants them to do," Father Engelhardt supposedly tells Gallagher. "But people don't really talk about it. But it's natural . . ."
"You can do these acts without being a sinner [if you pray??]" Sorensen says Gallagher quoted the priest as saying. The priest also supposedly asked, "Do you want to practice?" as in sex. There are also specific details such as the priest allegedly unbuttoning the boy's shirt, and saying, "You are dismissed," that don't appear in Snyder's notes, or the grand jury report.
This is the kind of material that defense lawyers would use to impeach a witness. But you can't ask any questions if the D.A. deliberately buries the evidence.
In Sorensen version of the encounters with Engelhardt, "Danny said he he told the priest if he came near him again, he'd kill him." Snyder makes the same claim. But Gallagher told the social workers it was the priest who threatened to kill him; the grand jury report doesn't mention any death threat.
In Sorensen's notes, Gallagher claims that Father Avery attacked him "in a backroom where supplies are kept." Snyder says the attack takes place in a "back storage room." But in the official grand jury report, Avery allegedly attacks Gallagher in the sacristy.
In Sorensen's notes, Avery supposedly says during the attacks, "Look at me, son," and, "This is what God wanted."
"Danny says those words will never leave him," Sorensen writes. But Snyder doesn't mention this, and those quotes are left out of the grand jury report.
In Sorensen's notes, schoolteacher Bernard Shero attacks Gallagher in an area of a park known as "Little City" and they pass a sign that says "Welcome to Winchester Park." But in the Snyder version the rape occurs in a parking lot near Shawn and Holmhurst Street; in the grand jury report, the location is a park about a mile from Gallagher's house. In the Shero attacks, petroleum jelly and paper towels are used in the attack, details Snyder doesn't mention, details not in the grand jury report.
Now this prosecutorial misconduct is the problem of a new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner. Will he go forward with the trial of Msgr. Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy? Lynn's conviction on one count of endangering the welfare of a child had twice been overturned by the state Superior Court.
Ben Waxman, a spokesman for the D.A.'s office, did not respond to a request for comment.
By Ralph Cipriano
On Jan. 28, 2010, Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen and Detective Drew Snyder met behind closed doors at the D.A.'s office with Danny Gallagher, to hear for the first time his tearful tales of abuse.
Snyder had just bailed Gallagher out of Graterford Prison, where he was being held on a probation violation. Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe," the lying, scheming altar boy, was a third-rate con man with a rap sheet that included a half-dozen arrests for retail theft and drugs, including one bust for possession with intent to distribute 56 bags of heroin. He was just a junkie hustler trying to figure out a way to stay out of jail, and maybe score some easy cash.
So Gallagher told his stories to the prosecutor and the detective. Eight years later, we know those stories were all lies. But eight years ago, the facts didn't matter because prosecutor Sorensen was an ideologue on a mission, out to get the Catholic Church at any cost. And Detective Snyder, who usually investigated insurance fraud, apparently was in over his head.
Behind closed doors, the third-rate conman peddled an improbable story about a helpless altar boy being passed around by three brazen rapists, who were all acting in cahoots. And a couple of chumps named Sorensen and Snyder bought one lie after another, without doing any investigating. When they got finished, Sorensen wrote eleven of Danny Gallagher's outright lies, and a dozen of her own, into the 2011 grand jury report that indicted three priests and a school teacher for rape, as well as a monsignor, for endangering the welfare of children.
As Sorensen noted in that grand jury report, "These are sordid, shocking acts." She could have been talking about the crimes she committed against truth.
Eight years later, why does all of this still matter?
Because the district attorney's office, under our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, is planning to retry Msgr. William J. Lynn later this year on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, namely Gallagher.
Because one of the priests Gallagher sent to jail, the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, died there, after he had been smeared and libeled by a grand jury report as a child rapist, and then was falsely imprisoned for crimes that never happened. The priest died in jail, after spending his last hours handcuffed to a hospital bed, denied a life-saving heart operation, and still protesting his innocence. His life and death ought to matter.
And finally, there's schoolteacher Bernard Shero, falsely accused of rape. A judge recently signed off on an unprecedented plea bargain that let Shero out of jail 11 1/2 years early because of prosecutorial misconduct. But Shero is still falsely labeled on Megan's List as a child rapist. It's a shame and a burden that he and and his family, who have already spent their life savings to get their son out of jail, more than $200,000, should no longer have to carry.
In a just society, Sorensen would bear the shame. She would lose her law license, and that grand jury report she wrote would be retracted. The D.A.'s office would drop its planned retrial of Msgr. Lynn; Father Engelhardt's reputation would be restored, along with a posthumous apology. And Bernie Shero would no longer have go through life falsely labeled as a child rapist.
In a just society, former Assistant District Attorney Sorensen would be indicted, and former D.A. Rufus Seth Williams would be dragged into court wearing his jumpsuit, so both of them could be prosecuted for filing a false instrument. That's the 2011 grand jury report, which we know now is a complete work of fiction. A work of fiction that's about to be destroyed today, along with the reputation of its author.
But this is Philadelphia, where they can put a district attorney in jail for taking bribes, but the crimes he committed against Lady Justice go on and on. That's because we have a criminal justice system that likes to pretend it's infallible. And because in this city, we appear to have an endless supply of prosecutors who love the headlines they get when they're going after the Catholic Church. Even though the current crusade is based on lies.
So attention Progressive Larry Krasner, this is what you just bought into. In seeking to retry Msgr. Lynn, for the sake of headlines, you just bought in its entirety that fraudulent 2011 grand jury report. You just bought Danny Gallagher as your fraudulent "victim" and star witness. And you just bought Mariana Sorensen as your sullied prosecutor, with all of her lies and supposedly non-existant notes that suddenly reappear after eight years. Notes that various members of the D.A.'s office at two criminal trials, and in front of three different judges, have repeatedly lied about by saying they didn't exist.
Today, we're going to dive into Sorensen's long-lost notes and examine eleven Danny Gallagher lies in those notes that Sorensen subsequently wrote into that 2011 grand jury report without doing any investigating. These are lies that were subsequently exposed by the work of the D.A.'s own detectives, who blew up a false narrative. Then, of course, Sorensen wrote another lie into that grand jury report of her own making, and made up eleven more lies about the other alleged victim in the case, which we will cover as well.
And the defense responds by putting the D.A.'s office on trial. By calling former Detective Joe Walsh and former ADA Mariana Sorensen as its star witnesses.
Lie No. 1: Who Put Away The Wine After Mass.
What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "Father [Charles] Engelhardt was the first one to abuse Danny"when he was 10 years old, Sorensen wrote. "Right after mass, the priest caught Danny drinking the wine he was supposed to pour down the drain (the altar boys always liked drinking the wine)."
What Sorensen wrote in the Jan. 21, 2011 grand jury report:"While Billy was cleaning up in the church sacristy, Father Engelhardt caught him drinking some of the leftover wine. The priest did not scold the 10-year-old altar boy. Instead, he poured him more of the sacramental wine and began asking personal questions, such as whether he had a girlfriend" before the priest supposedly showed the boy pornography.
The truth: Almost a year after the grand jury report came out, on Jan. 9, 2012, Detective Joe Walsh interviewed Danny Gallagher's older brother, James, who not only served as an altar boy at the same church, but also served as a church volunteer known as a sexton. In a 14-page signed statement, James Gallagher told Walsh that it was a couple of sextons who put away the sacramental wine after mass, and not the altar boys.
"The sextons would take care of the sacraments," the older brother told the detective. This was backed up in other interviews Walsh conducted with priests and nuns at St. Jerome's, the alleged site of the serial rape spree.
At the Engelhardt-Shero trial, the jury sent a note to the judge, asking why James Gallagher wasn't called as a witness. The answer, according to defense lawyers in the case, was that the prosecutors misled them about James Gallagher's availability as a witness, to dodge a subpoena sent through the mail. The end result, according to the defense lawyers -- the prosecutors were able to hide an exculpatory witness during trial.
But hey, at a retrial of Msgr. Lynn, why not recall the older brother, a lawyer, and put him on the spot by asking to explain again how he knew his younger brother was lying?
Lie No. 2: The Myth Of "Sessions."
What Sorensen wrote in her notes:"I hear you had your sessions with Father Engelhardt," Father Edward Avery supposedly told poor little innocent Danny, while the priest had a smile on his face, and supposedly added,"You know what I'm talking about. I'll be talking to you soon."
What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report: She had Father Engelhardt use the secret code word for sex abuse first, "He [Engelhardt] also told Billy that it was time for him to become a man and that 'sessions' with the priest would soon begin. With that enigmatic statement, Father Engelhardt let Billy go to school. At the time, the fifth grader did not understand what the priest meant . . ."
"A few months after the encounter with Father Englehardt, Billy was putting the bells away after choir practice when Father Edward Avery pulled him aside to say that he had heard about Father Engelhardt's sessions with Billy and that his sessions with the boy would soon begin. Billy pretended he did not know what Father Avery was talking about, but his stomach turned."
"He [Engelhardt] said that's a phrase that's been put in my mouth, it's been put in Avery's mouth," defense lawyer Michael J. McGovern remembered his client telling him. "That's a term I've never used,"the priest told his lawyer. Furthermore, "He [Engelhardt] has never heard a priest use that phrase,"McGovern said.
Avery was just as mystified, according to his lawyer, Michael E. Wallace. "I was with him 16 months and I never heard him use the term," Wallace said about sessions. "He didn't know what the hell he [Danny Gallagher] was talking about."
So "sessions" was a drug counselor's term that Danny Gallagher borrowed when he invented his tales of abuse.
Lie No. 3: The Bell Choir.
What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "On Friday, when Danny did bell choir, Avery approached Danny as he was helping with bell choir . . ."
What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report: Billy "also participated in the 'maintenance department' of the school's bell choir, meaning he took the bells out of their cases before choir practice and put them away at the end."
"A few months after the encounter with Father Englehardt, Billy was putting the bells away after choir practice when Father Edward Avery pulled him aside . . . "
The truth: At the trial of Father Engelhardt and Bernard Shero, three teachers from St. Jerome's, including the church's longtime music director, testified that only eighth grade boys were allowed to be members of the bell choir maintenance crew. Not only were fifth grade boys barred from serving on the maintenance crew, the teachers told the jury, but so were sixth and seventh grade boys.
It was the same story the three teachers had told Detective Joe Walsh, when he showed up at the school to investigate Danny Gallagher's cockamamie stories.
Unlike former ADA Sorensen and Detective Snyder, Detective Joe Walsh did some investigating; he went out and talked to the teachers at St. Jerome's, and then he showed their witness statements to Danny Gallagher.
"When confronted with this information, Gallagher could not provide an answer and remained quiet with his head down," Walsh wrote in a 12-page affidavit. "I told him that at the trial the judge would instruct him that he had to answer the lawyers' questions, that he just could not be able to not answer the questions."
"Gallagher remained silent and did not provide an answer," Walsh wrote. "I concluded all this information was a lie."
Lie No. 4: The books under Danny's bed.
What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "When Danny left the room, they [his parents] told me that something they could never understand was starting to make sense. They said that Danny is a hoarder, and that he kept things hidden around his room. They said one thing he kept for years under his bed was a book on sexual abuse. They thought that maybe he had taken it from the library of Christian Academy, where he finished high school after being kicked out of [Archbishop] Ryan. They said that they had asked Danny about it once when he was in high school, but that he had said the book was for a report he was doing."
What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report: "He [Danny] checked books out of the library about sexual abuse."
"It was at an inpatient drug treatment facility that Billy first told someone about his abuse. Billy's mother testified that she probably should have suspected something before then, because she found two books about sexual abuse hidden under Billy's bed, when he was in high school. She asked him about the books at the time, but he covered up for his abusers by telling her that he had them for a school assignment."
In fiction, this rhetorical device is known as the omniscient narrator. In non-fiction, it's what we call a lie.
The truth: The two textbooks on sex abuse that Danny Gallagher kept under his bed were not taken out of the high school library by Gallagher. A detective did some brilliant detective work. He opened one of the books and discovered a library card inside that said the books had been borrowed from the Ogontz branch of the Philadelphia Free Library by Chanee Mahoney, another student at Christian Academy, the new high school that Gallagher had transferred to.
On Jan. 17, 2012, Detective Fisher interviewed Mahoney, then 24, who told him she had checked the books out of the library, and either put them in her locker, which was unlocked, or left them out on a table. About Danny Gallagher, who Mahoney said was always getting into trouble, "could have gone in the locker . . . I definitely did not give them to him." The implication from Mahoney was that Danny Gallagher had stolen the books.
Walsh subsequently confronted Danny Gallagher.
Lie No. 5: Switching Masses
What Sorensen wrote in her notes:"After his encounters with [Father Edward] Avery, he [Danny] would avoid seeing masses with Avery (he could do this by trading with other altar boys).
What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"From then on, Billy avoided serving Mass with Father Avery by trading assignments with other altar boys. But, like many children who are sexually abused, he was too frightened and filled with self-blame to report what had been done to him."
Nice dramatic touches. What a novelist that Sorensen is!
The truth: When Detective Walsh interviewed James Gallagher, Danny Gallagher's older brother, he asked him as a former altar boy what he would have had to do to switch a mass. The older brother said switching a Mass wasn't as easy as Danny Gallagher made it sound.
"I would need a good reason for my parents -- If I wanted to switch with someone," James Gallagher told the detective. "Next I would have to get approval from Father Graham [the church pastor] and call the altar server you wanted to switch with."
When Detective Walsh questioned Danny Gallagher, he asked how the former altar boy could have known which priest was serving Mass because the schedule changed daily. The schedule of priests serving Mass, the priests and nuns at St. Jerome's told the detective, was posted only inside the rectory, where Gallagher wouldn't have access to it. Only priests had access to the Mass schedule.
When confronted by Walsh, Danny Gallagher had no answers.
Lie No. 6: Danny Gallagher was alone in the sacristy with Father Engelhardt.
What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "Right after Mass, the priest caught Danny drinking the wine . . . they were in the room where they get dressed. Engelhardt asked Danny to stay."
What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report: "Billy was a 10-year-old altar boy in the fifth grade at St Jerome School in Philadelphia . . . While alone with him in the sacristy, Father Charles Engelhardt began to show Billy pornographic magazines. Eventually, the priest directed Billy to take off his clothes . . ."
The truth: When Detective Walsh interviewed James Gallagher, Danny's older brother the lawyer, he
said there were two altar boys assigned to every Mass. In addition, two sextons were around before and after the altar boys showed up and left, and that it was one of the sextons who had the key to the church. So it was the sexton who was the first one there at the church to open the doors, and the last one to leave, after he locked up. Also, as opposed to what Danny Gallagher claimed, that the priest locked all doors to the sacristy before he raped poor little Danny, older brother James told the detective that the doors of the sacristy were always kept open during the Mass, including one propped open with a door. One of those open doors in the sacristy led to the only bathroom in the tiny church.
When Detective Walsh talked to the priests and nuns at St. Jerome's they confirmed there were two sextons and usually a couple of other altar boys at each Mass; in addition, the pastor of the church, was usually hanging around the sacristy, so it was unlikely that the priest was ever alone with Danny, so he could supposedly rape him, as Danny Gallagher claimed. Also, the priests and nuns told the detective that he doors of the sacristy were kept open during Mass.
When Detective Walsh confronted Gallagher, he had no answers.
Lie No. 7: Danny Gallagher was alone with Father Avery after Mass.
What Sorensen wrote in her notes:"The next encounter with Avery occurred in the summer before sixth grade--near Danny's birthday (July 14)(he was turning 11). Danny had served a funeral Mass with Father Avery and Father Graham. Father Graham went to the burial . . . Avery sent the other altar servers home, but asked Danny to stay and help clean up. Avery said it was time for their next session . . . and it would be quick and feel good. They went into the same room [a supply closet] as before. Danny said that Avery had on this smile like he couldn't wait for it . . . Avery proceeded to tell Danny to strip and dance. Avery started to strip too . . ."
What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"Following an afternoon Mass . . . Billy was cleaning a chalice, Father Avery again directed the 10-year-old to strip for him. When Billy did as he was told, the priest fondled and fellated him . . ."
The truth: In his affidavit, Walsh explained that he asked Gallagher how he could claim that he was sexually abused by Father Avery after a funeral Mass in July 1999, when he was supposedly left alone with the priest. But the church register that listed all funeral Masses, as well as all the priests who served, showed that Avery had served at no funeral Mass that year. Another point raised by Walsh: according to the register, there were usually two priests serving at every funeral Mass.
In his affidavit, Walsh stated that he confronted Gallagher by showing him the church register.
"After a very long pause Gallagher then said there were two priests there who said the Mass. And that the other priest went to the cemetery and Fr. Avery remained at the church," Walsh wrote. "I then asked [Gallagher] where was the sexton, [an older man who was a church volunteer] who had to clean the altar and put the vestments away and put everything else away after Mass."
What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "A week or two later, he got really sick," Sorensen wrote about the aftermath of schoolteacher Bernard Shero raping him. "Missed school Lost 20 lbs. He had a bad cough, and at the end of each cough, he'd vomit. When he went back to school, Shero went back to the same demeanor, rubbing [Danny's] back, etc . . . Danny would walk away."
What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"In the sixth grade, when Shero raped and orally sodomized him, he went through an extended period when he would gag and vomit for no reason. His mother took him to doctors of both conditions, but there was never a diagnosis . . ."
The truth: In his closing statement to the jury in the Engelhardt-Shero trial, prosecutor Mark Cipollettti repeatedly said that after he was attacked by Shero, Danny Gallagher missed three and a half days of school. But when they pulled his report card for that marking period it showed zero absences. Also, Danny's medical records showed no drastic weight loss.
Lie No. 9: Father Engelhardt raped Danny Gallagher.
What Sorensen wrote in her notes:"Father Engelhardt was the first one to abuse Danny, and afterwards, the priest supposedly said, "That was a good session" and "You are dismissed."
What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report: "While alone with him in the sacristy, Father Charles Engelhardt began to show Billy pornographic magazines. Eventually the priest directed the boy to take off his clothes . . . After ejaculating on Billy, Father Engelhardt told him he was 'dismissed.'"
"After that, Billy was in effect passed around to Engelhardt's colleagues."
The truth: Danny Gallagher claimed that after he was raped by Father Engelhardt, he sat outside on the steps at St. Jerome's for an hour in the dead of winter, and waited for the school to open. But Detective Walsh knew from Danny's older brother that the parents typically drove both altar boys to and from the church.
"I asked [Danny] Gallagher to explain why his parents would permit him to walk approximately one mile from their house to the church carrying his cassock and school books at 6:00 a.m. in the dark, in December, when his older brother said he always got a ride to and from church when he served 6:15 a.m. Mass," Walsh wrote.
"I asked him [Danny] how his parents would permit him to sit outside school for about one hour after Mass waiting for school to open," Walsh wrote. "I told Gallagher I didn't believe his parents would permit him to walk to church at 6:00 a.m. and then remain outside school for about one hour."
Lie No. 10: Father Avery raped Danny Gallagher.
What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "Father Avery was the second adult to abuse Danny . . . Avery was 'quite forceful' and Danny thought he'd get in trouble if he didn't obey." Afterwards, the priest had Danny sit in his lap and he told the boy, "I'm proud of you," and, "You will be rewarded."
What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"After that [the Engelhardt attack], Billy was in effect passed around to Engelhardt's colleagues. Father Edward Avery undressed with the boy, told him that God loved him, had him engage in oral intercourse . . . The session ended when Father Avery ejaculated on Billy and told him to clean up. The priest told Billy that it had been a good
session, and they would have another again soon."
The truth:"When I questioned Gallagher about all these discrepancies," Detective Walsh wrote in his affidavit, "he just put his head down and did not answer me," Walsh wrote. "I asked him several times for an answer, but he would not answer me. I concluded Gallagher was not sexually abused by Fr. Avery."
What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "Shero offered him a ride . . . Shero said: 'It's time for your sex education.' He starts to undo his own pants and tells Danny to undo his . . . After the sex is over, Shero's demeanor changes. He throws Danny's clothes at him and tells him he was very good. He then made Danny walk home. He says he'll see Danny in school." When Danny gets home, "he hopped in the shower, but felt like he couldn't get clean."
What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"After that [Engelhardt attack], Billy was in effect passed around to Engelhardt's colleagues," she wrote. After Avery abused Billy, "Next was the turn of Bernard Shero, a teacher in the school," Sorensen wrote. "Shero offered Billy a ride home, but instead stopped at a park, told Billy they were 'going to have some fun,' took of the boy's clothes, orally and anally raped him, and then made him walk the rest of the way home."
The truth: Detective Walsh asked Gallagher about his alleged sexual assault by Shero, and Gallagher's original claims. Gallagher had previously told two social workers for the archdiocese, as well as to one of his drug counselors, that Shero had allegedly punched him in the face before he attempted to anally rape him.
Then, Gallagher claimed he was high on drugs and didn't remember what he told the social workers or the drug counselor.
But Walsh knew from his investigation that none of that was true. In his affidavit, Walsh related how he explained to Gallagher that he had interviewed a trio of witnesses -- the drug counselor, one of the social workers, as well as Gallagher's own father -- and that the three witnesses "all said he [Gallagher] was not high on drugs," the detective wrote.
"Gallagher didn't answer me," Walsh wrote. "He put his head down and refused to answer. I concluded that Gallagher was not sexually abused by Mr. Shero."
What Sorensen wrote in her notes: At age 14, Danny changed," Sorensen wrote, after questioning Gallagher's parents. "He got kicked out of High School. They [the parents] didn't know what had precipitated the change. They attributed his behavior to the death of his grandmother, and that they had allowed him to see her as she was dying [or her body after she died??]"
What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"Billy’s mother also told us of a dramatic change in her son’s personality that coincided with the abuse. His friends and their parents also noticed this personality change. Billy’s mother watched as her friendly, happy, sociable son turned into a lonely, sullen boy. He no longer played sports or socialized with his friends. He separated himself, and began to smoke marijuana at age 11. By the time Billy was in high school, he was abusing prescription painkillers, and eventually he graduated to heroin."
The truth: The personality change took place in high school, when he was 14. It did not happen back in grade school, at St. Jerome's, when Danny was 10 and 11 years old, and according to his mother's grand jury testimony, was either described as "either Dennis the Menace or the All-American boy." And according to Danny's parents, his personality change wasn't because of abuse, it was because Danny's grandmother died.
Lies 13-23: The other alleged victim in the 2011 grand jury indictment, Mark Bukowski, then 14, was anally raped by Father James J. Brennan back in 1996.
What Mark Bukowski told the grand jury: "I got into bed with him [Father Brennan] and . . . He began to hug me from behind . . . I felt his erect penis between my butt cheeks. My boxers were still on, however, I do not know if he had shorts on . . . I remember lastly thinking what the fuck happened tonight and crying myself to sleep with his penis still between my butt cheeks, saying to myself over and over again, why is this happening?"
Ok, we can all agree if the witness is telling the truth, none of this should have ever happened. But what does Sorensen do with this grand jury testimony? She throws gas on the fire by turning what Father Brennan's lawyer termed a "savage spooning" into an anal rape. While both the attacker and the victim, according to Bukowski's trial testimony, had their t-shirts on, as well as their boxer shorts.
That grand jury report, as well as its lying author, is what Progressive Larry Krasner has just bought into.
At any retrial of Msgr. Lynn, his lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, will almost certainly call Mariana Sorensen as a witness.
Bergstrom also plans to call as his star witness, Detective Joe Walsh, formerly of the D.A.'s office, and the lead detective on the Danny Gallagher case.
Walsh will explain how he repeatedly told Sorensen that the evidence he was gathering proved that Danny Gallagher wasn't credible. And then Walsh willl testify that no matter what he said, Sorensen kept telling him that she still believed Danny, before finally saying, "You're killing my case."
So Progressive Larry Krasner, when it comes to a retrial of Msgr. Lynn, the lies of Danny Gallagher and Mariana Sorensen might kill your case.
In Philadelphia, under our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, it's now legal to be a prostitute, providing you're just getting started.
Under new policies announced on Feb. 15th by Krasner, his assistant D.A.s are being told "do not charge prostitution cases against sex workers where a person who has been arrested has two, one, or no prostitution convictions." In the case of a new hooker, ADAs are instructed to "withdraw all pending cases in these categories that would be declined for charging under this policy."
But if a person has "three or more prostitution convictions," then an individual can be "charged with prostitution and immediately referred to DAWN Court," the new rules state. It's enough to make you wonder what Larry Krasner has against old hookers.
Other offenses that ADAs are being told to decline charging include possession of marijuana "regardless of weight," and paraphernalia offenses "where the drug involved is marijuana."
A former prosecutor who read the new policies described them as "agenda driven," adding, "He [Krasner] is very naive and obviously he's someone who has zero experience dealing with crime victims and the effects of crime."
Summary offenses are the most minor type of criminal offense in the state, such as loitering or disorderly conduct, and are usually punishable by a fine. Under the Krasner regime, ADAS are told, "You must seek supervisory approval to charge and dispose of retail theft cases at misdemeanor or felony levels."
"Remember, that a summary conviction permits a sentence of 90 days incarceration, fines up to $250, and full restitution," the new policies state. "These penalties are sufficient to hold a retail theft accountable."
Under the new policies, Krasner is telling his ADAs he wants them to divert more cases. Diversion programs, such as community service, restitution, or taking an educational course, are an alternative to normal sentencing that allows the offender to avoid charges and a criminal record.
"All attorneys are directed to approach diversion and re-entry with greater flexibility and an eye toward achieving accountability and justice while avoiding convictions where appropriate," the new policies state.
For example, "an otherwise law-abiding, first DUI (driving under the influence) defendant who has no driver's license (regardless of whether or not that defendant's immigration status interferes with obtaining a license under Pa. law) may apply for individualized consideration for diversion with a requirement of efforts to overcome license impediments where possible as an aspect of any diversionary program."
Also, defendants charged with marijuana delivery or possession with intent to deliver may apply for diversion programs, the new policies state.
When it comes to sentencing, Krasner wants his assistants to "state on the record the benefits and costs of the sentence you are recommending."
"The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world," the new policies state. "It has increased 500% over a few decades. Pennsylvania and Philadelphia have been incarcerating at an even higher rate than comparable U.S. states and cities for decades -- a 700 percent increase over the same few decades in Pennsylvania; and Philadelphia in recent years, has been the most incarcerated of the 10 largest cities. Yet Pennsylvania and Philadelphia are not safer as a result, due to wasting resources in corrections rather than investing in other measures that reduce crime."
Accordingly, ADAs under Krasner are actually required to state the costs of incarceration when they're recommending a sentence to a judge in a criminal case.
"At sentencing, ADAs must state on the record their reasoning for requesting a particular sentence, and must state the unique benefits and cotes of the sentence," the new policies state. The document then lists the costs of incarceration, $42,000 a year for one person, which boils down to $3,500 per month or $115 a day. If you add up pensions and other benefits to correctional employees, the total cost for incarcerating one individual in Philadelphia is "close to $60,000 per year," the new policies state.
That's comparable to a year's salary for a beginning teacher, police officer, firefighter, social worker, assistant district attorney or addiction counselor, the new policies state. So if an ADA is recommending that somebody go to jail for three years, the cost to the taxpayer is at least $126,000, the new policies state. If you're going to put somebody away for 25 years, it will cost $1,050,000. If an ADA is going to recommend a sentence such as 25 years, he or she must "explain why they believe that cost is justified."
At a press conference today to announce his new policies, Krasner declared, "A dollar spent in incarceration should be worth it."
In addition, Krasner is asking his ADAS to request shorter periods of probation. The new policies cite chronological studies that show that most violations of probation occur during the first 12 months.
Krasner also instructs his ADAs that a positive drug test for marijuana is no longer a parole violation, as is possession of marijuana "without supervisory approval."
So all you parollees, as far as Larry Krasner is concerned, smoke 'em if you got em.
|Former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen [right]|
As Desi Arnaz used to say on the old I Love Lucy show, "Luuucyyy, you got some 'splainin to do!"
Now reprising the role of Lucy: former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen.
Court records show that defense lawyers in the "Billy Doe" sex abuse case had repeatedly sought Sorensen's long-lost notes from her initial interview eight years ago with Billy Doe, the lying, scheming altar boy whose real name is Danny Gallagher. In three different courtrooms, in front of three different judges, three different prosecutors from the D.A.'s office, including Sorensen, have repeatedly stated that those notes didn't exist. But then those notes mysteriously reappeared last month, and somebody was kind enough to drop a copy on BigTrial.net.
The notes, a glaring example of prosecutorial misconduct, are relevant again. That's because the D.A.'s office, under the reform leadership of Progressive Larry Krasner, is proceeding with a planned retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy is accused of endangering the welfare of a child, Gallagher, by allegedly placing him in harm's way of a predator priest. But today we know that Gallagher previously admitted to Detective Joe Walsh, the lead detective on the case who filed a sworn affidavit, that Gallagher made up his stories of abuse about supposedly being raped by two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher.
But the legal show grinds on. Lawyers on both sides of the Msgr. Lynn case are scheduled to appear in state Superior Court on Tuesday morning, to argue appeal motions filed over the planned retrial of the monsignor. The Superior Court has twice already overturned the Lynn verdict; the monsignor's lawyers on Tuesday will be going for the trifecta. At the hearing, expect Lynn's lawyers to show those appeal judges Sorensen's long-lost notes, and talk about a continuing pattern of prosecutorial misconduct in the case originally championed by former D.A. Rufus Seth Williams, now wearing a jumpsuit in a federal prison in Oklahoma.
The trail of deception emanating from the D.A.'s office begins on July 29, 2011, when Judge Lillian Ransom was presiding over a pretrial hearing attended by five assistant district attorneys and five defense lawyers. The subject was whether the D.A.'s office had turned over to defense lawyers in the archdiocese sex abuse case all the evidence it had gathered for prosecution, as required by law.
This was before the judge severed the case involving five defendants, setting up two trials: the first, with defendants Msgr. Lynn, Father James J. Brennan, and former priest Edward Avery; the second, with defendants Father Charles Engelhardt and former schoolteacher Bernard Shero.
"This is where I need to talk to you about any statements at some earlier point that Mr. [Danny] Gallagher may have made as far as interviews at or with members of the D.A.'s office," Assistant District Attorney Sorensen told Judge Ransom. "I checked with [Deputy District Attorney] Charlie Gallagher. There's nothing discoverable."
There was only one problem with Sorensen's alibi. When she said it, Charlie Gallagher was long gone from the D.A.'s office, and had absolutely nothing to do with the case.
Two years earlier, on July 8, 2009, former District Attorney Charles Gallagher had retired from the Philadelphia D.A.'s office after 30 years, and taken a new job as the chief deputy district attorney of Lehigh County. So if Sorensen was telling the truth, why was she running anything past Charlie Gallagher?
"I know that occasionally a piece of paper gets turned the wrong way," the judge replied to Sorensen. "If you come across anything, turn that over."
"Yes, Your Honor," Sorensen replied.
"I'll accept your representation as it stands now," the judge said.
"Thank you," Sorensen replied.
In his motion, Rose noted that he had "repeatedly requested" that he be provided with "copies of any statements or interviews" taken by detectives or prosecutors "with regard to Danny Gallagher."
On April 25, 2012, Rose wrote, Danny Gallagher testified at the trial of Msgr. Lynn. On the witness stand, Gallagher talked about his initial interview at the D.A.'s office, after Detective Drew Snyder bailed Gallagher out of jail. Gallagher testified that he "gave a statement" at the D.A.'s office to Detective Snyder, and Assistant District Attorneys Mariana Sorensen and Evangelia Manos. In his motion, Rose noted that "such a statement" had never been provided to the defense.
In his motion, Rose included a letter, dated June 29, 2012, that he sent to the D.A.'s office, requesting any statements made by Gallagher. Then, Rose wrote in his motion, he followed his letter up by telephoning Assistant District Attorney Sorensen, "who stated that she was not aware of any such statement."
On Sept. 14, 2012, the lawyers from both sides of the case were summoned to a pretrial hearing in front of Judge Ellen Ceisler, who would preside over the second archdiocese sex abuse trial, against Father Engelhardt and schoolteacher Shero.
At the hearing, Mike McGovern, the lawyer who represented Engelhardt, who subsequently died in prison, was talking about witness statements in the case.
"We never got a statement from this complaint," McGovern told the judge, referring to Gallagher. "And this historic grand jury, they never took a statement from him. They never took a statement from Dan Gallagher. I know you look shocked," McGovern told the judge. "We're shocked," McGovern said, referring to himself and Rose. "The Commonwealth said they never took a statement."
"We don't need to go off on that now," Judge Ceisler said. "So you're saying at this point that [Rose's] motion asking for Brady material [is] nonexistent?" she said, referring to the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case of Brady v. Maryland, which established that prosecutors have a duty to turn over any evidence that might benefit a defendant.
That's when Assistant District Attorney Pat Blessington spoke up.
"Right," he said.
On Nov. 15, 2012, lawyers were gathered in Judge Ceisler's courtroom for a pretrial hearing in the Engelhardt-Shero case. And the subject was whether the prosecution could call Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen as a witness at the Engelhardt-Shero trial.
At the hearing, McGovern stated that he thought that was a bad idea, because Sorensen was such a partisan. When he stated his opinions to Judge Ceisler, however, McGovern had no idea how partisan Sorensen was. And that she might be partisan enough to hide seven pages of notes for eight years.
"Mariana is very much invested in the case," McGovern told the judge. "She's very invested in the prosecution of this case and I think it comes through in her writing that she's very emotionally committed to the prosecution of the case, has been involved in the grand juries for abut a decade now. I don't see where it is probative and relevant and admissible for Ms. Sorensen to educate the jury in this case as to what the history was leading up to the arrest of these defendants."
"So," the judge said, "your argument is that she [Sorensen] is not going to be a properly unbiased witness, that she'll be too inflammatory and possibly prejudicial, number one, and two, that it's not relevant?"
McGovern decided to stay away from personal attacks.
"Number one, that it's not relevant," McGovern said.
In response, Assistant District Attorney Evangelia Manos argued that she still wanted to call Sorensen as a witness, because "she's an essential part of the case."
Eight years later, it looks like former ADA Sorensen is more essential than ever, as Msgr. Lynn's lawyer plan to subpoena Sorensen as one of their own witnesses, so she can testify about her first-hand knowledge about prosecutorial misconduct in the case.
By Ralph Cipriano
A lawyer for Msgr. William J. Lynn told a panel of state appeal court judges today that former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen knowingly put a witness on the stand that the lead detective in the case had repeatedly warned her was not truthful.
"She knew he was gonna lie," Thomas A. Bergstrom said about Sorensen and her star witness, Danny Gallagher, the lying, scheming altar boy.
Bergstrom accused the D.A.'s office of taking an "Alice in Wonderland" approach to the archdiocese sex abuse case. First, back in 2011, they indicted Msgr. Lynn, three priests, and a Catholic schoolteacher. Then, they asked Joe Walsh, their "hand-picked detective," to investigate the case, to see if Gallagher's allegations were true, Bergstrom told a panel of three state Superior Court judges. And what the detective discover? That their "one and only witness is lying," Bergstrom said, referring again to Gallagher.
That's why Sorensen, according to Walsh, told the detective, "You're killing my case," Bergstrom said. Because she knew if Walsh was right, that Danny Gallagher was a liar, "my case is over," Bergstrom told the judges.
Judge Eugene Strassburger interrupted to ask if Sorensen's alleged statement "could simply be hyperbole."
No way, Bergstrom said. "She doesn't care," Bergstrom said about Sorensen. "She knows he's lying," he said about Gallagher, but she "put him on the stand" any way. "The Commonwealth had every reason to believe he's lying."
In rebuttal, Assistant District Attorney Anthony Pomerantz replied that it didn't matter what Walsh's opinion was of Danny Gallagher; nor did it matter what Sorensen believed. The only thing that mattered for Lynn to be guilty of endangering the welfare of a child, Pomerantz said, was for him to "knowingly violate" his duty to protect children from a known abusive priest. The monsignor did that, Pomerantz said, by putting a known abusive priest back in active ministry, where he could potentially harm more kids.
If Danny Gallagher is a liar, Pomerantz asked the judges, then why did that abusive former priest, Edward Avery, plead guilty back in 2012 to conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse?
Pomerantz didn't mention Avery's explanation under oath -- that the former priest, then 69, was looking at a prison sentence of 13 1/2 to 27 years in jail, and was facing a hostile judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, when he pleaded guilty to two crimes he testified that he didn't commit.
"I didn't want to die in prison," the former priest testified, explaining why he took a sweetheart plea bargain on the eve of the Lynn trial, and got only 2 1/2 to 5 years in jail. He wound up serving the full sentence and was released from prison last year.
At his trial in 2012, Msgr. Lynn was convicted on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, and sentenced to 3 to 6 years in jail. He served 33 months of his minimum 36 month sentence before his conviction was overturned for a second time by the state Superior Court in 2016. The court had previously overturned Lynn's conviction back in 2013. This is the third time the Lynn case has gone up on appeal to the Superior Court.
Today's hearing, under chandeliers and sconces in an ornate courtroom, began with Assistant District Attorney Pomerantz arguing that the panel of judges should overrule Judge Gwendolyn Bright's decision to limit the D.A.'s office to introducing as supplemental evidence, just three additional cases of sex abuse in the archdiocese.
Since the beginning of the case, the strategy of the D.A.'s office has been to put the Catholic Church on trial. They did that at the original Lynn trial by introducing as evidence 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse dating back to the 1940s, before Lynn was born. The supplemental cases were introduced as evidence to show a pattern in the archdiocese of covering up sex abuse.
But the state Superior Court overturned Lynn's conviction in 2016, by arguing that the prejudicial effect of the 21 supplemental cases, which took up 25 days of the 32-day trial, far outweighed their value as evidence.
In response, the D.A.'s office proposed introducing only nine supplemental cases at a retrial of the monsignor, but the trial judge, Judge Bright, approved only three cases. The D.A.'s office then appealed to the state Superior Court, asking the judges to overturn Judge Bright's decision because it allegedly was an abuse of her discretion.
Superior Court Judge Anne Lazarus asked Assistant District Attorney Pomerantz how it could be an abuse of the trial judge's discretion if Judge Bright was willing to allow the prosecution to present three supplemental cases of sex abuse to show a pattern of cover ups in the archdiocese.
Pomerantz's response was that the D.A.'s office had carefully reviewed all 21 supplemental cases, and narrowed the list down to only nine cases that Lynn was involved in. The D.A.'s argument was that Lynn was attempting to protect the church from scandal and abuser priests from jail "at the expense of those children," and that's why he should be convicted again of endangering the welfare of a child.
In response to the D.A.'s appeal over the supplemental cases, Bergstrom also appealed a ruling of Judge Bright, by arguing that the retrial of Msgr. Lynn should be thrown out on the grounds of double jeopardy, because of intentional prosecutorial misconduct.
Judge Bright found there had been prosecutorial misconduct at the original Lynn trial. The misconduct, the judge said, was that the prosecution never told the defense that Detective Walsh had questioned Danny Gallagher before the Lynn trial about several key discrepancies in his allegations of abuse. And that Gallagher had responded by either saying nothing, claiming he was high on drugs, or telling a new story.
But Judge Bright stopped short of throwing the retrial out on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct, by ruling that the misconduct wasn't intentional. In his appeal, Bergstrom countered that the misconduct was intentional.
Judging by the tepid response both appeal motions got from the panel of judges, however, a knowledgable observer predicted that this time around, the state Superior Court will deny both the defense motion, as well as the prosecution motion. And send the case back to Judge Bright for a retrial of Msgr. Lynn.
At today's hearing, Bergstrom did not mention the recent discovery of Assistant District Attorney Sorensen's long lost notes from her original 2010 interview with Danny Gallagher, after he had just been bailed out of jail by the D.A.'s office, so he could testify against the church.
Sorensen and other prosecutors in the case had previously told three different judges that those notes didn't exist. Then, after a gap of eight years, those notes suddenly reappeared last month.
Bergstrom couldn't bring up those notes because they weren't previously introduced on the record in Judge Bright's courtroom. But when the case goes back to Judge Bright for a retrial, he's free to make plenty of noise about those notes.
In the latest episode of Mob Talk SitDown, George Anastasia and Dave Schratweiser discuss why Skinny Joey Merlino decided last week to cop a plea in New York.
The two ace crime reporters also discuss a couple of pending federal investigations into gambling and drugs, and what it means for the Philadelphia mob.
By Ralph Cipriano
On the 18th floor of the D.A.'s office, Richard Sax, a retired homicide prosecutor, was talking behind closed doors with Assistant District Attorney Pat Blessington.
On Wednesday afternoon, Blessington had summoned Sax to his office to seek his help in fighting the appeal of a third-degree murder conviction. A jury in 2013 found Steven Miller, 22, guilty of shooting to death Maurice Kimble, an unarmed 24-year-old man, outside a restaurant at the Piazza in Northern Liberties, in front of numerous witnesses. Sax, the original prosecutor in the case, had volunteered to testify on behalf of the Commonwealth's efforts to keep Miller in jail. But not everybody was on board with Sax's attempts to help out.
Just minutes into their discussion, Blessington and Sax were startled by a loud banging on the door. Before ADA Blessingon could even say "Come in," a red-faced District Attorney Larry Krasner, barged inside, accompanied by at least four armed members of the D.A.'s security detail, with more on the way.
"He lost it," Sax said about the D.A. "He was spitting fire. He was shaking . . . He was pounding on the door like a storm trooper. He brought his entire posse."
"I was only trying to help," Sax said. But instead, he said, he found himself locked in a face-to-face confrontation with a "mean-spirited" Larry Krasner.
One of Krasner's armed security officers had "a pair of handcuffs hanging in front of his belt," Sax recalled. "I honestly did not know what to expect. It was intimidating. I thought I was going to leave in cuffs."
According to Sax's account of the confrontation, it was Krasner who spoke first.
"Mr. Sax," the D.A. said.
"Mr. Krasner," Sax said he replied.
The two men aren't exactly pals. Sax was the leader of a posse of veteran prosecutors who had publicly proclaimed that Krasner, a career defense lawyer and civil libertarian who had sued the city police department 75 times, would be a disaster if elected as district attorney.
Shortly after he took office, after Krasner fired 31 career prosecutors, Sax told reporters that the new D.A.'s actions were "personal and vindictive," and that the D.A. had targeted prosecutors who had either tangled with Krasner in court when he was a defense lawyer, or had feuded with his wife, Judge Lisa Rau.
Krasner dismissed the fallout over the firings as the "normal growing pains" of an office in transition. And on national radio, Krasner charged that Sax was a member of an old regime that had a "win at all costs" mentality, and was known for targeting people of color.
That upset Sax, who responded on Facebook that many of the crime victims he had stood up for as a prosecutor had also been people of color. Sax has also railed on his Facebook page about how Krasner was "destroying" the D.A.'s office, and that it "may take 10-20 years to undo the damage from his personal, vindictive, counterproductive personnel purge of many of the Best & Brightest & most dedicated" former prosecutors. Sax also dubbed the D.A.'s office the "District Expungement Office," because of what he said was an unwillingness to prosecute criminals.
But that was politics. In person, Sax, despite having his right shoulder in a sling from an operation late last week on a rotator cuff, painfully extended his right hand in an offer of peace to the new D.A.
But Progressive Larry Krasner wasn't willing to shake hands, Sax said. Instead, he acted like he only wanted to fight.
"What are you doing here?" Sax recalled Krasner barking at him.
"I tried to explain that I was invited here and asked to come here to prepare for my testimony," Sax said. But Krasner, according to Sax, wasn't listening.
"He immediately went on the attack," Sax said. "Are you subpoenaed to be here," he kept yelling at Sax. "Are you subpoenaed to be here, yes or no . . . Answer the question, yes or no!"
The D.A. then demanded to see a subpoena if Sax indeed had one.
"It was kind of bizarre," said Sax, a career prosecutor who spent 36 years working at the D.A.'s office, 30 of those years in homicide, before he retired last year.
"After 36 years in the office, every murder case I ever prosecuted was important to me," Sax said. "lt was my case then and it'll be my case till the day I die. There was really no need to give me a subpoena." Anything that ADA Blessington asked him to do to secure justice, Sax said, he was willing to do voluntarily.
But, " I never really had the opportunity to explain that to him," Sax said about the D.A., because Krasner kept screaming at him, demanding to know if he had a subpoena, and wanting to see it.
"Eventually, I said no, I didn't have a subpoena," Sax said. Krasner, Sax said, responded by "repeatedly and aggressively getting in my face" and demanding to know whether Sax had signed in at the front desk.
Sax didn't think he had to. According to his account, he had previously explained to two security officers at the front desk, both of whom he had known for years, that he had been summoned to the D.A.'s office by ADA Blessington. And that Sax would simply wait at the front desk until Blessington came down from his 18th floor office to get him.
Which is what happened, Sax said. The retired prosecutor said he tried to explain this to Krasner, but that Krasner kept cutting him off. The D.A. also cut off Blessington every time he tried to say something, Sax said.
"Those were the only two lines of inquiry," Sax said. Did he have a subpoena, and did he sign in at the front desk. "This went on for five or seven minutes," Sax said, in the presence of five or six security officers. "I felt threatened and intimidated," Sax said. "I felt I was going to be arrested."
In response, Ben Waxman, a spokesman for Krasner, called Sax's description of the incident "a totally inaccurate version of events. Larry did speak to Mr. Sax but only to ask him why he was in the building. The total interaction probably lasted 90 seconds."
No way, Sax said.
"Ben wasn't there, but Pat [Blessington] was, and so were five or six security people," Sax responded. "I was trying to do the right thing."
But Krasner, Sax said, "wouldn't let me talk. He didn't want to hear it. He just wanted to confront me and be incredibly arrogant and mean-spirited."
"He treated me like a criminal," Sax said.
But if he was a criminal, Sax was reminded, Krasner the veteran defense lawyer would have done his best to help him, and keep him out of jail.
Sax laughed, and corrected himself.
"He treated me like someone who's in law enforcement," Sax said. "And he [Krasner] has a real bias against law enforcement. When he was a defense lawyer, to him, every cop was a criminal and every prosecutor was a liar, trying to hide evidence."
In an email, rather than apologize for his boss's boorish behavior, Waxman stayed on the attack.
"Mr. Sax entered the District Attorney's Office without signing in, which is required of all non-employees," Waxman wrote. "He then falsely told two security officers that he was coming into the building because he had been 'subpoenaed.' This was untrue. Mr. Sax then tried to claim that he hadn't lied to the security officers. All of this was documented in a memo by the DAO security detail. Despite all of this, Mr. Sax was allowed to stay in the building because he was helping to prep a case for one of our ADAs."
As far as Sax was concerned, Waxman was playing semantics.
"I would have gladly signed in if anybody asked me to," Sax said. "If he [Krasner] wants to attack me, I understand, but we know what happened. When a D.A. in that office tells me that my appearance is required, I consider that a subpoena."
"If he [Krasner] wants to go back and forth on this, he knows what he did and why he did it."
Waxman, however, contended that the D.A. was concerned about security, especially when it came to critics like Sax.
"Last week, someone on Mr. Sax's personal Facebook page posted that Larry should be 'put down' like a rabid dog," Waxman wrote. "The DAO is a secure building and we expect all visitors to follow the rules designed to ensure the safety of our staff."
Sax conceded that someone had indeed posted a comment on his Facebook page, in response to one of his anti-Krasner posts, and that the commenter did compare the D.A. to a rabid dog."I immediately called him out on it," Sax said, and the offending comment was taken down.
On Thursday, Sax, again at ADA Blessington's request, showed up at the Criminal Justice Center, and waited out in the hallway to be called as a witness during the appeal hearing under the Post-Conviction Relief Act. Miller the convicted killer is currently serving a 23 1/2 to 47 year sentence.
Sax explained to a reporter that he was there to support the victim's relatives, who have showed up faithfully at every court appearance since Kimble was murdered.
"They're a wonderful family," Sax said. "Their loved one was was unarmed and cut down in cold blood simply because he had the gall to talk to a girl who was there with the defendant. A significant part of the murder is on video. The Piazza was packed. He [Miller] did it in front of 22 to 45 witnesses."
But the day ended without Sax being called to testify. He'll have to come back next week when the appeal hearing is continued. Sax said he'll be there, to show his support for the victim's family, as well as ADA Blessington.
"I was trying to do the right thing," Sax said. But he can't say the same about the new D.A.
"He's supposed to be so smart," Sax said. If Krasner had taken "90 seconds" to investigate why Sax was at the D.A.'s office, Sax said, the D.A. could have spared himself a public embarrassment.
But when you're Progressive Larry Krasner, here to lead the revolution, you're always riding a white horse. And sometimes, like what happened on Wednesday, behaving like a horse's ass.
|Our New D.A. Loves To Cuddle Up To Criminals|
Today, at the request of the D.A.'s office, a judge let a convicted murderer go free. Along the way, the D.A. gratuitously smeared the reputation of a former prosecutor who hadn't even been formally accused of misconduct.
It was all in a day's work for Progressive Larry Krasner, the new D.A. financed by $1.6 million of George Soros's money who's making good on his campaign promise to turn the D.A.'s office upside down.
Richard Sax, the former prosecutor targeted in court by Krasner, said afterwards that he applauded the new D.A. for being that "rare breed of politician" who keeps his campaign promises. Sadly, Sax said, the campaign promise that Krasner is keeping involves "emptying the jails."
"I just didn't think he [Krasner] would include murderers," Sax said.
Call him the Great Emancipator.
As a defense attorney, Krasner talked former D.A. Rufus Seth Williams, now in a federal prison serving four years for political corruption, into setting free more than 800 convicted drug dealers arrested by former members of the city police department's Narcotics Field Unit South. The drug dealers were set free even though the D.A.'s office on two occasions had to subsequently admit in court that it possessed absolutely no evidence of any misconduct by those narcotics officers.
On behalf of Newsweek, I was able to track the records of about 400 of those newly emancipated drug dealers. More than 200 were subsequently arrested on charges that included rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a gun, attempted murder, and murder. People like Jason Sidiero, who, less than a year after he was released, in 2015, was charged with murder after he allegedly shot to death Michael Walsh.
As D.A., Krasner has already given rapper Meek Mill a pass. Today in court, Common Pleas Court Judge Kathryn Streeter Lewis granted a motion filed by the D.A.'s office to overturn the murder conviction of Dontia Patterson, who was serving a life sentence, because of what the D.A. claimed was "an egregious example of police and prosecutorial misconduct."
Patterson was convicted in 2009 of the murder two years earlier of Antwine Johnson, 18, outside a corner store on Granite Street, after two eyewitnesses testified against the defendant. In a motion to dismiss the charges, the D.A.'s office argued that the prosecutors were "completely lacking in integrity" because they supposedly did not disclose evidence about another possible suspect in the murder of Johnson, a man who himself ound up being murdered a few months after Johnson's murder.
But the D.A. was improvising. No allegation of prosecutorial misconduct had been made during the appeal of Patterson's conviction. Instead, the alleged grounds for throwing out the charges rested on the claimed ineffectiveness of Patterson's defense lawyer. It was the D.A.'s office under Krasner that decided to introduce the allegation that the prosecutors had hid evidence that might have exonerated Patterson.
Former prosecutor Sax dismissed the D.A.'s new allegations as "nonsense."
"Every single piece of possible exculpatory evidence was turned over," Sax insisted. "I've done that for 37 years." Of the hundreds of murder cases he successfully prosecuted during his career, Sax said, not one conviction was ever reversed because of prosecutorial misconduct.
There's one other problem with the overturning of the Patterson case; for more than a year, Crasser has been engaged in a noisy public feud with Sax. That feud culminated in a confrontation last week, when Krasner, surrounded by four to six members of his security detail, pounded on a door on the 18th floor of the D.A.'s office and verbally attacked Sax, who was inside, for allegedly trespassing.
At the time, however, Sax was there at the request of Patrick Blessington, an assistant district attorney under Krasner, who was prepping Sax to testify at another appeals hearing in another murder case that Sax originally prosecuted. Days later after that confrontation, Krasner's minions were smearing Sax in court for alleged misconduct.
"There was not even a claim of prosecutorial misconduct for the D.A.'s office to address," Sax said. "It [the appeal] was sent back for ineffective counsel."
The only way for the D.A. to lodge a claim of prosecutorial misconduct against him, Sax said, was for Krasner to personally order his subordinates to make one up.
Ben Waxman, a spokesman for Krasner, did not respond to a request for comment.
As far as Sax is concerned, the D.A. has a vendetta against him.
"It feels that way to me," Sax said. The investigation into Patterson's appeal was done "so quickly," Sax said. Patterson was released on bail and held on house arrest in March, after Krasner had only been in office for three months.
"The case was in litigation for 12 years," Sax said. Patterson was convicted by a jury, and the case was upheld on appeal by the state Superior Court. There were no allegations of prosecutorial misconduct on appeal.
Sax said he was the victim of an "unfair and unjust attack in a case where a man convicted of murder is now being set free."
Richard Glazer of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project had advocated for years that Patterson was an innocent man, Sax said. Then, Glazer became one of Krasner's "inner circle," Sax said. From then on, Sax claims, the fix was in.
"Larry Krasner didn't need an investigation," Sax contended. The case was so poorly investigated that detectives were unable to contact any member of the murder victim's family, to inform them that the D.A. was about to let the convicted killer of their loved one free. As a result, no member of the victim's family attended today's court hearing.
At the hearing, Anthony Voci, chief of the new D.A.'s homicide unit, quoted the Declaration of Independence and asserted that prosecutors had to ensure that no one is improperly denied the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
If the D.A.'s office is sincerely interested in overturning cases where prosecutorial misconduct has been committed, they ought to be aborting the planned retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn.
Lynn, the Archdiocese's former secretary for clergy, was convicted in 2012 of one count of endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly placing a former altar boy known as "Billy Doe" in harm's way of a known abuser priest, Ed Avery.
But Gallagher has subsequently been revealed to be a liar in a case overflowing with prosecutorial misconduct.
Former Detective Joe Walsh has come forward to state in an affidavit that Billy Doe, whose real name is Danny Gallagher, admitted to the detective that he had made up his stories of abuse after Walsh caught Gallagher in one lie after another.
After a hearing in Common Pleas Court, Judge Gwendolyn Bright found the D.A.'s office had committed prosecutorial misconduct serious enough to warrant a new trial for Msgr. Lynn. So if the D.A. was seeking justice in the Lynn case, there would be no need to have to make up any new allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
In his affidavit, Detective Walsh also disclosed that he repeatedly questioned Gallagher about discrepancies in his many tales of abuse, and that Gallagher's evasive answers and new stories of abuse were never divulged to defense lawyers.
In his affidavit, Walsh also stated that after he repeatedly warned Mariana Sorensen, the lead prosecutor in the case, that his investigation had determined that Gallagher wasn't telling the truth, Sorensen replied, "You're killing my case."
And here's the capper. For the past eight years, ADA Sorensen, as well as two other assistant D.A.s, have testified in three different courtrooms that Sorensen took no notes when she initially interviewed Gallagher back in 2010, shortly after a detective bailed Gallagher out of jail.
And then, eight years, later, seven pages of Sorensen's notes have mysteriously reappeared. Holy Declaration of Independence!
Talk about an egregious example of prosecutorial misconduct, complete with evidence backing that up, Walsh's affidavit, and Sorensen's long-lost notes.
But the D.A.'s office under Progressive Larry Krasner is proceeding full speed ahead with a planned retrial of Msgr. Lynn, who has already served 33 months of his 36-month sentence, plus 18 months of house arrest.
Because Larry Krasner's sense of outrage over prosecutorial misconduct does not extend to Roman Catholic priests falsely accused.
Waxman, the D.A.'s spokesman, was hiding under his desk and unable to respond to a request for comment about prosecutorial misconduct in the Lynn case.
By Ralph Cipriano
On May 14, 2015, FBI Agent Vicki Humpheys, accompanied by an IRS agent, approached Pierre Gomez, a detective formerly assigned to the security detail of then-D.A. Rufus Seth Williams, and asked if Gomez would cooperate in a federal corruption investigation of his boss.
Gomez said yes. His reward, he claimed in a civil rights lawsuit filed today against the city, was to be retaliated against by his superiors in the D.A.'s office.
The day after the FBI buttonholed him, Gomez's lawsuit charged, he was questioned by his bosses at the D.A.'s office about what he told the feds. Weeks later, an investigator who claimedd he had been hired by D.A. Williams's lawyers called and advised Gomez that the city "could make it good" if he remained loyal to his boss.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, seeks "in excess of $200,000" in damages, and names as defendants the city of Philadelphia, D.A. Larry Krasner, Chief of County Detectives Claude Thomas, and county Detective Kenyatta Lee.
Gomez, a former member of the D.A.'s Dangerous Drug Offenders Unit, was assigned to a special task force with the Drug Enforcement Agency. "Detective Gomez excelled in his position," wrote his lawyers, Robert J. McNelly and Shawn M. Rodgers of Hatboro. "He assisted in hundreds of complex narcotics investigations, and became a highly valued asset to the federal agents who oversaw his work."
But then the D.A.'s office reassigned Gomez to the Criminal Complaints Unit, " a far less prominent position, which fails to utilize the skills and experience that Detective Gomez obtained working complex federal investigations," the lawsuit states.
There was a reason why Gomez was demoted.
"For the past two years, Detective Gomez has cooperated with the federal investigation concerning the corruption charges of former District Attorney Seth Williams," the lawsuit states. "As a result of his cooperation, Detective Gomez suffered systematic retaliation from the City and the District Attorney's Office. The latest transfer to the Criminal Complaints Unit is only the most recent example of the severe and pervasive adverse actions, with which Detective Gomez has been forced to endure."
The county had "targeted Detective Gomez and acted to discourage him from assisting investigators," the lawsuit states. "Specifically, it sought to prevent Detective Gomez from testifying before the Grand Jury and at a possible future trial. The county's retaliatory conduct violates Detective Gomez's fundamental rights protected by federal law and the United States Constitution."
Working on Williams's protection detail from 2010 to 2014, Gomez "gleaned much information regarding Williams's activities," the lawsuit said. But Gomez's cooperation with the feds did not sit well with his bosses, who, according to the lawsuit, lied to him, and tried to smear him.
"Lt. Lee claimed that the DEA task force no longer has use for Detective Gomez," the lawsuit said, even though that assertion was "directly controverted by [DEA] Assistant Special Agent In Charge Ralph Reyes and Group Supervisor Special Agent Greg White."
Lt. Lee, the lawsuit states, "filed an improper reprimand memo against [Gomez], citing specific violations of Police Department rules and regulations." The reprimand memo, the lawsuit claims "was baseless and a transparent attempt to tarnish the stellar employment record of Detective Gomez."
Among the retaliatory acts, the lawsuit claims, was the decision by Gomez's bosses to deny about $30,000 worth of overtime assignments for Gomez to work in the wiretap room. Gomez's repeated requests to work overtime were repeatedly denied by his superiors, the lawsuit states.
In 2016, the lawsuit states, Gomez's superiors leaked the detective's "name and personal information" to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter -- "even though [Gomez] was presently at work on a covert assignment with the DEA."
The reporter requested the names, salaries and overtime figures for members of Seth Williams's security detail. An assistant D.A. promptly provided the reporter with that information, the lawsuit charges.
"For the purpose of retribution, the County intentionally risked the life and safety of Detective Gomez," the lawsuit states. In addition, the county assigned Gomez to an unarmed car that Gomez subsequently discovered was "experiencing a product recall in regard to its seatbelts." When Gomez reported the recall to his supervisors, the lawsuit said, the detective was told "to take the vehicle to an unauthorized repair shop on his own time."
"After three weeks of riding in a vehicle with defective seatbelts, Detective Gomez decided to comply with the recall at his own expense," the lawsuit states.
On March 14, 2016, Chief of County Detectives Claude Thomas circulated an email to all personnel who had formerly been assigned to Williams's security detail, telling them "not to respond" to third party inquiries" regarding Seth Williams.
Gomez received a grand jury subpoena, and promptly told Thomas. The detective asked his boss "whether Thomas's directive applied to federal inquiries, including the subpoena." According to the lawsuit, the answer was yes.
On Aug. 1, 2017, just weeks after Seth Williams pleaded guilty, the D.A.'s office notified Gomez that he was being transferred from the DEA task force to the Criminal Complaints Unit. The D.A.'s office also "implemented a policy, practice or custom" to "dissuade Detective Gomez from cooperating with FBI investigators," the lawsuit states. That policy included "testifying against Williams, either before the Grand Jury or at trial," the lawsuit said, as well as "to penalize Detective Gomez for his cooperation and anticipated testimony."
The D.A.'s office "continues to follow this police, practice or custom, as the Office continues to target, marginalize and punish Detective Gomez for cooperating with FBI investigators," the lawsuit states. The result is that the D.A.'s office has "destroyed Detective Gomez's once promising career,"
the detective's lawyers wrote.
The lawsuit also claims that the D.A.'s office, by retaliating against Gomez, violated the state Whistleblower Law, as well as intentionally inflicted emotional distress.
New Jersey's going to have legalized sports betting in a matter of weeks; Pennsylvania, in a matter of months.
With the U.S. Supreme Court clearing the way for sports gambling everywhere, reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser examine the impact the loss of gambling revenues will have on the mob. First, the government stole the numbers racket, and now this.
Just remember, when you place bets with your bookie, you don't have to pay taxes.
It's the latest edition of Mob Talk SitDown.
|Lead Detective for D.A. Larry Krasner|
Months ago, our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, dispatched his crack detectives to find the family of murder victim Antwine Jackson, an 18 year-old man shot to death back in 2007.
Progressive Larry wanted to tell the Jackson family that as part of his historic reform of the local criminal justice system, he was planning to let their loved one's convicted killer out of jail, despite a life sentence, and without having to go through the bother of a new trial.
According to Ben Waxman, the D.A.'s spokesman, in the search for Jackson's family, the D.A.'s gumshoes spared no effort. They knocked on the doors of at least four different addresses, they sent out emails, they even mailed letters to the Jackson family through the usually reliable U.S. Post Office. But for months, despite all those efforts, the Jackson family somehow managed to elude the D.A.'s dragnet.
|The search for the Jackson family|
Funny how that worked out.
Today, intrepid Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Chris Palmer had a scoop; amazingly, he found Meka Jackson, the murder victim's sister, right outside her Mayfair home. And how did Palmer pull off this impressive piece of detective work?
When reached by email, the modest, mild-mannered reporter accepted Big Trial's congratulations on his scoop, but as far as how he managed to find the victim's sister, Palmer wrote back, "Thanks, but I'll let the story speak for itself."
Meanwhile, according to Palmer's story, Meka Jackson sounded less than convinced that Progressive Larry and his bloodhounds had worked very hard to get in touch with her family.
"If they wanted to hear out side of the story, they could have found us," the victim's sister told Palmer, adding that she felt "disrespected" by the D.A.
Last week, in response to an unopposed motion by the D.A., Common Pleas Court Judge Kathryn Streeter Lewis let Patterson out of jail, after the D.A. claimed the case was "an egregious example of police and prosecutorial misconduct."
Patterson was convicted in 2009 of the broad daylight murder Johnson, outside a corner store on Granite Street, after two eyewitnesses testified against the defendant. The case had been upheld on appeal, and no prosecutorial misconduct had been alleged. But in the motion to dismiss the charges, the D.A.'s office argued that the prosecutors were "completely lacking in integrity" because they supposedly did not disclose evidence about another possible suspect in the murder of Johnson.
In response, a former prosecutor on the case dismissed those charges as "nonsense."
But at the hearing, Anthony Voci, chief of the D.A.'s homicide unit, quoted the Declaration of Independence, and asserted that prosecutors had a duty to ensure that no person in the Commonwealth was improperly denied their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Patterson gave a few interviews after leaving court.
"They say you are innocent until proven guilty," Patterson told an Action News TV reporter, but he added that he found out "It is the other way around; you're guilty until proven innocent."
"I ain't the only one in this situation," Patterson told the TV reporter. There's "a whole lot of people in my situation."
An official from the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, the group that had lobbied for years for Patterson's release, told the TV reporter that there's "a lot more work to do," because more than 1,000 innocent people are presently locked up in Pennsylvania.
Rest assured, Larry Krasner is determined to get to all of them.
Patterson was happy to be getting out of jail after being away for 11 years. But what about Antwine Jackson's rights?
As his sister told reporter Palmer, "We've got to deal with a family member being away for the rest of our lives."
Mayor Jim Kenney's impromptu song and dance routine over a recent court victory that upheld the city's status as a sanctuary city is getting panned by conservative critics.
A White House spokesman described the mayor's soft-shoe number as "disgusting."
A Republican candidate for U.S. Senate said it was a "sad video to watch."
A co-host on Fox & Friends wondered what the parents of children slain by illegal aliens would make of it.
The critics were reacting to a four-second Twitter video of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney celebrating a federal court judge's ruling that backed the city in an ongoing legal dispute with the U.S. Justice Department over treatment of illegal aliens.
"We are a sanctuary city yeah," the mayor sang as he danced and high-fived Jane Slusser, his chief of staff, in a video posted on Twitter by a mayoral aide.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Baylson ruled that the Trump administration can't withhold some $1.6 million in law enforcement grants to Philadelphia because of the city's status as a sanctuary city.
In his ruling, the judge said that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions's position that illegal aliens are more likely to commit crimes was not borne out by evidence.
"There is no evidence on the record whatsoever that non-citizens in Philadelphia commit any more crimes than the citizens," the judge wrote.
Kenney hailed the decision as a "total and complete victory" that "prevents a White House run by a bully from bullying Philadelphia into changing its policies."
"It is a ruling that should make clear to Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions that federal grant dollars cannot be used for a political shakedown," the mayor said. "It is, most of all, a ruling that reminds everyone of why this city and this county exist -- to give safe haven, and hope, to those who flee tyranny, oppression and poverty in other parts of the world."
The White House had a different reaction to the judge's decision.
"Many people in Philadelphia have been killed, raped or assaulted at the hands of criminal illegal aliens," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told Fox News. Gidley went on to describe the mayor's singing and dancing act as disgusting.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice said that Judge Baylson's decision was nothing to celebrate, calling the ruling a "victory for criminal aliens in Philadelphia, who can continue to commit crimes in the city knowing that its leadership will protect them from federal immigration officers."
Philadelphia sued the attorney general after he threatened to withhold funds if the city did not cooperate fully with requirements on federal grants that provided Philadelphia last year with $1.6 million for items such as police overtime, training, equipment, as well as new courtroom technology.
In exchange for the funding, the U.S. attorney general wanted the city to provide the feds with a 48-hour notice of any scheduled release of any so-called prisoners of interest; the feds also wanted the right to interview inmates still in custody in Philadelphia.
The city's lawyers argued that the threatened ban was unconstitutional and that Philadelphia would only turn over immigrants to federal officials in cases where the feds had a warrant signed by a judge.
While The Philadelphia Inquirer ignored the mayor's song and dance routine, it was played in an endless loop on Fox News.
"Well, that's really a sad video to watch," U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Hazleton, a Republican congressman running for the U.S. Senate, told Fox News. "I don't think the families of the victims in Philadelphia who were victims of illegal aliens" are "dancing as well."
"How do you think angel parents are watching that dance, that celebration this morning," asked Abby Huntsman, a co-host on Fox & Friends, about parents whose children have been murdered by illegals. "Watching that mayor dance, you can imagine how upset that would make them."
By Ralph Cipriano
Lawrence J. Fox, a longtime Philadelphia lawyer who's a visiting lecturer at the Yale Law School, is an expert on teaching legal ethics and professional responsibility.
And Fox has harsh words for the conduct of former Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina, the lead prosecutor in the Jerry Sandusky case, as well as for Cynthia Baldwin, the former Penn State counsel who represented three top Penn State officials before the grand jury investigating Sandusky. That was before Baldwin flipped, at the behest of Fina, to become a prosecution witness, and testify against her former clients, an act of betrayal that horrified Fox.
"When lawyers feign representation, but in fact abandon their clients, and worse yet, become instrumentalities of the state, aiding the prosecution of their clients, the entire system of justice is systematically destroyed," Fox wrote in a 2013 filing recently unsealed in Dauphin County Common Pleas Court.
Tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Philadelphia, Fox will testify as an expert witness on behalf of the state Supreme Court's Disciplinary Board, to make the case that former prosecutor Fina is guilty of professional misconduct. But for those who can't wait for the hearing, Fox's scathing opinions of the alleged legal sins of Fina and Baldwin are laid out in the recently unsealed filing that has been completely ignored by reporters from the mainstream media; the same reporters who sought to have these documents unsealed. So it goes in the Penn State case, where media malpractice has been the norm.
"It is the Commonwealth whose lawyers were fully aware of the conflicts under which Ms. Baldwin was laboring at the time of the grand jury proceeding," Fox wrote, clearly referring to Fina, who questioned Baldwin in the grand jury after she flipped.
Fina was aware that Baldwin had a conflict of interest, Fox wrote, namely her decision to betray her former clients. Yet, Fina and his fellow prosecutors "stood silent," Fox wrote, and "took full advantage of the conflicts" to gather information to make a conspiracy and obstruction of justice case against those clients. But as part of his mission to seek the scalps of the three Penn State administrators, Fina had to mislead the grand jury judge, Fox wrote.
The prosecutors "never informed the court of the nature and extent of the conflicts" of interest posed by Baldwin's dual role in the case, Fox wrote. So that the court could fulfill its duty of assuring that the "rights of Messrs. [former Penn State vice president Gary] Schultz and [former Penn State athletic director Tim] Curley to effective representation were not systematically violated in the extreme."
In the unsealed filing, Fox ripped the Commonwealth's defense of Fina's actions.
"The Commonwealth actually asserts that because Messrs. Schultz and Curley were aware that Ms. Baldwin was general counsel for Penn State, they should have understood that they were merely second-class clients, and, as a result, are entitled to no attorney-client privilege whatsoever," Fox wrote.
But the Rules of Professional Conduct do not mention "a watered-down second-class version of clienthood," Fox wrote; the rules of Professional Conduct only define "one form of clienthood" that's subject to the attorney-client privilege.
Before she flipped, Fox wrote, Baldwin announced to "Schultz and Curley, the court, the grand jury, as well as the Commonwealth's lawyers" that she represented Schultz and Curley. But as their lawyer, Fox wrote, Baldwin was "required, in fact, to represent both of them to the full extent required by her fiduciary duties . . . the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, the Pennsylvania statutory provisions covering the right to counsel before a grand jury" as well as the U.S. Constitution.
But in reality, Fox wrote, while Baldwin was representing her clients, "her fingers were crossed behind her back, and she never fully intended to fulfill that obligation, let alone warn them they would not receive the benefit of attorney-client privilege because of their second-class status."
"The law governing the attorney-client privilege in a joint representation is clear," Fox wrote. "There can be no waiver of the privilege unless each client has given his or her informed consent . . . to waive the privilege."
But the record of the case "demonstrates that there never was so much as a telephone call" to let Schultz and Curley know that the Commonwealth was seeking a waiver of the attorney-client privilege, and that Baldwin was planning to testify against her clients, Fox wrote.
By not telling her former clients she was about to stab them in the back, Fox wrote, Baldwin "turns the law of privilege literally upside-down, rendering it a false protection and leaving the clients helpless before the power of the Commonwealth."
That certainly was OK with Frank Fina. As for Baldwin, Fox wrote, her "sins here are both manifold and manifest. Turning against one's client is the greatest betrayal a lawyer can commit."
"But that is what Ms. Baldwin did here, stripping the clients of any opportunity to object to her misdeeds," Fox wrote. "Either she was subpoenaed to the grand jury or she voluntarily agreed to appear. Either way, she ran right through the red light by, in fact, testifying before the grand jury without notice to her former clients."
"No lawyer is permitted to disclose confidential information without the informed consent of the client," Fox wrote. "As a result of Ms. Baldwin's misconduct, Messrs. Schultz and Curley went six months without being aware of Ms. Baldwin's betrayal, and only learned of her shocking abandonment of her former clients when the new indictment was issued. Ms. Baldwin's conduct in this regard cries out for relief."
Fox labeled Baldwin's conduct as a "blatant betrayal . . . unprecedented in the annals of lawyer representation of clients."
And according to the disciplinary board's petition against Fina, it was Fina who set up that blatant betrayal by hoodwinking Judge Barry Feudale, then presiding over the grand jury investigating Sandusky.
On Oct. 22, 2012, Fina and Baldwin appeared before the judge in a conference to discuss Schultz and Curley's claim of attorney-client privilege in light of Baldwin's imminent appearance before the grand jury where the Commonwealth planned to have Baldwin testify against her former clients.
The petition notes that lawyers for Schultz, Curley, as well as former Penn State President Graham Spanier, who was also formerly represented by Baldwin, were not invited to the conference. At the conference, the petition says, Fina told the judge regarding the attorney-client privilege that he intended to "put those matters on hold" until the judge made a decision regarding the privilege, and "we can address that later on."
Penn State's counsel then argued that the judge should make a ruling on the attorney-client privilege first, before Baldwin testified. But Fina told the judge, "We need not address the privilege issue," because "we are not going to ask questions about" the grand jury testimony of Schultz and Curley, "and any preparation for, or follow-up they had" with Baldwin, Fox wrote.
Fina asked the judge to keep Baldwin's testimony secret so "We can address this privilege matter at a later date." That prompted the judge to tell Fina to proceed under the assumption that "you're not going to get into any inquiry as to [Baldwin's] representation" of her former clients.
But Fina double-crossed the judge, as well as broke the rules of professional conduct. And that's not only Fox's opinion, but it was also the ruling of the state's Superior Court, when they threw out eight charges Fina filed against Spanier, Schultz and Curley.
On Oct. 26, 2012, Fina questioned Baldwin in front of the grand jury, and "did elicit" what the disciplinary board described as "extensive . . . attorney-client privileged communications between Baldwin and Curley, Schultz, and Spanier" as well as "confidential information" pertaining to the three former clients.
Fina's questioning of Baldwin was "calculated," the disciplinary board wrote, to solicit damaging information that would attack the credibility of Baldwin's three former clients. In the petition, the disciplinary board proceeded to list 73 examples from the grand jury transcript where Fina elicited confidential testimony from Baldwin that violated the attorney-client privilege, according to the petition filed by Paul J. Killion, chief disciplinary counsel, and Amelia C. Kittredge, disciplinary counsel.
That's 73 examples folks, of Fina bending the rules, and the judge going along with it. Without a defense lawyer in the secret chambers of the grand jury to say a word of protest on behalf of Baldwin's three former clients.
The actions of Fina and Baldwin in the grand jury were so egregious it prompted the state Superior Court to throw out a total of eight charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy against Schultz, Curley and Spanier.
Baldwin has already been called to task for her alleged ethical lapses. At a two-hour disciplinary hearing on May 23 in Pittsburgh, Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice, contended she wasn't guilty of any misconduct. She testified that after she received grand jury subpoenas for Curley and Schultz, she allegedly told them, as well as Spanier, that she couldn't be their personal lawyer because she was representing Penn State. Baldwin also asserted that she told the Penn State officials their communication with her wouldn't remain confidential, and that they were free to get outside lawyers to represent them.
"Don't be nervous. Just tell the truth," Baldwin testified that she advised Curley.
Baldwin testified that both Curley and Schultz described a shower incident allegedly witnessed by whistleblower Mike McQueary back in 2001 involving Sandusky and a naked boy as "horseplay." Baldwin also contended that she asked the Penn State officials if they knew of any documents describing that incident that had been requested by a subpoena from the attorney general's office, and that her clients replied that they didn't know about any such documents.
Baldwin testified she felt "duped" when months later, a file kept by Schultz documenting the shower incident involving Sandusky was turned over to investigators.
In court records, Baldwin's former clients, however, tell a different story. They contend that Baldwin did not inform them of the risks of appearing before the grand jury, and misled them about the grand jury's mission. Schultz also stated that he told Baldwin about the file he kept on Sandusky.
Baldwin's former clients contend in affidavits that because of her inept representation, and outright deception about the grand jury's true mission, Baldwin transformed her clients into sitting ducks for Frank Fina.
"Ms. Baldwin informed me that the grand jury investigation focused on Jerry Sandusky, not on me or PSU, and that I was being called purely as a witness," Schultz wrote in an affidavit recently unsealed in Dauphin County. "Ms. Baldwin told me that neither I nor PSU were under investigation," Schultz wrote. "She told me that I could have outside counsel, if I wished, but at that point, seeing all the stories [of the Penn State officials] are consistent, she could represent me, Tim Curley and Joe Paterno as well."
Schultz said he told Baldwin he might have a file on Sandusky still in his office, and that it "might help refresh my memory" to review its contents. But Schultz said that Baldwin told him not to "look for or review any materials."
"Ms. Baldwin also told me that PSU and I were not targets of the investigation and that I would be treated as a witness," Schultz wrote. "There never was any discussion of the Fifth Amendment privilege or the risk of self-incrimination."
"I believed that Ms. Baldwin was representing me in connection with the grand jury proceedings and that she was looking out for my interests," Schulz wrote. "Based on her representations, I did not believe I needed a separate lawyer."
In his affidavit of Oct. 25, 2012, Schultz wrote that Baldwin only told him he needed a separate lawyer "approximately one week before the charges were filed against me."
Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier made similar, disturbing claims about the actions of Baldwin.
In a Jan. 16, 2013 affidavit, Spanier wrote that prior to his grand jury appearance, Baldwin "did not reveal that I had been subpoenaed, and I believed that I was going voluntarily. She did not inform me that Penn State and I were targets of the investigation. As far as I knew, the investigation focused solely on Sandusky."
When Spanier appeared before the grand jury in 2011, "I believed that Ms. Baldwin was representing me during and in connection with the grand jury proceedings and that she was acting in my best interests," Spanier wrote. " Although Ms. Baldwin mentioned that I was entitled to a separate attorney, she did not encourage me to retain one, or explain why I might want one. Based on her representations, I did not believe I needed a separate lawyer."
"On the day of my grand jury testimony, Ms. Baldwin accompanied my swearing in" before the judge, and "stated that she was representing me in connection with my testimony," Spanier wrote. "And I had no reason to think otherwise."
"Ms. Baldwin sat with me in the grand jury room," Spanier wrote. "I was asked by the OAG attorney whether I was represented by counsel. I responded that I was, and identified Ms. Baldwin. She did not say anything."
"Ms. Baldwin first told me that I should retain a separate attorney on Nov. 8, 2011, after Sandusky, Schultz and Curley had been indicted," Spanier wrote. "At no point did I waive my right to confidentiality in my communications with Mrs. Baldwin or otherwise waive attorney-client privilege."
Tomorrow, it will be Fina's turn to answer those charges of misconduct.
In a response to the disciplinary board's accusations, Fina's lawyers, Dennis C. McAndrews and Joseph E. McGettigan 3d, contend that Fina "has not violated any rule of conduct" and they request that the board dismiss the charges against him.
In attempting to extricate Fina from his ethical dilemma and blatant misconduct in flipping the pliable Baldwin, Fina's lawyers resorted to wrapping themselves up in the flag of righteousness in the Sandusky case. They did that by pointing out the jury verdict, the pretrial demonization of Sandusky by a hysterical media, and the actions of pliable judges in the case who kept giving the prosecutors nothing but green lights.
It's like the scene in Animal House, where Otter is confronted before a kangaroo student court with charges that he and his fellow frat brothers at Delta house "broke a few rules or took a few liberties with our female party guests."
"We did," Otter says, winking at Dean Wormer, an admission that Fina's lawyers won't be making tomorrow. Otter then asks the dean and the court if it's fair for them to hold "the whole fraternity system" accountable for the actions of "a few, sick, twisted individuals?"
And if they're going to indict the whole fraternity system, Otter asks, "isn't this an indictment of our educational systems in general," as well as "an indictment of our entire American society?"
"Well," an indignant Otter sniffs, "You can do whatever you want to us, but I for one am not going to stand here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!" Then he and the Deltas march out of the courtroom humming the Star-Spangled Banner.
In their filing, Fina's lawyers describe their client as "instrumental in convicting the most notorious serial child molester in American history." Fina, according to his lawyers, was also "developing evidence that administrators at [Penn State] . . . failed to act in accordance with their legal, professional and/or ethical responsibilities in taking steps to prevent future harm to the children of this Commonwealth by that predator."
The lawyers assert that Fina did nothing improper before the grand jury. To do that, they quote the Louis Freeh report, which has some serious credibility problems, and Judge Feudale, the grand jury judge subsequently removed by the state Supreme Court amid allegations of misconduct and an alleged loss of objectivity.
In remarks quoted by Fina's lawyers, the discredited judge concluded that nothing went wrong in his courtroom after Fina plainly lied to him about what he was planning to do with Baldwin. And that after "a careful review of the testimony of attorney Baldwin before the grand jury," Judge Feudale concluded that "Baldwin's testimony did not [in this court's review] violate any attorney-client or work product privilege."
Never mind those 73 damaging quotes contained in the court transcript.
Fina's defense, as laid out by his lawyers, seems pretty lame. According to our system of justice, every accused defendant, even a serial killer, deserves a lawyer in their corner who would at least tell them if they're the target of a grand jury investigation. Cynthia Baldwin flunked that basic test. And then she went out and sold her clients down the river, behind closed doors in the grand jury, and neglected to tell them about it.
And speaking of Frank Fina, why did he have to lie and cheat and break the rules during that secret grand jury proceeding, where he already had the judge on his side, and he held all the cards?
If his cause was so righteous, why did Frank Fina have to cheat to win?
By Ralph Cipriano
|The Fox Hunting The Fina|
Frank Fina did a slow burn today as a lawyer for the state Supreme Court's disciplinary board and an ethics expert wearing a bow tie took turns attacking Fina as an unethical, and overzealous prosecutor who trampled on the constitutional rights of his targets.
"This is a straight-forward case," Amelia C. Kittredge, counsel to the disciplinary board, told a panel of three lawyers who will decide whether Fina, the lead prosecutor in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case, should be disciplined or disbarred for misconduct during that secret grand jury investigation.
Frank Fina, Kittredge said, "deliberately and recklessly" violated the attorney-client privilege. It happened in 2012, when Fina questioned former Penn State counsel Cynthia Baldwin before a grand jury about confidential information involving three of her former clients who were once top officials at Penn State.
A prosecutor is not only supposed to be an advocate, Kittredge said, but he's also supposed to be a "minister of justice." But Frank Fina, she said, was an unethical lawyer who broke the most "sacred privilege" in the legal world, namely the attorney-client privilege.
In her opening statement outlining the charges against Fina, Kittredge took the disciplinary board through the time line in the case. She talked about how the year after Baldwin became Penn State's general counsel, in 2011, she got hit with three grand jury subpoenas from the state attorney general's office in the Sandusky investigation, targeting retired Penn State vice president Gary Schultz, athletic director Tim Curley, and Coach Joe Paterno.
In January 2011, Schultz and Curley testified before the grand jury on the same day, and both were represented by Baldwin, Kittredge said. Three months later, Baldwin received a subpoena for Penn State President Graham Spanier.
There were "no protests, no qualifications," from Baldwin about any conflicts representing the three Penn State officials, Kittredge said. In November 2011, a grand jury indicted Curley and Schultz. In June 2012, Baldwin left Penn State and then she got served with a subpoena, turning her into a possible target of the investigation.
To explain away her ethical conflicts, Kittredge said, Baldwin claimed she had acted before the grand jury as "an agent of the university," and that she did not represent her former clients personally, "whatever that means," Kittredge said dispargingly.
When Frank Fina appeared before the grand jury on Oct. 22, 2012, he told Judge Barry Feudale that he wanted to call Baldwin as a witness, although he claimed he wouldn't get into any areas of questioning that would violate the attorney-client privilege. During that hearing before the judge, Kittredge said, lawyers for Curley and Schultz, Baldwin's former clients, "astoundingly" were "not present or notified."
According to Rule 3.10 of the Pennsylvania code of conduct for lawyers, Kittredge said, there should have been a hearing before a judge before Baldwin was allowed to testify. And that instead of Fina making the call, it was a judge who should have decided whether Baldwin's testimony would violate the attorney-client privilege.
Rule 3.10 of the Rules of Professional Conduct states: "A public prosecutor or other government lawyer shall not, without prior judicial approval, subpoena an attorney to appear before a grand jury or other tribunal investigating criminal activity in circumstances where the prosecutor or other government lawyer seeks to compel the attorney/witness to provide evidence concerning a person who is or has been represented by the attorney/witness."
Instead of getting the required "prior judicial approval," Kittredge said, Fina just went ahead and did it, while misrepresenting his intentions on what he planned to question Baldwin about. Fina had told the judge that he wasn't going to mess with the attorney-client privilege, to gain any confidential information about the communication between Baldwin and her clients. But what Fina really wanted to do, Kittredge said, was to turn Baldwin into "a witness against her three clients." And that's just what he did.
"Would you ever testify in such a manner against a client," Kittridge asked the panel of lawyers on the disciplinary board. At the grand jury, Kittredge said, Baldwin used that forum to go into a "litany" of complaints against her former clients, while divulging many things that the trio of Penn State administrators had told her in confidence. The topics discussed included what the Penn State officials knew about a couple of shower incidents in 1998 and 2001 involving Jerry Sandusky lathering up with naked boys.
Baldwin also testified about discussions she had with Spanier before his interview with the attorney general's office, and what Spanier knew about the grand jury investigation of Sandusky.
"He lied to me," Kittredge quoted Baldwin as testifying before the grand jury about Spanier. "There is no doubt he lied to me," Baldwin said, adding that Spanier had prior knowledge of accusations against Sandusky, but, Baldwin said, "He tried to hide it from me."
In evoking testimony that breached the attorney-client privilege, Kittredge said, Fina "hoodwinked Judge Feudale" while Baldwin abandoned and betrayed her former clients.
Fina's defense, that Baldwin didn't really represent her former clients, only the university, amounted to "smoke," Kittredge said. Lame attempts "to shore up the defense," and cover up for Fina's "reckless and deceptive" conduct.
At the defense table, Fina, his head bowed, confined his comments to whispers shared with his lawyers. Meanwhile, Baldwin, who is a witness in the case on behalf of Fina, was asked to leave the courtroom before today's proceedings started.
In his opening statement, Dennis C. McAndrews, on behalf of Fina, asserted that the disciplinary board's case amounted to a lot of opinions and a "cherry-picking" of the facts, in an attempt to destroy Fina's "professional life."
Two judges, McAndrews said, on seven different occasions "approved his [Fina's] conduct." And Judge Feudale, "by permitting" the questioning of Baldwin to "go forward," basically amounted to holding a hearing on the matter, and granting his consent.
Judge Feudale, McAndrews said, did not sit there like a "potted plant" when Fina was running the grand jury investigation. The judge heard Fina's argument, and decided to go ahead with the questioning of Baldwin, McAndrews insisted.
"That's the hearing," McAndrews said about the short colloquy between the prosecutor and the judge. McAndrews added that it was "outrageous" for the disciplinary board counsel to contend that Fina had forced Baldwin to testify against her will.
"She wanted to testify," McAndrews said of Baldwin. "Penn State wanted her to testify."
Baldwin felt compelled to disclose that her former clients "had participated in an ongoing criminal conspiracy," McAndrews said, ignoring the fact that no charges of conspiracy have ever been proven in any courtroom against any of those Penn State administrators.
Regardless, Baldwin, McAndrews said, felt she had to "stand up" and call out her former clients, during the secret grand jury proceedings.
"They were lying to her over and over again," McAndrews asserted. While those clients were actually "participating in a cover up" of Sandusky's conduct, McAndrews said, again falling back on allegations never proven in court.
But as far as McAndrews was concerned, Fina was the victim, the disciplinary board was the aggressor, and that the charges against Fina were "defamatory and scandalous."
After opening statements in the case, the first witness Kittredge called was Lawrence Fox, a longtime Philadelphia lawyer who recently joined a New York City law firm, because it was closer to New Haven, where Fox lectures at the Yale University Law School.
Fox, wearing his trademark bowtie, told the disciplinary board he had written nine books on ethics and he had taught legal ethics at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania. Fox testified that his usual hourly fee as an expert was $875, but for the disciplinary board, he had discounted that rate to $450.
During his testimony, Fox teed off on both Baldwin and Fina. Baldwin's betrayal of her clients, Fox said, "left three individuals absurdly unrepresented."
"This is an extraordinary case," Fox said. "She [Baldwin] misled [her clients] into thinking they were represented" by her. And "Mr. Fina stood by and let this happen."
What should have happened, Fox said, was that lawyers for Baldwin's three clients should have had a forum to present their case to Judge Feudale on why Baldwin shouldn't be allowed to testify against them, before Fina was ever allowed to ask the first question of Baldwin.
"One of the saddest situations I've ever seen," Fox said about the allegations of misconduct against Fina and Baldwin. "Those people," Fox said, referring to Baldwin's three former clients, "were in there [the grand jury] without a lawyer. "
Every client, Fox said, is "entitled to one true champion" as their lawyer.
In going forward with the questioning of Baldwin, Fina claimed he was willing to take a risk, but it wasn't his risk to take, Fox said. "He [Fina] then proceeded to invade the [attorney-client] privilege on page after page after page" of the grand jury transcript of Baldwin's testimony, Fox testified.
Fina's lawyers again contended that Judge Feudale fairly considered the issue before giving Fina the go-ahead to question Baldwin. But Fox went back to Rule 3.10 of the rules of professional conduct, which, according to Fox's interpretation of due process, meant what was required was a full hearing before Judge Feudale, which would have included arguments from lawyers representing Baldwin's former clients.
"The rule gets violated by not having a hearing," Fox said. And in the grand jury, Baldwin compounded the legal travesty by proceededing to disparage her clients, Fox said.
"Ms. Baldwin might as well have been giving Mr. Fina's closing argument," Fox said.
On cross-examination, McAndrews brought up some recently unsealed court transcripts, not yet seen by the disciplinary board, where Baldwin, Spanier, Curley and Schultz testified, and the late Dauphin County Judge Tod Hoover supposedly decided that Baldwin had acted ethically, as had Fina.
Fox, after a barrage of questioning, admitted he hadn't yet read the recently unsealed transcripts, but he made it clear he wasn't buying that argument.
Fox described Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice, as a "turncoat lawyer," and then he talked about a judge who was presiding over a "star chamber."
When McAndrews signaled he was ready to end his questioning of Fox, the witness in the bowtie cracked, "Now, don't end with a whimper."
That led to a few more testy exchanges between Fox and Fina's lawyers.
When McAndrews again brought up Judge Feudale's approval of Fina's actions, Fox shot back, "He was absolutely wrong."
Today's hearing had a nasty edge. To the layman, in a room full of lawyers, the proposition that every client deserved a lawyer who would represent them, and not sell them out behind the closed doors of a grand jury proceeding, sure sounded like a reasonable, constitutionally-sound principle, as advanced by Fox, the Yale lecturer with the yellow bow tie.
But Fina's lawyers treated Fox with open contempt, and were often seen laughing and smirking at his answers. During cross-examination, McAndrews frequently cut off Fox, as well as loudly and arrogantly admonished the ethics expert for interrupting the defense lawyer. During a break, one of Fina's lawyers was overheard describing Fox to a reporter as "a loser," and making jokes to a defense witness in the case about the effectiveness of Fox's testimony.
Fina's lawyers were also openly contemptuous of the disciplinary board's lawyer, to the point where they challenged many court transcripts she sought to enter into the record on procedural grounds, such as the documents hadn't allegedly been authenticated, or allegedly were either hearsay or irrelevant.
Fina's lawyers contended that Baldwin's former clients, Penn State president Graham Spanier, as well as Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, were sophisticated individuals who should have known that Baldwin was not really representing them before the grand jury, but that her true client was the university.
But to the layman, Fox made a lot of sense when he argued that many so-called "masters of the universe," such as Spanier the high-powered university president, were exactly the type of clients who most needed the counsel of their lawyers, as they were typically ignorant of how the legal system works. And they also weren't fully aware of what kind of jeopardy they were exposing themselves to.
It was Baldwin's job, Fox said, to take charge of her clients' defense in the attorney general's investigation, and explain to her clients how the system works, what their rights were, and what legal risks they were taking.
But it was an argument that was met with smirks, laughs and derision by Fina's lawyers. Like their client, Fina's lawyers seemed to share the opinion that during the former prosecutor's momentous crusade against the official enablers of the most notorious pedophile in the history of America, that there was no time to waste debating whether the constitutional rights of Fina's targets were being trampled on.
Because Frank Fina the all-knowing and all-seeing prosecutor, had already figured out who the bad guys were. And he had also decided that he was above the most basic rules of fair play.
Fina's hearing is scheduled to continue on July 27 and July 31. Waiting in the courtroom to testify on behalf of Fina were Baldwin and Ron Castille, the retired chief justice of the state Supreme Court, last seen laughing and joking with Fina's lawyers.
By Ralph Cipriano
The state Superior Court, in a split, 2-1 decision, yesterday denied an appeal by Graham Spanier, the former president of Penn State University, who was seeking to overturn his conviction last year on a single count of endangering the welfare of a child.
In denying Spanier's appeal, the state Superior Court repeatedly cited the Commonwealth v. Lynn a total of 34 times in 29 pages, as in the case against Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former secretary for clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
In the Pennsylvania courts, the Commonwealth v. Lynn now stands as legal precedent. In real life, however, the case is a scandalous embarrassment to law enforcement, as it involves a fake victim, "Billy Doe," AKA Danny Gallagher, dubbed the "lying, scheming altar boy" in a cover story by Newsweek.
Gallagher's been exposed in court as a lying fraud according to a 12-page affidavit filed by Joe Walsh, the D.A.'s own lead detective who investigated the case. According to the detective's affidavit, he repeatedly warned the lead prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, that his investigation revealed that Gallagher's multiple claims of abuse weren't credible when he falsely claimed to have been raped by two priests and a schoolteacher. Indeed, the detective said that in private, Gallagher even confessed to the detective that he made up many of his wildest claims of abuse. But according to the detective, Assistant District Attorney Sorensen repeatedly ignored him, saying, "You're killing my case."
It also should matter that the grandstanding D.A. who brought the fraudulent case against Msgr. Lynn, Rufus Seth Williams, has since been exposed in federal court as a corrupt politician who took bribes, did favors for criminals, committed extortion, and sold his office in exchange for goods such as a chocolate-colored $3,000 custom couch from Raymour & Flanigan, free vacations in Punta Cana, and a beat-up 1997 XK8 Jaguar convertible that was usually in the shop.
Philadelphia's former top law enforcement official, who used to spend his time smoking cigars at the Union League, now wears a jump suit and sits in protective custody in a federal prison in Oklahoma, doing four years for a litany of 29 crimes that he pleaded guilty to, including stealing from his own mother.
In the real world, those facts might matter. But in the make believe world of Pennsylvania's court system, propped up by a corrupt media, the case of the Commonwealth v. Lynn lives on as a milestone in the crusade against sex abuse. Yesterday, it served as the bedrock of the state Superior Court's opinion that denied Spanier's appeal.
In their decision, the state Superior Court ruled that Spanier, like Lynn, owed a "duty of care," as he was supervising the welfare of a child, and that Spanier failed in his duty to protect children from convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky.
That's what the court said yesterday. But the truth is that just like in the case of Lynn, the state's original child endangerment law never really applied to supervisors such as Spanier.
Who said so? Why, this same state Superior Court which previously overturned Lynn's conviction in 2013. In that decision, the state Superior Court ruled that the state's original child endangerment law did not apply to supervisors such as Lynn, but then the grandstanding state Supreme Court came along, overturned the Superior Court's reversal of the Lynn conviction in 2015, and made some bad case law that came back to haunt Spanier.
"The facts before us establish that [Spanier], a university president, supervised his school's response to repeated allegations of on-campus abuse of a minor by a high-status former employee with access to campus facilities," the Superior Court opinion said yesterday about Jerry Sandusky. "He [Spanier] was clearly supervising a child's welfare pursuant to Lynn."
The facts, however, tell another story. The state's original 1972 child endangerment law said: "A parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if he knowingly endangers the welfare of a child by violating a duty of care, protection or support."
For nearly 40 years in Pennsylvania, that law applied only to adults who were in direct contact with a child, such as a parent, guardian or teacher who "knowingly endangers the welfare of a child."
In 2005, then Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham and a grand jury concluded that the original child endangerment law did not apply to Msgr. Lynn, Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, or any other high-ranking official of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who had a supervisory role. The grand jury was investigating four decades of sex abuse and church cover ups in the archdiocese. It issued a report that said although it wanted to, it could not legally indict Lynn or Bevilacqua for the crime of endangering the welfare of a child because the law didn't apply to supervisors.
D.A. Abraham then led a state-wide crusade to change the law, and the state legislature complied, amending the law in 2007 to include supervisors. But Rufus Seth Williams came along in 2011 and decided, without any explanation, that in order to grab some headlines, the original child endangerment law did apply to supervisors.
After the state Superior Court overturned Lynn's conviction, the state Supreme Court intervened on Rufus's behalf, upholding his twisted interpretation of the law. How did the Supremes do it? By going back in time to 1972 and clairvoyantly reinterpreting the original intentions of the state legislature when they passed the original child endangerment law. To say they originally intended to include supervisors, or anybody who was in a role supervising the welfare of children.
If so, then why did the state legislature have to amend the law in 2007 to specifically include supervisors? If so, why didn't Lynne Abraham and the grand jury indict Cardinal Bevilacqua for endangering the welfare of a child, in addition to Msgr. Lynn?
But the bad case law lives on. In the Lynn case, the state Superior Court yesterday wrote, "the defendant was a 'high-ranking official in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia" who was 'specifically responsible for protecting children from sexually abusive priests.' Our Supreme Court concluded that sufficient evidence supported Lynn's conviction even though he did not directly supervise any children."
"Here, as in Lynn, [Spanier] occupied a position of high authority with respect to the site of the alleged abuse," the Superior Court said yesterday. "Here, as in Lynn, [Spanier] oversaw his institution's response . . . [Spanier], like the defendant in Lynn, had sufficient information and authority to take action. Indeed, he was uniquely positioned to do so."
The 2-1 opinion upholding Spanier's conviction was written by Judge Victor P. Stabile, and joined by Judge Carolyn H. Nichols. In a dissenting opinion, Judge Lillian Harris Ransom said that the Commonwealth violated Spanier's rights by failing to inform him of its intent to rely on an exception to the statute of limitations at a reasonable time before trial.
There's a two-year statute of limitations on the crime of endangering the welfare of a child. The crime that Spanier was accused of ignoring, the alleged 2001 rape in the showers of a 10-year boy by Jerry Sandusky, as allegedly witnessed by Mike McQueary, was long past the statue when the Commonwealth in 2012 charged Spanier.
To get around the statute of limitations, the Commonwealth claimed that Spanier and other Penn State administrators were involved in a continuing course of conduct, namely a conspiracy to cover up the shower incident, and that's why they could charge Spanier with endangering the welfare of a child.
But a jury in the Spanier case found no conspiracy and no continuing course of conduct. In her dissenting opinion, Judge Ransom found that Spaneir should have reported the 2001 shower incident to the Department of Welfare and the police, which he didn't do. "Accordingly, he [Spanier] violated a duty of care owed to the child victim in the 2001 incident," Judge Ransom wrote. But she also found the state at fault regarding the statute of limitations.
Here, in the Penn State case, we come to another phantom victim of sexual abuse.
But the alleged victim never came forward, and, according to the prosecutors, was known "only to God." McQueary wrote that he never saw any such anal rape. And all the people that the grand jury presentment claimed McQueary had told his story to, about the anal rape, subsequently came forward to deny that in court.
Even McQueary disagreed with the grand jury report, writing in an email to the lead prosecutor and investigator that they had "slightly twisted" his words. "I cannot say 1000 percent sure that it was sodomy. I did not see insertion," McQueary wrote. "It was a sexual act and or way over the line in my opinion whatever it was."
But in Pennsylvania, a phantom victim of sex abuse and a phony claim of anal rape is all an unscrupulous prosecutor needs to grab headlines and win convictions.
We're talking about Frank Fina, the former lead prosecutor on the Sandusky case, who has been brought up on misconduct charges before the disciplinary board of the state Supreme Court. Fina's case continues next month.
In the case of unscrupulous prosecutors such as Fina, Rufus Seth Williams and Mariana Sorensen, it also helps if the media plays along, and never looks below the surface.
In her dissenting opinion, Judge Ransom writes that the Commonwealth "employs a rather tortured argument" to suggest that Spanier's failure to report Sandusky was a "continuing course of conduct," and that his failure to act "created an ongoing danger to any child brought on the campus or encountered by Sandusky."
"The Commonwealth has introduced no additional evidence to show that [Spanier] was aware of any incidents involving Sandusky after 2001, nor his active involvement in any further actions involving Sandusky," Judge Ransom wrote. "Accordingly, the course of conduct exception is incapable as a mater of law, where [Spanier] endangered the welfare of a child by failing to report suspected child abuse, and where the charges are not brought within the statue of limitations."
"The Commonwealth supplies no additional authority to support the contention that we should expand the [endangering the welfare of a child] statute of limitations in such a manner, and I can find none," Judge Ransom wrote. "Accordingly, based on the above, I cannot agree" that the statue of limitations should have extended in Spanier's case, and "I would reverse [Spanier's] conviction and vacate his judgment of sentence."
Spanier was given a sentence of 4 to 12 months, with at least two months to be served in jail. His sentence has been suspended pending his appeal. Spanier's lawyers are expected to appeal the state Superior Court's decision to the state Supreme court.
For more on the topic of the Superior Court's "tortured reasoning:
Ray Blehar: http://notpsu.blogspot.com/2018/06/court-used-tortured-reasoning-to-uphold.html