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Articles on this Page
- 06/28/18--14:00: _As His Case Heads F...
- 06/30/18--07:23: _Confidential Intern...
- 07/01/18--10:58: _Meek Mill Judge: D....
- 07/02/18--13:43: _'CLOSE HOLD -- Impo...
- 07/11/18--06:40: _Spanier Seeks Recus...
- 07/14/18--06:30: _What's Skinny Joey ...
- 08/01/18--17:03: _A Slime-Fest At Fra...
- 08/11/18--05:47: _What Conflict, Judg...
- 08/14/18--11:24: _Easy Money In The S...
- 08/24/18--07:27: _Should AG's Catholi...
- 09/15/18--18:20: _Philly's Looming DR...
- 10/02/18--08:33: _Did Brett Kavanaugh...
- 10/08/18--10:46: _The Sad Story Of So...
- 10/19/18--07:10: _Mobsters And Music
- 10/25/18--13:28: _Old Notes Show That...
- 11/03/18--11:27: _The Return Of Vincenzo
- 11/04/18--04:18: _Newsweek: D.A. Brok...
- 11/11/18--07:33: _What's PSU Presiden...
- 06/28/18--14:00: As His Case Heads For Retrial, Msgr. Lynn Holds A Trump Card
- 06/30/18--07:23: Confidential Internal Review Shreds Louis Freeh Report
- 07/01/18--10:58: Meek Mill Judge: D.A. Abdicated His Responsibility
- 07/11/18--06:40: Spanier Seeks Recusal Of Judge For Undisclosed Conflict
- 07/14/18--06:30: What's Skinny Joey Doing Hanging With Robert De Niro?
- 08/01/18--17:03: A Slime-Fest At Frank Fina's Final Disciplinary Board Hearing
- 08/11/18--05:47: What Conflict, Judge Says
- 08/14/18--11:24: Easy Money In The Sandusky Case: Penn State Not Minding The Store
- 08/24/18--07:27: Should AG's Catholic Grand Jury Report Run On The History Channel?
- 09/15/18--18:20: Philly's Looming DROP Apocalypse
- 10/02/18--08:33: Did Brett Kavanaugh Grope Christine Ford?
- 10/08/18--10:46: The Sad Story Of Sonny D, The Mob, And Some Missing $Millions
- 10/19/18--07:10: Mobsters And Music
- 10/25/18--13:28: Old Notes Show That Billy Doe Only Wanted $$$, But D.A. Hid Evidence
- 11/03/18--11:27: The Return Of Vincenzo
- 11/04/18--04:18: Newsweek: D.A. Broke The Law On Plea Bargains In Murder Cases
- 11/11/18--07:33: What's PSU President Barron Hiding? Big Trial Knows!
By Ralph Cipriano
The state Superior Court today cleared the way for a retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn by rejecting an appeal to toss the case against him because of intentional prosecutorial misconduct and double jeopardy.
The monsignor, however, did score one legal victory. In a separate decision, the Superior Court ruled in Lynn's favor to limit the number of supplemental cases of sex abuse that can be introduced as evidence at a retrial, to show a pattern spanning decades of covering up sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The Superior Court's two opinions issued today mean that both sides can proceed with the sequel in their long-running grudge match, once again starring Detective Joe Walsh. Only this time around, Walsh, the D.A.'s former ace lead detective on the case, will be testifying on behalf of the defendant, about prosecutorial misconduct in the D.A.'s office.
Besides Walsh, there's one big difference between the first and second trials of Msgr. Lynn. Today, a three-judge panel for the state Superior Court said they looked for but could not find "a single instance" of intentional prosecutorial misconduct. But in the retrial, Lynn's lawyers are holding a trump card that they may soon flash to trial Judge Gwendolyn Bright -- newly discovered evidence of intentional prosecutorial misconduct that's a slam-dunk. It's seven pages of prosecutor's notes that the D.A.'s office repeatedly told three different judges over the years didn't exist, only to have those notes mysteriously reappear eight years later, on the eve of a retrial. If the state Superior Court was looking for conclusive evidence of intentional prosecutorial misconduct, Lynn's lawyers have got the goods.
At his original trial in 2012, Lynn, the archdiocese's secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, was convicted on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, and sentenced to 3 to 6 years in jail.
He served 33 out of 36 months of his minimum sentence, plus 18 months of house arrest. His conviction, however, was overturned twice on appeal by the same Superior Court that ruled today for a third time on the same case. The first time the state Superior Court overturned Lynn's conviction, in 2013, the state Supreme Court came back in 2015 to overrule the Superior Court, and reinstate Lynn's conviction. The Superior Court in 2016 then decided to overturn the monsignor's conviction for a second time.
Detective Walsh came forward last year to testify that he had repeatedly questioned the star witness against Lynn, former altar boy Danny Gallagher, about numerous factual discrepancies in his various claims of abuse. And that during a pre-trial prep session, Walsh testified, Gallagher either didn't respond to his questions, claimed he was high on drugs, or entertained the skeptical detective with new stories of abuse.
Gallagher had falsely claimed that he was raped by two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher, telling many different versions of the imaginary crime spree. Some of those tales are transparently ridiculous; others are contradicted by other witnesses in the case. They include teachers, priests and nuns at St. Jerome's Church in Northeast Philly, where Gallagher claimed to have been repeatedly victimized in an unprecedented fashion [three rapists conspiring with each other to pass around the hapless altar boy like a piñata] as well as members of Gallagher's own family, who also contradicted Danny Boy's tall tales.
None of the results of Walsh's grilling of Gallagher were reported to the defense. That prompted Judge Bright to rule it was prosecutorial conduct serious enough to warrant a new trial for Lynn, if the state Superior Court, in a previous 2016 ruling, had not already granted the monsignor a new trial. But, Judge Bright ruled, the D.A.'s machinations didn't amount to intentional prosecutorial misconduct, which would have led the judge to blow out the case.
The Superior Court agreed.
"At the conclusion of the hearings, the trial court found that while the Commonwealth failed to provide Lynn with certain aspects of Detective Walsh's investigation, there was no evidence this failure constituted misconduct severe enough to warrant dismissal of Lynn's charges," the Superior Court wrote in a 16-page opinion authored by Judge Jack A. Panella.
The Superior Court also agreed that the D.A.'s office, under Rufus Seth Williams, was not guilty of "intentional prosecutorial misconduct," Judge Panella wrote, which would justified throwing out the case on the grounds of double jeopardy.
Here we come to the crucial part of today's Superior Court decision.
"We are unable to find a single instance during the multiple hearings on the mater where Lynn produced evidence of the Commonwealth's intent in withholding this information," the Superior Court opinion states. "It is not clear that the prosecution was even aware of the content of Detective Walsh's witness preparation interview."
"While this does not excuse the Commonwealth from performing their duties under Brady," the Superior Court wrote. The court was referring to the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case of Maryland v. Brady, which established that prosecutors have a duty to turn over any evidence that might benefit a defendant."It certainly undermines the assertion that the Commonwealth intentionally withheld the content of the witness preparation interview," the Superior Court concluded.
Lynn's lawyers had asserted that the D.A.'s office acted "intentionally and in bad faith" by placing a witness on the stand "who it alone knew would lie," the Superior Court wrote. But the Superior Court panel of judges found that "inconsistencies in evidence . . . do not equate to the introduction false evidence."
Whether Danny Gallagher is a flaming liar is an issue "solely for the jury to evaluate as to credibility," the Superior Court wrote. As to whether Assistant District Attorney Sorensen knowingly presented false evidence," the Superior Court wrote, there is no evidence of that because, according to Detective Walsh, Sorensen "repeatedly told him she believed" Gallagher's testimony.
"We will not disturb this determination," the judges wrote.
But now that the case is going to be retried, Lynn's lawyers are free to disturb this determination.
They can start by calling retired Detective Walsh to the stand, and have him testify about what a lying dirtbag Danny Gallagher is. Walsh can also testify about Assistant District Attorney Sorensen's costuming hatred of the church, and her blind, single-minded zealotry in the crusade to bag Msgr. Lynn as the designated fall guy for the sins of the archdiocese against children spanning four decades.
And then, Lynn's lawyers can introduce that compelling, newly evidence of intentional prosecutorial misconduct we spoke of earlier --- seven pages of notes typed by Sorensen on Jan. 28, 2010. That's the day Sorensen and Detective Drew Snyder interviewed Gallagher, along with Gallagher's parents, at the D.A.'s office. The interview took place right after Snyder had bailed that ne'er-do-well Danny Gallagher out of jail, so the D.A. could audition the third-rate conman for a starring role in their witch hunt they were about to stage against the monsignor and the church.
Defense lawyers say those notes should have been turned over at two previous criminal trials, where three priests and a former schoolteacher were sent to jail for the alleged repeated rapes of Danny Gallagher. The notes are the latest evidence of prosecutorial misconduct in a case replete with it; they also could be the death knell for the prosecution.
At Lynn's original trial, the trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, allowed the prosecution to introduce into evidence 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse dating back to 1948, three years before the monsignor was born, to show it was business as usual in the archdiocese to cover up sex abuse.
The 21 supplemental cases, however, were the reason why the state Superior Court overturned Lynn's original conviction in 2016. The appeals court ruled that the prejudicial effect of the supplemental cases far outweighed their evidentiary value. And that Judge Sarmina had abused her discretion by letting the prosecution essentially put Lynn on trial for the previous sins of the archdiocese against children dating back to 1948.
In hearings before the retrial of the case, Judge Gwendolyn Bright ruled that prosecutors could introduce as evidence only three supplemental cases of sex abuse. The D.A.'s office had requested that nine such cases be introduced as evidence, but today, the Superior Court upheld Judge Bright's pretrial ruling.
The supplemental cases of sex abuse allowed by Judge Bright involve three notorious clerical offenders with a total of at least 35 alleged victims between them -- Fathers Robert Brennan, Nicholas Cudemo, and Michael Bolesta.
"Because we find no error in the trial court's determination that the six excluded instances of other acts of evidence were marginally probative but highly prejudicial, we cannot find the the trial court abused its discretion excluding these instances," the Superior Court wrote in upholding Judge Bright's ruling.
By Ralph Cipriano
A confidential internal review of the Louis Freeh Report on the Penn State sex abuse scandal, conducted by the university's own trustees, found factual mistakes, "deeply flawed" methodology, and faulty opinions that Freeh's own staffers took issue with.
The trustees also accused Freeh of having a conflict of interest in his dealings with the NCAA.
It was the Freeh Report that the NCAA relied upon in 2012 to impose draconian sanctions on Penn State, including a $60 million fine, a bowl game ban that lasted two years, the loss of 170 athletic scholarships and the elimination of 111 of Joe Paterno's wins, although the wins were subsequently restored.
On Friday, a group of 11 trustees called on the full 38-member board to release the full 200-page critique of the 267-page Freeh Report, formally renounce Freeh's findings, and try to recoup some of the $8.3 million that the university paid Freeh.
"I want to put the document in your hands so you can read it yourself, but I can't do that today," said Alice Pope, a trustee and St. John's University professor about the internal review of the Freeh report.
But the materials that Pope and six other trustees had to sue the university to obtain are still under seal according to a 2015 court order. And the university's lawyers have recently advised the 11 minority trustees that the report they worked on for two years remains privileged and confidential, and out of reach of the public.
So yesterday, Pope called on the full board to release the 200-page report as early as their next meeting, on July 20th. But chances are slim and none that the board's chairman, Mark Dambly, and other majority board members will ever willingly open Pandora's box. They don't want to reveal to the public the facts that have cost the university millions of dollars in legal fees to keep buried for the past six years. Facts will present further evidence of just how badly the trustees, Louie Freeh, and the attorney general's office throughly botched the Penn State investigation.
The full board of trustees, Pope noted yesterday, never voted to formally adopt the findings of the Freeh Report, which found that Penn State officials had covered up the sex crimes of Jerry Sandusky.
"Rather, the board adopted a don't act, don't look and don't tell policy" Pope said that amounted to a "tacit acceptance of the Freeh Report." A report that Pope said has resulted in "profound reputational harm to our university along with $300 million in costs so far."
In addition to the $60 million in fines, the university's board of trustees has -- while doing little or no investigating -- paid out a minimum of $118 million to 36 alleged victims of sex abuse, in addition to spending more than $80 million in legal fees, and $50 million to institute new reforms aimed at preventing future abuse.
That internal 200-page report and the materials it draws upon may still be privileged and confidential, But Big Trial has obtained a seven-page "Executive Summary of Findings" of that internal review dated Jan. 8, 2017, plus an attached 25-page synopsis of evidence gleaned from those confidential files still under court seal.
According to the executive summary, "Louis Freeh and his team disregarded the preponderance of the evidence" in concluding there was a cover up at Penn State of Jerry Sandusky's crimes.
"Louis Freeh and his team knowingly provided a false conclusion in stating that the alleged coverup was motivated by a desire to protect the football program and a false culture that overvalued football and athletics," the executive summary states.
According to the executive summary, the trustees faulted Freeh and his investigators for their "willingness . . . to be led by media narratives," as well as "an over reliance on unreliable sources," such as former Penn State Counsel Cynthia Baldwin.
Freeh, the executive summary states, also relied on "deeply flawed" procedures for interviewing witnesses. The interviews conducted by Freeh's investigators weren't done under oath, or subpoenas, and they weren't tape-recorded, the executive summary wrote. That led to "biased reporting of interview data" and "inaccurate summaries" of witness testimony.
At yesterday's press conference, Pope said the 11 trustees wanted to know the degree of cooperation Freeh's team had with the NCAA and the state attorney general's office during their investigations. According to statecollege.com, state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman has previously stated that the coordination between Freeh and the NCAA during the Penn State investigation was at best inappropriate, and at worst "two parties working together to get a predetermined outcome."
In the executive summary, the trustees cited "interference in Louis Freeh's investigation by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, wherein information gathered in the criminal investigations of Penn State officials was improperly (and perhaps illegally) shared with Louis Freeh and his team."
This is a subject Big Trial will explore in a subsequent blog post. But earlier this year, I wrote to Louis Freeh, and asked if he and his team was authorized to have access to grand jury secrets. He declined comment.
Yesterday, Freeh issued a statement that ripped the minority trustees. "Since 2015," he wrote, "these misguided alumni have been fighting a rear-guard action to turn the clocks back and to resist the positive changes which the PSU students and faculty have fully embraced." He concluded that despite criticism of his report by the minority trustees, to date, they have produced "no report, no facts, news and no credible evidence" that have damaged the credibility of his investigation.
But in the executive summary, the trustees blasted Freeh for having an alleged conflict of interest with the NCAA, and they cited some credible evidence to prove it.
"Louis Freeh's conflict of interest in pursuing future investigative assignments with the NCAA during his contracted period of working for Penn State," the executive summary states, "provided motivation for forming conclusions consistent with the NCAA's goals to enhance their own reputation by being tough on Penn State."
In a criminal manner, such as the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia investigation, the NCAA had no legal standing. But the NCAA justified its intervention in the case by finding that a lack of institutional control on Penn State's part opened the door to the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal.
In their synopsis of evidence, the trustees relied on internal Freeh Group emails that showed that while Freeh was finishing up his investigation of Penn State, he was angling for his group to become the "go to investigators" for the NCAA.
On July 7, 2012, a week before the release of the Freeh Report on Penn State, Omar McNeill, a senior investigator for Freeh, wrote to Freeh and a partner of Freeh's. "This has opened up an opportunity to have the dialogue with [NCAA President Mark] Emmert about possibly being the go to internal investigator for the NCAA," McNeill wrote. "It appears we have Emmert's attention now."
In response, Freeh wrote back, "Let's try to meet with him and make a deal -- a very good cost contract to be the NCAA's 'go to investigators' -- we can even craft a big discounted rate given the unique importance of such a client. Most likely he will agree to a meeting -- if he does not ask for one first."
A spokesman for Freeh could not immediately be reached for comment.
At yesterday's press conference, Pope also raised the issue of a separate but concurrent federal investigation conducted on the Penn State campus in 2012 by Special Agent John Snedden. The federal investigation, made public last year, but completely ignored by the mainstream media, reached the opposite conclusion that Freeh and the attorney general did, that there was no official cover up at Penn State.
Pope stated she wanted to know more about the discrepancies between the parallel investigations that led to polar opposite conclusions.
Back in 2012, Snedden, a former NCIS special agent working as a special agent for the Federal Investigative Services [FIS], was assigned to determine whether Spanier deserved to have a high-level national security clearance renewed. During his investigation, Snedden placed Spanier under oath and questioned him for eight hours. Snedden also interviewed many other witnesses on the Penn State campus, including Cynthia Baldwin, who told him that Spanier was a "man of integrity."
About six months after Baldwin told Spanier this, she flipped, and appeared in a secret grand jury proceeding to not only testify against Spanier, but also against former Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley, and former Penn State Vice President Gary Schultz.
Baldwin, who had previously represented Spanier, Curley and Schultz before the grand jury, testified last month before the disciplinary board of the state Supreme Court, where she has been brought up on misconduct charges for allegedly violating the attorney-client privilege.
After his investigation, Special Agent Snedden concluded in a 110-page report that Spanier had done nothing wrong, and that there was no coverup at Penn State.
That's because, according to Snedden, Mike McQueary, the alleged whistleblower in the case, was an unreliable witness who told many different conflicting stories about an alleged incident in the Penn State showers where McQueary saw Jerry Sandusky with a naked 10-year-old boy. "Which story do you believe?" Snedden told Big Trial last year.
In his grand jury testimony, McQueary said his observations of Sandusky were based on one or two "glances" that lasted only "one or two seconds," glances relating to an incident at least eight years previous. But in the hands of the attorney general's fiction writers, those glances of "one or two seconds" became an anal rape of a child, conclusively witnessed by McQueary.
But the alleged victim of the shower rape never came forward, and, according to the prosecutors, his identity was known "only to God." Days after the presentment, McQueary wrote in an email to the attorney general's office that they had "slightly twisted his words" and, "I cannot say 1000 percent sure that it was sodomy. I did not see insertion."
On top of that, all the witnesses the grand jury presentment claimed that McQueary reported to them "what he had seen," the alleged anal rape of a 10-year-old boy, plus another witness cited by McQueary, a doctor who was a longtime family friend, have all repeatedly denied in court that McQueary ever told them that he witnessed an anal rape.
Freeh concluded that there had been a cover up. His report also found a “striking lack of empathy for child abuse victims by the most senior leaders of the university,” which included Spanier, who had repeatedly been severely beaten by his father as a child, requiring several operations as an adult. Freeh also found that Spanier, Paterno, along with Schultz, the former Penn State vice president and Curley, the school’s ex-athletic director, “repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities.”
According to those records, Freeh's own staff reviewed a May 21, 2012 draft of the Freeh Report, which was subsequently turned over to Penn State officials. The lead paragraph of the draft said, “At the time of the alleged sexual assaults by Jerry Sandusky, there was a culture and environment in the Penn State Athletic Department that led staff members to fail to identify or act on observed inappropriate conduct by Sandusky.”
But when the state police interviewed that janitor, Jim Calhoun, he stated three times that it wasn’t Sandusky he had seen sexually abusing a boy. [The state police didn’t ask Calhoun who was the alleged assailant.] At Sandusky’s trial, however, the jury convicted the ex-coach of that crime, in part because his defense lawyer never told the jury about the janitor’s interview with the state police.
In a written statement, Freeh confirmed that the person who wrote “NO EVIDENCE AT ALL!” was one of his guys.
"Throughout the review at the Pennsylvania State University, members of the Freeh team were encouraged to speak freely and to challenge any factual assertions that they believed are not supported," Freeh wrote on Jan. 10, 2018.
"Indeed the factual assertions of the report were tested and vetted over a period of many months and, as new evidence was uncovered, some of the factual assertions and conclusions evolved," he wrote. "Our staff debated, refined and reformed our views even in the final hours before the report's release."
In another handwritten note on the draft of the report, somebody wrote that there was "no evidence" to support Freeh's contention that a flawed football culture was to blame for the Sandusky sex scandal.
"Freeh knew the evidence did not support this," the executive summary says. But in his final report, Freeh wrote about "A culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community."
On March 7, 2012, in a conference call, Kathleen McChesney, a former FBI agent who was one of Freeh’s senior investigators, noted that they had found “no smoking gun to indicate [a] cover-up.”
In that email chain, conducted over Penn State’s own computer system, the administrators discussed confronting Sandusky about his habit of showering with children at Penn State facilities, and telling him to stop, rather than report him to officials at The Second Mile, as well as the state Department of Public Welfare.
In the email chain, Curley described the strategy as a “more humane approach” that included an offer to provide Sandusky with counseling. Spanier agreed, but wrote, “The only downside for us if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon [by Sandusky] and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it.”
Curley subsequently told Sandusky to stop bringing children into Penn State facilities, and informed officials at The Second Mile about the 2001 shower incident witnessed by McQueary. But Penn State didn’t inform the state Department of Public Welfare about Sandusky, which Freeh claimed was the smoking gun.
Also, an earlier 1998 shower incident, referred to by Freeh, was also investigated by multiple authorities, who found no crime, nor any evidence of sex abuse.
In their executive report, the trustees refer to the allegations of a cover up as "unfounded." Freeh, however, maintained that in the six years since he issued his report, its findings have been repeatedly validated in court.
"The Freeh team's investigative interviews and fact-finding were not biased and no outcome was ever predetermined," Freeh wrote. "Their only mandate, to which they adhered, was to follow the evidenced wherever it led. The final report I issued is a reflection of this mandate."
"The accuracy and sustainability of the report is further evidenced by the criminal convictions of Spanier, Schultz, Curley," Freeh wrote. Other developments that verified the conclusions of his report, Freeh wrote, include "voluntary dismissals by the Paterno Family of their suit against the NCAA, Spanier's dismissal of his defamation suit against Freeh, the jury and court findings in the McQueary defamation and whistleblower cases, and the U.S. Department of Education's five-year investigation resulting in a record fine against Penn State."
By Ralph Cipriano
A judge last week ripped District Attorney Larry Krasner for not doing his homework in the Meek Mill case.
According to a startling, 47-page order and opinion issued by Common Pleas Court Judge Genece Brinkley, in jumping on the bandwagon to free Meek Mill, the office now run by Progressive Larry was "abdicating its responsibility to conduct a review of this case."
Progressive Larry was already down with the plan to let the rapper out of jail, vacate his prior conviction and grant him a new trial. But the judge wrote that she remained "unconvinced" that Mill's conviction should be overturned, "considering the obvious lack of investigation and review" emanating from the D.A.'s office. So the judge denied the newly freed rapper's request for a new trial.
According to the judge, when Progressive Larry latches onto a cause, as in the Meek Mill case, he doesn't let logic or facts, or the duties of his office, get in the way of his emotions. And he didn't let an apparent conflict of interest bother him either.
In her order and opinion, the judge also gave citizens a frightening look inside the assembly line now being run out of the public defender's office, where, with the full cooperation of the D.A., hundreds of drug dealers are getting free passes out of jail right here in the cradle of liberty. It's law enforcement progressive-style, where the goal is to free as many criminals as possible, so they imperil the rest of us.
As a public service, the judge, in her order and opinion, provided readers with a blow-by-blow account of her embarrassing examination of Assistant District Attorney Liam Riley, who was representing his boss in court, and championing the cause to free Meek.
The judge began by asking Riley a simple question.
Before you put your stamp of approval on Meek's petition for a new trial, the judge wanted to know, did you ever speak to any of the arresting officers? The cops who on Jan. 23, 2007, after running an undercover operation, observed the artist formerly known as Robert Williams, at the corner of 22nd and Jackson Streets, selling crack cocaine to a confidential police informant?
The Judge: "Now, for the D.A.'s office, so that the record is complete with regard to all of these stipulations, before you entered into these stipulations, Mr. Riley, did you subpoena or speak to retired Police Officer Reginald Graham?"
ADA Riley: "I did not, Your Honor."
The Judge: "Did you subpoena or speak to his lawyer, Mr. Abdul-Rahman?"
ADA Riley: "I did not, Your Honor."
The Judge: "Did you subpoena or speak to Police Officer Sonya Jones, who conducted the undercover surveillance with Police Officer Graham back on Jan. 23, 2007?"
ADA Riley: "No, I did not, Your Honor."
The Judge: "Did you subpoena or speak to Officer James Johnson, or any of the other back-up officers involved in the paperwork on Jan. 24, 2007?"
ADA Riley: "No, I did not, Your Honor . . ."
The Judge: "Did you speak to anyone at the FBI regarding their investigation of retired Police Officer Reginald Graham before you agreed to anew trial in this case? That happened on April 16th."
ADA Riley: "I did not speak to him, Your Honor."
The Judge: OK. Did you subpoena or speak to retired federal prosecutor Curtis Douglas?"
ADA Riley: "I did not."
The Judge: "Did you actually review any of the 302 investigation reports of the federal government involving Police Officer Jett, who was one of the police officers involved in the arrest?"
ADA Riley: "I cannot say I reviewed the 302s, Your Honor. I am one of a number of people who have worked on these police misconduct investigations overall. So there -- I'm sure people in our office have."
The Judge: "OK, well your name is on everything that was submitted."
ADA Riley: "Correct, Your Honor, I'm clear I did not do that at all."
Now that should give every citizen about the way Progressive Larry the ideologue is handling the duties of his office.
In her 47-page opus, the judge recounted what happened after the undercover officers observed Williams selling crack cocaine to a confidential informant. When Williams saw the cops, he rode away on a dirt bike.
The very next day, the cops watched Williams make another drug sale to another confidential informant. According to the judge, when the cops confronted him, Williams responded by pointing a loaded gun at the officers before he took off running.
In a subsequent search of his home, after his arrest, according to the judge, the police discovered "13 red packets and 13 clear jars with purple tops of marijuana, 128 grams of marijuana in a clear Ziploc baggy, and $6,808 in U.S. currency."
The cops were just getting started.
"From the dining room table, police discovered 6 grams of marijuana and a black gun holster," the judge wrote. "From the basement police recovered 11 grams of crack cocaine in one clear baggy, and a black bag that contained 213 grams of marijuana, as well as a variety of drug paraphernalia, including razor blades covered in white powdery residue, new and used clear plastic packets, clear jars with purple tops, and box of Remington 40 caliber bullets."
That's in addition to a gun that Williams kept in his pants, a "9 mm Luger semi-automatic loaded with 8 live rounds, with an obliterated serial number."
But now that he's a famous rapper, free Meek Mill!
In another section of her order and opinion, the judge questioned Public Defender Bradley Bridge on the process by which his office is getting hundreds of convicted drug dealers out of jail.
The current freedom train starts with our top law enforcement officer, Progressive Larry Krasner. Progressive Larry keeps a "Do Not Call List""regarding officers from which there have been credibility issues that have risen," Bridge told the judge.
Everything about the Do Not Call List, as in do not call them as witnesses, is murky. What a cop has to do to get on Larry's list. What a cop has to do to get off Larry's list, short of death. And the big question is whether due process has anything to do with Larry's list.
In the case of retired Police Officer Reggie Graham, the cop who arrested Meek Mill, here's what happened when he landed on Larry's Do Not Call List. Over at the Public Defender's office, Bradley Bridge automatically knows that whenever a cop lands on Larry's list, there's automatic questions he plans to raise about the legitimacy of any arrests the cop might have made. So Bridge proceeds to try and get as many people as possible previously arrested by that cop out of jail.
In the judge's 47-page order and opinion, she describes that process. According to Bridge, you land on the list if you're guilty of "criminal charges, deceit or brutality." Again, there's a question of due process.
The public defender meets with the D.A., to "determine the viability of a claim that the conviction was gained by corrupt police officers at a time that the corruption was known to have existed," Bridge told Judge Brinkley.
The cases are then "consolidated for review, and relief is granted by agreement of the parties," the judge wrote. If the D.A. has no further evidence "other than the testimony of the corrupt police officer," the case is "nolle prossed," meaning abandoned or dismissed, at the "very same hearing," the judge wrote.
"Bridge has averred in his affidavit that he has worked on vacating over 1,500 convictions and filed an additional 6,000 PCRA [Post Conviction Relief Act] petitions based upon police officers on the Do Not Call List," the judge wrote.
The cases are consolidated and presented to one judge "in order to ensure a consistent process," the judge wrote. It's assembly line justice. However, there appear to be some flaws in the freedom train, starting with the capabilities of Public Defender Bridge.
In the case of rapper Meek Mill, the judge wrote, "Bridge inaccurately stated the facts of Defendant's case" to Judge Brinkley. According to the judge, Bridge said that the defendant pleaded guilty to a single charge, possession with intent to distribute, and was sentenced on Aug. 19, 2008 to two-to-four years in jail, plus probation for eight years. Bridge also stated that the rapper never filed an appeal under PCRA.
But, the judge wrote, the true facts are: the defendant never pleaded guilty, he was convicted at a nonjury trial. He was also charged with three other crimes, including a violation of the Uniform Firearms Act, possession of an instrument of crime, and simple assault.
Bridge also got the sentencing date wrong and the sentence; the defendant was sentenced on Jan. 16, 2009 to 11 1/2 to 23 months in jail, plus 10 years probation, the judge wrote. And the defendant did file a PCRA appeal, in 2018!
Way to go Bradley!! For those of you scoring at home that's five errors on the basic facts of the record of one defendant.
In his PCRA petition on behalf of the rapper, Bridge stated that he is "still not aware" of the facts that "justified Officer Graham's placement on the secret list," the judge wrote. And that Bridge went out and got three of Officer Graham's prior cases dismissed, "without ever making himself aware" of how and why Officer Graham wound up on the D.A.'s Do Not Call list, the judge wrote.
The judge seemed shocked at the way Bridge was going about his business, without any facts at his disposal, other than the D.A.'s Do Not Call list.
"The records in those cases remain void of any investigation that would have informed Bridge as to the facts know to the District Attorney that would justify Officer Graham's placement on the list," the judge wrote. The judge added that "having taken notice of how inaccurate the facts were," and how Bridge bungled applicable case law in his petition on behalf the rapper, "This court cannot rely on Bridge's testimony regarding how such PCRA petitions should be handled."
The judge said she found similar mistakes made by Bridge in other PCRA petitions made by the public defender in attempting to toss previous arrests made by retired Officer Graham. "It is not clear whether Bridge's statements were intentional misrepresentations or innocent errors," she wrote.
During the hearing where Bridge got three previous Graham arrests tossed by Judge Sheila Skipper Woods, Judge Brinkley wrote, "It is undisputed that no findings of fact of law were actually put on the record. As a result, this Court is not bound by those determinations."
Now we finally get to due process, and the flaws in the operation of the freedom train. During his appearance in Judge Brinkley's court, Public Defender Bridge testified that he filed a group of 1,400 PCRA petitions involving arrests made by Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Perry Betts, Michael Spicer, John Speiser and Linwood Norman; all former members of the Narcotics Field Unit South.
More than 1,000 of the unit's arrests have already been overturned to date, most involving convicted drug dealers who had pleaded guilty. Hundreds of these cases were dismissed on the accusations of a government informant, a corrupt former officer named Jeffrey Walker, even before the officers went on trial in a 26-count federal racketeering case.
These aren't nickel bag arrests. In two of those arrests, Mohammed Samhan and Kit "Fatboy" Poon, were caught red-handed in 2012 with more than 200 pounds of marijuana worth more than $2 million. Both drug dealers decided to cooperate, before they were sprung from jail by Bradley Bridge, with the cooperation of former District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams.
Then, the narcs went to trial in federal court. On May 14, 2015, a jury found those six cops not guilty on all 47 charges contained in 26 separate counts. The jury foreman told this reporter the case was so easy to decide they could have been done in ten minutes, because the government had no evidence to prove any of the charges, other then the seemingly rehearsed and amazingly similar stories, complete with the same catch phrases, told by a bunch of drug dealers, and the accusations of corrupt cop Jeffrey Walker.
In her opinion and order, Judge Brinkley explained the process of how the public defender's office goes about getting convictions of drug dealers thrown out en masse. It's pretty shocking stuff:
"Bridge testified that he would provide the court with a spread sheet and the court would go through the list, typically giving each case 10 to 15 seconds of consideration, and grant relief in bulk," Judge Brinkley wrote. "He [Bridge] stated that as many as 150 cases were reviewed in one sitting. In all of those cases, no evidentiary hearing took place," the judge wrote, "and the court granted relief solely based upon agreement of the parties without any further inquiry. He [Bridge] testified that this had been the process for the past 23 years."
Bridge then explained to Judge Brinkley that he filed PCRA petitions against former Officer Graham based on two events. The first event, the judge wrote, was an article in the Inquirer alleging that Officer Graham had been placed on the D.A.'s Do Not Call List.
The second event Bridge referred tp occurred on March 25, 2018, when Progressive Larry Krasner actually gave Bridge a copy of his top-secret Do Not Call List.
A grateful Bridge stated that he promptly went out and "filed a total of 290 post-conviction petitions solely based upon the District Attorney's" Do Not Call List. And that three of the petitions had already been granted thanks to "the streamlined process" already in place where the D.A. and the public defender agree that the defendants require "immediate relief without an evidential hearing."
All that's needed in Philadelphia for a convicted drug dealer who probably pleaded guilty to get out of town, Judge Brinkley wrote, is for a judge to write: "PCRA is granted. Motion for New Trial Granted. Commonwealth's motion to nolle prosse is granted due to credibility of the arresting officer and no additional evidence available."
The judge then overturns the prior conviction and grants a new trial.
As another public service, Judge Brinkley recounted her questioning of Public Defender Bridge, about what he did to investigate the credibility of Officer Graham, who was accused of corruption by another corrupt cop, Jeffrey Walker:
Bridge: "No. I take that back. I mean, I take that back. I did look at some internal affairs investigations involving him [Officer Graham]."
The Judge: "Did you speak to retired Police Officer Graham yourself?"
Bridge: "I have not."
The Judge: "OK. Did you subpoena or speak to his lawyer, Mr. Abdul-Rahman?"
Bridge: "I did not . . ."
The Judge: "Did you subpoena or speak to anyone -- I'm sorry, Police Officer Sonya Jones, who conducted undercover surveillance with Police Officer Graham back on Jan. 23, 2007?"
Bridge: "I did not."
The Judge: "Did you subpoena or speak to Officer James Johnson or any of the other back-up officers that were in the police paperwork for the date of arrest . . . 1/242007?"
Bridge: "I did not."
The judge then asked if Bridge had ever talked to any FBI agents "specifically about [Officer] Graham?"
"I don't recall," Bridge said. "No, I don't think so."
The Judge: "Ok, were you aware of retired Police Office Graham's cooperation with the federal authorities back in 2014?'
Bridge: "I read about it, but I didn't have that information."
The Judge: "You didn't have that information?"
Bridge also told the judge he never spoke with anybody from the Philadelphia Police Department's Internal Affairs or Officer Graham or his lawyer, before "agreeing with the Commonwealth that there were credibility issues related to Graham."
"When asked what exactly he did do," the judge wrote, "Bridge stated, 'I examined the District Attorney's Do Not Call List. I saw the allegations contained on the list . . . It was based on that that I went forward and filed the post-conviction relief."
It turns out that retired Officer Reggie Graham was a federal informant who, during 2013 and 2014, when the FBI was investigating the narcs, "provided unsolicited information to federal investigators," the judge wrote. And one of those corrupt officers that Graham informed on was Jeffrey Walker, the judge wrote, before Graham put in for a transfer.
"Officer Graham did all of this in order to disassociate himself from both Walker and the other corrupt officers," the judge wrote. "As a result, Walker was then transferred and Officer Graham was not . . . A few months thereafter, Walker was arrested for planting drugs in a vehicle."
When Walker got arrested, guess who was his lawyer? Why it was ace defense lawyer Larry Krasner, a fact noted by the judge.
"Notwithstanding the issue of a possible conflict of interest," Judge Brinkley wrote, Krasner as D.A. "agrees to PCRA relief in the form of a new trial."
Instead, because he had the appearance of a conflict of interest, Krasner probably should have disqualified himself.
Walker told the feds he gave Graham an envelope stuffed with cash, but Graham told the FBI he threw it in the trash.
"Officer Graham further explained that shortly before Walker was arrested, Walker confided that the other corrupted officers pulled guns on Walker and threatened to kill him because they found out he was talking to the FBI and ADA Douglas," the judge wrote. "Officer Graham then contacted ADA Douglas out of concern for Walker's safety."
As a result of cooperating, the judge wrote, Graham had his tires slashed and all the window in his apartment broken.
In her opinion, Judge Brinkley wrote that "disgraced former Officer Jeffrey Walker is not credible" as the main accuser against Meek Mill's arresting officer, Reggie Graham. Graham, who broke his silence on the case during an interview with Steve Volk of Philly mag, continues to proclaim his innocence, the judge noted.
The judge noted that Walker "was not present" at Meek Mill's arrest "and therefore had no personal knowledge of the case." Walker was also the prosecution's main witness at the racketeering trial of the six former members of the Narcotics Field Unit South, the judge wrote, and the jury obviously didn't believe him when they acquitted all six officers on all 47 charges.
The subject of Paw's email: "CLOSE HOLD -- Important."
And now the propriety of Fina's actions while he was leading the grand jury probe on behalf of the state attorney general's office, and routinely swapping intel with investigators for the Freeh Group, have been called into question by 11 Penn State trustees.
On Friday, the 11 trustees called on the full 38-member Penn State board to release a confidential 200-page review of source materials for the 267-page Freeh Report. The trustees also called on the board to formally renounce Freeh's findings, and try to recoup some of the $8.3 million that the university paid Freeh.
Alice Pope, a St. John's University professor who is a Penn State trustee, told spectators and reporters that she was concerned about "additional information" that has "emerged in the public domain" indicating there was "cooperation between the PA Office of Attorney General and Freeh" during their parallel investigations into the Penn State sex abuse candal.
"We believed it was important to understand the degree of cooperation between the Freeh investigation and the Office of Attorney General," Pope said.
The trustees have been concerned for years about the extent of this cooperation between Fina and the Freeh Group, and in the past, have privately questioned whether Fina's conduct was improper or illegal.
In an "Executive Summary of Findings" of the internal review of the source materials for the Freeh Report, dated Jan. 8, 2017, Penn State's trustees cited concerns over "interference in Louis Freeh's investigation by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General."
That interference was defined in the executive summary as: "information gathered in the criminal investigations of Penn State officials" that was "improperly (and perhaps illegally) shared with Louis Freeh and his team."
On Oct. 22, 2012, Fina told grand jury Judge Barry Feudale not to worry about rule 3.10 of the code of professional conduct for lawyers in Pennsylvania that required the judge to hold a hearing first to see whether Baldwin's testimony would violate the attorney-client privileges of three of her former clients.
As far as Fina was concerned, it was more important to keep the grand jury proceedings secret, as well as the news that Baldwin was now cooperating with the state attorney general's office, and testifying behind closed doors against her former clients -- former university president Graham Spanier, former university vice president Gary Schultz, and former university athletic director Tim Curley.
"We need not address the privilege issue," Fina told the judge. "We can address that later on," because Fina promised not to ask any questions that would violate that privilege. The judge instructed 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.
Then, four days later, according to the disciplinary board, Fina proceeded to do just that a total of 73 times. In the grand jury, Fina questioned Baldwin about her representation of the former clients, what they said to her, and what she said to them.
Amelia C. Kittredge, counsel to the disciplinary board, declined comment on Fina's cooperation with the Freeh Group. Dennis C. McAndrews, the lawyer representing Fina before the disciplinary board, also could not be reached for comment.
Confidential records reveal that Fina was repeatedly swapping inside dope with investigators at the Freeh Group throughout the attorney general's secret grand investigation of Penn State The intel exchange allowed investigators for the Freeh Group and the attorney general's office to play tag-team with grand jury witnesses such as Baldwin.
Freeh's investigators questioned Baldwin three times, on Nov. 23, 2011, Feb. 29, 2012, and May15, 2012, before they released their report about Penn State on July 12, 2012. And Deputy Attorney General Fina seemed to know what was going on every step of the way before he brought Baldwin into the grand jury on Oct. 26, 2012, to testify against her three former clients.
As a result, both investigations were contaminated, and may have yielded poisoned fruit.
On Oct. 31, 2012, the same day Fina was telling the Freeh Group about the imminent arrests of Spanier, Curley and Schultz, Paw, a senior investigator for Freeh, wrote an email to Omar McNeill, another Freeh senior investigator, divulging the confidential details of how deputy Attorney General Fina was pressuring Baldwin's lawyer in his campaign to turn Baldwin into a cooperating witness.
Internal emails from the Freeh Group reveal that the attorney general's office for months had been working hand-in-hand with the Freeh Group while investigating Penn State.
"Greg [Paw] spoke with Fina," Kathleen McChesney, a former FBI agent who was a senior investigator for Freeh, wrote on April 19, 2012. The deputy attorney general conveyed that he "does not want Spanier or other [defendants[ to see documents; next 24 hours are important for case & offered to re-visit over weekend re: sharing documents; attys & AG's staff are talking, & still looking to charge Spanier . . ."
"He [Fina] said that the feedback he received from jurors was that they wanted someone to take a 'fire hose' to Penn State and rinse away the bad that happened there. He [Fina] said that he still looked forward to a day when Baldwin would be ‘led away in cuffs,’ and he said that day was going to be near for Spanier.”
But in her interview with Freeh's investigators, Baldwin had plenty to say about her former client. She described Spanier as a "rationalist," someone who "believed that if he explained the elements of a problem in a certain way people would accept his reasoning and the problem would go away."
When Penn State got hit with subpoenas in the Sandusky investigation for football coach Joe Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz, Spanier was "surprised but did not get excited and said things would be fine," Baldwin told the two investigators from the Freeh Group.
"Looking back, she considers his reaction to be another example that he [Spanier] was a 'rationalist in the extreme," the report quotes Baldwin as saying. "Furthermore, she did not get the impression that any of the three men are concerned about the subpoenas."
In her interviews with the Freeh Group, Baldwin revealed that Frank Fina wasn't the only person from the AG's office who was leaking secrets.
"In late October 2011, General Counsel Baldwin heard discretely from an individual in the Attorney General's office that a grand jury presentment was about to be released," the report said. "According to this individual, Curley and Schultz were included in the presentment regarding their 'duty to protect' and 'reporting abuse.'"
On March 30, 2012, McChesney took notes about grand jury intel relayed by Fina to Paw.
"Grand jury re Baldwin; judge not happy with what she said about representing the university -- inconsistent statements -- we are getting [copies] of the transcripts . . . "
In the grand jury proceedings, Baldwin asserted hat she had represented the university, and not Spanier, Schultz, or Curley. Apparently, the judge had a problem with that, according to McChesney's notes.
On June 28, 2012, McChesney noted an email Paw sent to the Freeh Group, talking about his frequent conversations with Fina. They were trying to figure out the identity of the other leaker from the attorney general's office who had previously tipped off Baldwin about what the grand jury was up to.
Penn State was served with subpoenas for documents in December 2010, but did not comply until April 2012.
John Snedden, a former special agent for NCIS and the Federal Investigative Services, investigated the alleged coverup at Penn State to decide whether Spanier's high level security clearance should be renewed. As part of his 2012 investigation, Snedden interviewed Cynthia Baldwin in March 2012. In that interview, Baldwin called Spanier "a very smart man, a man of integrity," and said that she trusted Spanier, and trusted his judgment.
To Snedden, Baldwin, who, in May was also brought up on misconduct charges in front of the disciplinary board of the state Supreme Court, has lost all credibility.
"You've got a clear indication that Cynthia Baldwin was doing whatever they wanted her to do," Snedden said about Baldwin's cooperation with the attorney general's office.
An appeals court has already ruled that Fina's dealings with Baldwin were improper on both ends.
On Jan. 22, 2016, the Pennsylvania Superior Court dismissed a total of eight charges, including charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy against both former Spanier and Schultz, and charges of obstruction and conspiracy against Curley.
Another term for those grand jury "insights" gleaned from our "contacts at the AG" -- leaks.
Fina is now a criminal defense lawyer. And one of his most prominent recent clients is Brendan Young, the Penn State fraternity president charged with manslaughter and other crimes in the alcoholic-fueled hazing death of Timothy Piazza, a former pledge.
Fina has also been accused in court of leaking grand jury secrets by Jerry Sandusky's appeal lawyers. But on Oct. 18, 2017, Jefferson County Presiding Judge John Henry Foradora issued a 59-page opinion where he cleared Fina of leaking, while denying Sandusky a new trial sought under the Post Conviction Relief Act.
And also because Fina told the judge that he supposedly set a trap to find the real leaker, the judge wrote, but apparently Fina was as successful as O.J. Simpson in his hunt for the real killers who murdered his wife.
On the witness stand at the trial of former Penn State President Graham Spanier on March 21, 207, McQueary testified it was Eshbach who called him during a bye week in the 2011 football season, days before the release of the grand jury report, and said, "We're going to arrest folks and we are going to leak it out."
Apparently, that's how things are done in the attorney general's office; leak, leak, leak. Authorized leaks and non-authorized leaks. And that leaking is done without regard for grand jury secrecy, the constitutional rights of the accused, or any sense of fair play.
That's how the game is played in Pennsylvania, where the prosecutors, behind closed doors in secret grand jury proceedings before friendly judges, already hold all the cards.
By Ralph Cipriano
Lawyers for Graham Spanier have called on the state Superior Court judge who wrote the June 26th opinion upholding the former Penn State president's conviction on one count of endangering the welfare of a child to recuse himself from the case because of an undisclosed conflict of interest.
In a 16-page application for recusal filed yesterday, Spanier's lawyers argue that state Superior Court Judge Victor P. Stabile should disqualify himself because he previously testified in a lawsuit against Penn State and Spanier, and also attacked Spanier in an old email as an "emperor" in "new clothes."
In the application for recusal, Spanier's lawyers seek the vacating of the Superior Court's decision upholding Spanier's conviction, and a chance to reargue their appeal before a new panel of judges, or the entire Superior Court.
Three days after Judge Stabile authored a 2-1 Superior Court decision upholding Spanier's conviction, Spanier got an email from an old colleague, Philip McConnaughay, former dean of the Penn State Dickinson School of Law [DSL] from 2002 to 2013.
In the email, McConnaughay informed Spanier that "between 2003 and 2006, Judge Stabile, then a lawyer in private practice, was a leader of a group of DSL alumni who were stridently opposed to Penn State's plans to either relocate DSL or to create a second campus of DSL in State College," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
While leading that opposition, Stabile "made critical personal comments about those Penn State administrators, including Dr. Spanier, who favored such a plan," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
"Emails and documents from that period that Dr. Spanier has obtained in the past few days demonstrate that there are grounds for Judge Stabile's recusal from participation in this matter. In light of this information, the Court should vacate the Panel's decision, and the matter should be reassigned and reargued before another panel or before the Court en banc."
Penn State had previously proposed moving DSL from it's longtime location in Carlisle, PA to Penn State's main campus in State College. The plan "was eventually abandoned in favor of a proposal to create a two-campus law school, with facilities in Carlisle and State College," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
Both the plan to merge the two institutions, and the two-campus plan "met with substantial and vociferous opposition from a faction of the DSL alumni," Spanier's lawyers wrote. During that period, Stabile, a DSL graduate from 1982, was a member of DSL's General Alumni Association [GAA] board of directors. Stabile also served on a five-person committee of the GAA board that "criticized the proposal" put forward by Penn State, and in the process, "made several disparaging comments about those members of the Penn State administration who favored the proposal, including Dr. Spanier," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
"I still do not understand why Penn State bothered to merge Dickinson if it seems intent on changing everything about the school," Stabile wrote in a 2003 email. "They could have built their own damn school in State College and accomplished the same thing without eradicating an institution."
In another email a few days later, Stabile wrote about the plan to relocate DSL, "There is a certain arrogance here that is unacceptable."
In their brief, Spanier's lawyers cite emails critical of Spanier that were sent to the GAA, of which Stabile was a member, referring to "that chief hustler Spanier" who was allegedly "pushing for approval Saturday" for the two-campus proposal.
A report issued by the GAA board, endorsed by Stabile, described the Penn State administration as "incompetent" and criticized Spanier several times, Spanier's lawyers wrote.
"For example, the report questioned Dr. Spanier's motives in proposing the two-campus model and implied that he [Spanier] falsely attributed the original relocation idea to the DSL dean, rather than the Penn State administration," Spanier's lawyers wrote. "The report posed a rhetorical question regarding Dr. Spanier's alleged motives in putting forth the two-campus proposal: 'Surely it has nothing to do with an employment contract extended in 2003 and expiring in the next year?'"
The report also contended that Spanier "promoted in his biography his role in the DSL merger but hid his responsibility for other mergers that allegedly failed," Spanier's lawyers wrote, quoting the report.
In January 2005, the DSL Board of Governors met to vote on whether to agree with Penn State, and move forward with the two-campus plan. The day before the vote, Stabile sent an email to the GAA board, complaining that "I can't imagine why many think this is a great proposal. The emperor certainly has new clothes . . ."
"The crisis here has been been wholly fabricated by PSU," Stabile wrote. In the same email, Stabile also claimed that the two-campus plan would result in "complete subjugation by DSL."
"I have no more words left; the process that has proceeded through does not do justice to our profession, nonetheless to its leadership -- and this is an institution that teaches the rule of law!!" Stabile wrote. "Count me as embarrassed and disgusted."
In February 2005, three DSL alumni sued Penn State, Spanier, and the DSL board of governors, seeking to stop implementation of the two-campus plan. At a GAA board meeting a couple days later, Stabile "advocated intervening on behalf of the plaintiffs in their suit against Dr. Spanier," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
That's just what happened.
On May 19, 2005, Stabile testified in that litigation about his opposition to the two-campus proposal. He admitted during that dispute, "emotions were running high on both sides," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
During his testimony, Stabile described the reaction to GAA's opposition to the two-campus plan as "very hurtful to see us cast in this light. Stabile also admitted while testifying that he "was particularly hurt" to be "dismissed as . . . merely angry or somewhat of a malcontent."
"The standard for recusal requires a judge to recuse from hearing a matter where the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned," Spanier's lawyers wrote. "Recusal is warranted where a judge has a 'personal bias or interest which would preclude an impartial review' or where 'his participation in the matter would give the appearance of impropriety,'" Spanier's lawyers wrote.
It's not necessary for a judge to have an actual conflict of interest to recuse himself, Spanier's lawyers wrote. Merely having "an appearance of impropriety alone forms an independent basis for recusal even when no actual bias, unfairness, or prejudice is shown" on the judge's part, Spanier's lawyers wrote, quoting case law.
"Disqualification is mandatory 'in any proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned,'" Spanier's lawyers wrote. "Avoiding the appearance of impropriety . . . is mandatory."
"Judge Stabile should recuse from this matter because of his prior role in strenuously and personally opposing the actions of Dr. Spanier and Penn State University regarding Dickinson School of Law," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
Stabile's past actions provide a "substantial basis to request Judge Stabile's recusal." Documents also reveal a "strident and personal reaction from Judge Stabile" to the proposals from Spanier and Penn State to move DSL, Spanier's lawyers wrote.
Stabile was "a leader of a faction of the alumni that severely criticized" Spanier, his lawyers wrote. In addition, Stabile and others "met, communicated, and prepared reports that attacked the motives, the integrity, and the competence of Dr. Spanier and other administrators involved in the two-campus proposal. Judge Stabile strongly opposed the proposal, actively worked to stop it [including by testifying in litigation filed against Dr. Spanier to accomplish this goal] and admitted that he was 'hurt' by the criticism of his opposition."
During the "bitter dispute over the two-campus proposal," Stabile "exhibited anger and personal animosity toward the Penn State administration, headed by Dr. Spanier," his lawyers wrote. Although "any bias or prejudice" against Spanier "may have diminished in the decade or so since the dispute took place," Stabile's partisan involvement "is something that should have been disclosed when Dr. Spanier's appeal was assigned to a panel that included Judge Stabile," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
Then, Spanier's lawyers quoted the standard for judicial disclosure of an apparent conflict of interest:
"Where a court has specific knowledge of a private matter or situation in which his or her impartiality may reasonably be questioned, it is his duty to disclose that information to the parties."
Judge Stabile, Spanier's lawyers argued, clearly failed to meet that standard.
Spanier, convicted on June 24, 2017, was given a sentence of 4 to 12 months, with at least two months to be served in jail. His sentence, however, has been suspended pending his appeal.
The filing seeking the recusal of Judge Stabile was the second filing in the case made yesterday by Spanier's lawyers, who also appealed the state Superior Court's upholding of Spanier's conviction on technical grounds.
The basic problem is that the attorney general's office indicted Spanier on Nov. 1, 2012 for allegedly endangering the welfare of a child back in 2001, by supposedly not doing anything about the alleged shower rape witnessed by Mike McQueary.
The technical problem on appeal is that the statute of limitations for endangering the welfare of a child [EWOC] is two years, so the Commonwealth's indictment of Spanier missed the mark by more than a decade. To uphold Spanier's appeal, the Commonwealth invoked an exception to the statute of limitations that wasn't law until 2007, an exception that wasn't raised by the Commonwealth at trial, nor considered by the jury.
In a 15-page application for rearmament, filed yesterday, Spanier's lawyers argue that in upholding Spanier's conviction"on the basis of a statue-of-limitations exception the Commonwealth never raises constitutes a dramatic departure from longstanding due process jurisprudence." Under state law, the Commonwealth was required "to give a defendant notice on the specific basis on which it alleges a prosecution is timely," according to the brief written by Timothy K. Lewis, Samuel W. Silver and Bruce P. Merensteain of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP of Philadelphia.
There are other problems with the EWOC charge that the corrupt legal system of Pennsylvania fails to recognize -- even McQueary admitted in writing he never saw an anal rape of a 10-year-old boy by Sandusky, as alleged in the grand jury presentment. The marquee crime in that indictment amounts to fiction. A jury also found Sandusky not guilty of that crime. The victim has never come forward, and a federal investigation, previously undisclosed, determined that McQueary was not a credible witness.
At Spanier's trial, according to his lawyers, it was the state's burden to give a criminal defendant notice when the prosecution is pulling some legal games to get around the statute of limitations, which in this case had clearly lapsed by more than 10 years.
The other legal problem with Spanier's conviction was that the state's original child endangerment law, passed in 1972, did not apply to Spanier when the alleged crime that never happened, the 2001 shower rape witnessed by McQueary, supposedly occurred.
In 2001, the child endangerment law, as previously discussed on this blog, did not apply to supervisors such as Spanier; it only applied to people who had direct contact with children, such as parents, teachers and guardians.
In 2007, the state legislature amended the child endangerment law to include supervisors. So convicting Spanier of a law that wasn't in effect when the crime allegedly occurred violates what's know as "the Ex Post Facto and Due Process Clauses of the state and federal constitutions, which do not permit a jury to convict a defendant for violating a state statute enacted after the conduct on which the conviction is based," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
According to Spanier's lawyers, "Pennsylvania law is clear: the Commonwealth must provide a defendant with notice of the specific exception . . . on which it relies to salvage an otherwise time-barred prosecution" at a "reasonable time before trial."
The exception that the Superior Court relied on to get around the statute of limitations was enacted by the state Legislature when it amended the child endangerment statute in 2007 to include supervisors. According to the exception, if the victim who was abused was under 20 years of age when the abuse occurred, the victim had until his 50th birthday to file criminal charges.
But that exception wasn't even law when the shower incident allegedly occurred. Spanier's lawyers also point out that the jury was never instructed on the exception "despite Dr. Spanier's repeated requests that the jury be instructed on the statute of limitations."
"The trial court's failure to instruct the jury on what it must find to conclude that the prosecution was timely and the lack of a jury finding that the prosecution is timely renders Dr. Spanier's conviction invalid," his lawyers concluded.
"Over Dr. Spanier's objections, the trial court instructed the jury that it could find him guilty of child endangerment if, among other things, he employed or supervised someone else who was supervising the welfare of a child," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
But that language "did not become part of the child endangerment statue until January 2007, almost six years after the events on which Dr. Spanier's" conviction was based on," Spanier's brief states.
"An instruction that permitted the jury to convict Dr. Spanier of violating a statute that was not in existence at the time of the events forming the basis for that conviction is a violation of the Ex Post Facto and Due Process Clauses of the federal and state constitutions," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
In upholding Spanier's conviction, the Superior Court relied on a case known as the Commonwealth v. Lynn, as in Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
In the Lynn case, Spanier's lawyers argue, the state Supreme Court held that Lynn was the "point man" who was "specifically responsible" for handling all child abuse allegations because he was "uniquely responsible for safeguarding all of their physical and moral welfare, and he supervised and directed the priests who directly interacted with [the children]."
But Spanier 's case doesn't measure up to these standards, his lawyers concluded.
"No evidence was presented that Dr. Spanier was the 'point man' for all child-abuse allegations, that he was 'specifically responsible' for handling such allegations, that he was 'uniquely responsible' for safeguarding the welfare of minor children, or that he supervised or directed an actual child abuser," Spanier's lawyers wrote.
Sandusky was a retired former employee when the 2001 shower incident allegedly occurred.
In the latest edition of Mob Talk Sitdown, reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratweiser talk about the latest federal indictment rumors, and why former mob boss Joey Merlino had a steak dinner in New York City with Robert De Niro.
By Ralph Cipriano
To make his closing argument today on behalf of Frank Fina in an ethics case, lawyer Joseph McGettigan sunk to the occasion by applying a fresh coast of slime to many of his client's perceived enemies.
At the end of a three-day hearing before the state Supreme Court's disciplinary board, McGettigan started out by attacking the investigation of Fina as "dishonorable and shameful."
The disciplinary board, McGettigan said, had gone out of its way to "smear a man and mischaracterize his honorable conduct."
McGettigan was just warming up. By the time he sat down, he had implied that the two women who filed the original ethics complaint against Fina were Penn State "truthers" possibly acting in consort with lawyers for any or all of five criminals that crime-buster Fina had previously put away. McGettigan also attacked the disciplinary board's counsel for supposedly siding with those "five convicted criminals" in a campaign to "defame, denigrate and criticize a hard-working public servant."
At the Jerry Sandusky trial in 2012, McGettigan and Fina worked side by side as prosecutors on behalf of the state attorney general's office.
Today, the scene of the legal battle was the disciplinary board, where Fina is accused of violating the attorney-client privilege during a 2012 grand jury session where he questioned former Penn State Counsel Cynthia Baldwin about her interactions with three former clients.
In his scorched-earth summation, McGettigan went through the cast of characters that he said were standing on both sides of this ethical battle. On his side, McGettigan said, was Fina the "hardworking public servant," the "honorable" Cynthia Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice; and Ron Castille, a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court who testified pro bono today as an expert witness on Fina's behalf.
And on the disciplinary board's side, McGettigan said, were the two Penn State "truthers" who had viciously attacked his client by filing their complaint, "probably" at the behest of "defendants' lawyers." Also on the disciplinary board's side, McGettigan said, were five criminals that Fina had played a central role in convicting. They include former Penn State President Graham Spanier, former PSU Vice President Gary Schultz, former PSU athletic director Tim Curley, convicted child abuser Jerry Sandusky, and former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Spanier was convicted on one count of endangering the welfare of a child; Curley and Schultz pled guilty to one count each of child endangerment. Sandusky got convicted on 45 counts of the sexual abuse of children. And Kane, after engaging in a messy public feud with Fina, had to resign after she was convicted of perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The charges emanated from Kane's decision to leak secret grand jury information to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter, in an ill-fated attempt to get back at Fina.
"Convicted, convicted, convicted, convicted, convicted," McGettigan intoned as he ran down the roster of Fina's political adversaries; adversaries that McGettigan implied, were still trying to get back at Fina through the useful idiots at the disciplinary board.
McGettigan had harsh words for Amelia C. Kittredge, the disciplinary board's counsel who brought the case against Fina. McGettigan ripped Kittredge for bringing a "bizarre and inexplicable" case that McGettigan said included no fact witnesses.
"I don't need no stinking witnesses," McGettigan cracked about Kittredge's case. Instead, McGettigan said, Kittredge relied on a "blizzard of paper" and a paid expert witness to attack Fina.
It was straight out of Alice in Wonderland, McGettigan said: "Verdict first; trial later; evidence never."
In Kittredge's defense, she apparently believed that all she needed to prove her case was to presentthe disciplinary board with court transcripts that showed that Fina had clearly misled a grand jury judge about his intentions when he was trying to get the judge's permission to question Baldwin.
When Fina appeared before the grand jury on Oct. 22, 2012, he told Judge Barry Feudale that he wanted to call Cynthia Baldwin as a witness, but he claimed that he wouldn't get into any areas of questioning that would violate the attorney-client privilege.
Fina is accused of breaking Rule 3.10 of the Rules of Professional Conduct which 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."
"We need not address the privilege issue," Fina told the judge, because "we are not going to ask questions about" the grand jury testimony of Spanier, Schultz and Curley, or any communication Baldwin may have had with her former clients.
As for violating the attorney-client privilege, that was a "risk" Fina told the judge that the prosecutor was willing to take. But under Rule 3.10, Kittredge said, rather than letting the prosecutor taking a risk of violating the privilege, the judge should have held the hearing and then made the decision as to whether Baldwin should testify.
Instead, the judge told Fina to proceed with the questioning of Baldwin under the assumption that "you're not going to get into any inquiry as to [Baldwin's] representation" of her former clients.
But on Oct. 26, 2012, when Fina questioned Baldwin in front of the grand jury, he "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's counsel wrote, to solicit damaging information that would attack the credibility of Baldwin's three former clients. In the petition, the disciplinary board cited 73 examples from the grand jury transcript where Fina elicited confidential testimony from Baldwin that violated the attorney-client privilege.
The actions of Fina and Baldwin in the grand jury were so egregious that 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.
But at the ethics board today, McGettigan said in order to prove her allegations against Fina, Kittredge should have produced Baldwin's three former clients to testify that the attorney-client privilege had indeed been broken.
"They lied to her," McGettigan said about how the three Penn State administrators allegedly dealt with Baldwin. Meanwhile, McGettigan said, Kittredge didn't have the guts to say it, but she was basically calling Baldwin a liar whens he claimed she advised the three Penn State officials that she represented the university, and not those officials personally.
Kittredge, McGettigan said, didn't prove any of the elements of her case. The subpoenas that were sent out to Spanier, Curley and Schultz were signed by other deputy attorney generals and approved by the grand jury judge. Fina's name wasn't on any of the subpoenas, McGettigan said.
Baldwin's clients, McGettigan said, gave up the attorney-client privilege when they lied to her about what they knew about two shower incidents from 1998 and 2002 involving Sandusky and young boys. McGettigan claimed that the PSU trio had conspired to keep quiet about Sandusky's activities, to protect the university. It was an accusation never proven in court, but that didn't stop McGettigan from going well beyond the scope of what the disciplinary board was there to figure out.
"They were dormant," McGettigan said about the Penn State officials, "but he [Sandusky] wasn't," McGettigan said. "He preyed upon children because of what they did."
The three officials lied to the "honorable" Baldwin, their employer and a grand jury, McGettigan said. He asked the disciplinary board to find Frank Fina innocent. He closed by saying that if Kittredge had any sense of honor, she would stand up and apologize for falsely accusing Fina of ethical violations.
Kittredge, who sat stone-faced during McGettigan's closing, did not take him up on his offer.
Earlier, when she gave her closing statement, Kittredge claimed that Fina had deliberately misled the grand jury judge and had deliberately and repeatedly violated the attorney-client privilege when he questioned Baldwin.
The hearing trequired by Rule 3.10 of the Rules of Professional Conduct was never held, Kittredge said. More proof of that, she said, was that attorneys for Spanier, Curley and Schultz never had a chance to appear before Judge Feudale, and argue why Baldwin should not have been allowed to testify against her former clients before the grand jury.
Instead, Kittredge said, Fina made the "self-serving declaration" that Penn State's lawyer had waived the attorney-client privilege on behalf of Penn State. Even though the university never waived the privilege when it came to prior communication between Baldwin and her clients.
In his defense before the ethics board, Fina's lawyers claimed that Baldwin's three former clients had waived the attorney-client privilege when they allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy to lie to Baldwin and the grand jury about what they knew about Sandusky, allegations, of course, that were never proven in court.
However, according to Kittredge that defense was an "after-thought," by Fina, an issue never raised previously.
In order to invoke the crime-fraud exception, Kittredge said, Baldwin would have had to have been on the conspiracy, and she clearly wasn't. So the crime-fraud exception, she argued, didn't apply.
Instead, Kittredge said, Baldwin did the worst thing a lawyer could do by not only betraying her client, but also proceeding to testify against them.
Meanwhile, Kittredge said, all Fina offered in his defense were excuses. She urged the board to find him guilty.
Earlier in the day, former state Supreme Court Justice Castille testified as an expert witness on behalf of Fina. Castille claimed that the three former Penn State officials voluntarily gave up the attorney-client privilege when they allegedly lied to Baldwin.
"These three people conspired together to protect Penn State by hiding evidence," he said. "You can't lie to your lawyer and expect them to continue to be your lawyer."
About the disciplinary board's case against Fina, Castillo said, "They went overboard." The disciplinary board also overlooked the written opinions and rulings of two judges in the case who consistently backed Fina's actions, Castille testified. He called the case against Fina "a travesty of justice."
Castille, as did Fina's lawyers, also implied that the Superior Court decision that upbraided Fina for misconduct and blew out the most serious charges against the Penn State administrators should have been appealed to the state Supreme Court, where Castille said, "I would have reversed it."
It's not the duty of the state Superior Court to discipline lawyers, Castille argued; that role belonged to the "D Board," as Castille referred to it. Fina's lawyers claimed the decision not to appeal the state Superior Court ruling was an act of political retaliation against Fina, as orchestrated by then attorney-general Kathleen Kane.
Earlier in the hearing, Amy Zapp, a chief deputy attorney general, testified that she had prepared a lengthy appeal of the state Superior Court decision.
"I remember thinking that it was very wrong," Zapp said. But she testified that she subsequently found out through a press release that then AG Kane had declined to file Zapp's appeal.
Zapp said the state Superior Court ruling against Fina did not change her opinion of him.
"I have a high regard for his work," Zapp said.
After a lengthy examination of his own conscience, State Superior Court Judge Victor P. Stabile has concluded that he doesn't have a conflict of interest with former Penn State President Graham Spanier.
And so yesterday, the judge in a one-sentence order denied a petition by Spanier's lawyers for recusal.
In June, Judge Stabile was the author of a 2-1 Superior Court decision that upheld Spanier's conviction last year on one count of child endangerment in connection with the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.
Spanier's lawyers had filed the motion for recusal, saying that years before he was a judge, Stabile had testified in a civil case filed against Spanier and Penn State over the fate of the Dickinson School of Law. At the time, Stabile was a graduate of DSL and a member of its alumni association who was opposed to Spanier and Penn State's plan in 2003 to relocate the law school from Carlisle to State College.
In his order issued yesterday, Stabile stated that Spanier's application for the judge's recusal and request for a re-argument on Spanier's appeal before a new panel of state Superior Court judges or the entire court was "DENIED."
In an accompanying 23-page memorandum, the judge explained his decision, saying the case where he testified against Spanier and Penn State was "a completely unrelated matter" from a dozen years earlier.
Upon receipt of Spanier's recusal motion, the judge wrote, "I engaged in a conscientious determination of my ability to assess this appeal in an impartial manner, free of bias or interest in its outcome. I can state with clear conscience that I felt no compulsion of bias, partiality, or interest in the outcome of this case to prevent me from deciding this matter solely on its merits, regardless of the fact" that the case involved Spanier.
More than 20 years ago, the judge wrote, Penn State announced that "it would affiliate and then merge with DSL located in Carlisle." During a reception, the judge said, he "briefly met" Spanier, "simply to introduce myself as a member of the DSL community." It was the only interaction he ever had with Spanier, the judge wrote.
In 2003, when PSU proposed moving DSL to State College, Carlisle "had been the home of DSL for more than 170 years," the judge wrote. As a member of the General Alumni Association of Dickinson, the judge said, he was rightly concerned, but noted he was just of many people who opposed the proposed move of the law school.
"In summary, I was one person with the GAA who joined a cacophony of people, representatives, and organizations that expressed an interest in the future of DSL and opposition to its closure and relocation to State College," the judge wrote.
In his memorandum, the judge conceded that "an appearance of impropriety may itself be enough to warrant judicial recusal." But, he wrote, the party seeking recusal "bears the burden of producing evidence to establish bias, prejudice or unfairness which raises a substantial doubt" as to a judge's ability to "preside impartially."
And if a recusal motion is filed after a decision has been rendered, "the burden of proof is more exacting," the judge wrote. He quoted the state Supreme Court as saying that "one of the strengths of our system of justice is that once decisions are made by our tribunals, they are left undisturbed."
Continuing to quote the state Supreme Court, the judge wrote that the courts generally "are loathe to reopen the controversy for another airing, save for the greatest of need."
In their motion for recusal filed, Spanier's lawyers argue that Judge Stabile had allegedly attacked Spanier in an old email as an "emperor" in "new clothes."
"I generically referenced 'PSU' and nowhere criticized any individual by name," the judge wrote.
"Where a court has specific knowledge of a private matter or situation in which his or her impartiality may reasonably be questioned, it is his duty to disclose that information to the parties."
Judge Stabile, Spanier's lawyers argued, clearly failed to meet that standard.
In his memorandum, the judge wrote that Spanier's petition wasn't timely, and that Spanier's lawyers hadn't proved any bias. After examining his own conscience for evidence of bias, or any conflict, the judge wrote that he came up empty.
And so he denied the motion.
In his memorandum, the judge noted that the two judges who were on the panel that reviewed Spanier's appeal, Judge Carolyn H. Nichols who agreed with Stabile on denying Spanier's appeal, and Judge Lillian Harris Ransom, who wrote a dissent, "did not participate in the consideration or decision of this application," referring to the judge's order denying the motion for recusal.
Sam Silver, Spanier's lawyer, declined comment.
In Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, Penn State University was being sued by its own insurance carrier. The Pennsylvania Manufacturer's Association had taken issue with the large multimillion payouts the university was awarding to 36 young men like Victim No. 4, payments to date that have totaled $118 million.
“Has anybody from Penn State ever spoken to you?" the lawyer wanted to know.
Instead, here's what happened with Swisher-Houtz. On Dec. 4, 2012, lawyers Benjamin D. Andreozzi and Jeffrey Fritz, who did not respond to requests for comment, filed a three-and-a-half-page civil claim on behalf of the alleged victim. It was reviewed on behalf of Penn State by Barbara Ziv, a consulting forensic psychiatrist from Flourtown, PA, as well as law firm headed by Kenneth Feinberg of Washington, D.C.
When asked to specify the facts of his alleged abuse, "where it happened and the date on which it happened," Swisher-Houtz's lawyers wrote, "The instances of abuse were so frequent that Mr. Swisher-Houtz cannot be expected to list them here. In summary, Mr. Sandusky forced Mr. Swisher to engage in oral sex on countless occasions and attempted to penetrate his anus. See Sandusky trial transcript or grand jury reports related to Victim No. 4." The lawyers also submitted a report on the victim's behalf from a licensed psychologist.
It could have been a rougher road to settlement. In the case of Swisher-Houtz, there was stone-cold proof on tape that the cops had deliberately lied to him to elicit more details of alleged abuse. A suspect therapist had also used widely discredited memory-recovery therapy on Victim No. 4 to elicit testimony that a prominent memory expert stated in court had no credible scientific basis.
At the very least, a skillful interrogator might have succeeded in driving down the price of a settlement. But according to Swisher-Houtz, nobody from the university ever bothered to ask him anything. Penn State just wrote out another big check in its quest to purchase an atonement from scandal.
The Conductor on the Gravy Train
The university trustee who oversaw victim settlements isn't talking, but we have some insight into his mindset thanks to a brief May 17, 2017 recorded interview between a would-be author and Ira Lubert. The Philadelphia real estate guru is the Penn State trustee who oversaw the board’s legal subcommittee, which approved the first 26 multi-million dollar settlement awarded to the alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky. Those 26 claims were subsequently ratified en masse by the entire board, after Lubert assured his fellow trustees that the claimants had been thoroughly vetted.
In a remarkably candid interview of just three and a half minutes, obtained by reporter John Ziegler, Lubert talked about the alleged victims of Sandusky, none of whom had attended Penn State. Lubert colorfully described the claimants as being lined up "at the trough" waiting on the “gravy train.”
A gravy train on which Lubert was the conductor.
Lubert blamed the university's plight on poor judgment exercised by Penn State's top officials. He was presumably talking about former university President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and Coach Joe Paterno.
In the taped interview, Lubert, who did not respond to several requests for comment, was generous in his praise of Penn State's top officials, before burying them.
"I think they did amazing things for the university," Lubert said. "But all four used poor judgment and poor leadership. And as a result of that, they couldn't continue to lead our university."
Lubert singled out Spanier for not being proactive in his discussions with other administrators about Sandusky's habit of showering with young boys, as evidenced by two separate incidents in 1998 and 2001. According to Lubert, Spanier supposedly decided, "I'm not gonna call human services or research any further whether something happened or didn't happen" when it came to Sandusky and the boys in the shower.
"And then it cost us $200 million to settle this. And he stays on as president," Lubert huffed about Spanier. "That can't happen."
Lubert turned his attention to the question of whether Penn State's top officials committed any crimes.
"I was surprised when they pled guilty," Lubert said, presumably about Schultz and Curley. "I don't think they broke the law. I think they used very poor judgment. And, as I said to you, very poor leadership . . . That doesn't make them bad people. It just means you can't work at Penn State or any other university or any company when you demonstrate that failure in leadership."
"I fired him for that reason," Lubert said, presumably talking about Spanier. "Not because he broke the law but because he used bad judgment."
Lubert talked about "all these theories" and various "snippet[s] of information" out there about the Sandusky case, and then returned to his bottom line.
"But at the end of the day, we have five people," Lubert said, presumably throwing Sandusky into the mix, along with Spanier, Schultz, Curley and Paterno.
"Two were convicted, two pled guilty and one said in hindsight, I wished I'd done more," Lubert said. He was talking in private to a would-be author who was a former Second Mile kid himself, somebody who believed that Sandusky was innocent, and that the young men who accused him of sex abuse were lying.
But Lubert wasn't buying it.
"To say you think nothing happened and that Jerry was totally innocent, I just have trouble with all of the other facts surrounding why all that happened to all those five guys," Lubert said, returning to the top Penn State officials caught up in the scandal.
Lubert repeated his mantra: Sandusky and Spanier got convicted, Curley and Schultz pled guilty, and Paterno "said when he was alive, in hindsight I'd wish I'd done more."
About the claimants, Lubert stated categorically, "They're not all victims. There's some that were on the gravy train. There's some [claims] that we settled for $100,000 that would have cost us more to litigate. But there were some real victims. . . [some who] tried to commit suicide. I was in a position to see it."
The Master of Disasters
To initiate their claims of abuse, lawyers for the alleged victims typically filed a "confidential intake questionnaire" that marked the official start of the "Feinberg & Rozen Claims Resolution Process." In a couple of cases, the victims also filed civil lawsuits where university officials and trustees were deposed.
To get paid, an alleged victim had to be a verified member of the Second Mile, Sandusky's charity for at-risk kids. It also helped to have testified against Sandusky at his criminal trial in 2012, as did eight of the 36 alleged victims, a trial where Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of abuse.
For an alleged victim to get paid, it also helped to have reports from licensed psychologists, and medical records submitted for review. To get paid, a claimant had to have his paperwork reviewed by Dr. Ziv, and receive a favorable recommendation to settle the case from the law firm of Feinberg Rozen LLP of Washington D.C.
Kenneth Feinberg, dubbed "The Master of Disasters," is the lawyer they called in to approve mass billion-dollar payouts to the victims of 9/11, the BP oil spill, the Virginia Tech shootings, and the Boston Marathon bombing. Besides presiding over terrorist attacks and natural disasters, Feinberg has overseen large billon dollar settlements in class action suits for pain and suffering caused by Agent Orange and the Dalkon Shield. In big disaster cases, Feinberg takes a global approach to settlements, rather than duking it out on one claim after another in the civil courts.
"In certain very limited types of mass disasters, there's gotta be a better way than one-by-one courts," Feinberg told The Observer in 2016. "These programs . . . do that. And they're very successful."
It was also successful for Feinberg Rozen, which, as of January 2017, had been paid $1,484,094 by Penn State, after the law firm approved the first 28 settlements in the Sandusky case.
Feinberg, responding to an email requesting comment, said there wasn't much light he could shed on the process of vetting claims at Penn State.
"The mediation process was highly confidential and I am not at liberty to answer any questions you may pose concerning the value of the claims or other related details," Feinberg wrote in an email. He referred questions to Joseph O'Dea, the lawyer who represented Penn State in the claim mediation process. O'Dea declined comment, referring questions to Lawrence Lokman, a university spokesperson.
"We have no comment for you," Lokman wrote in an email. "The university's perspective on the settlements, and Ken Feinberg's Op-ed describing the process are a matter of public record."
In that 2016 Op-ed piece, Feinberg wrote, "The [claim mediation] process was thorough, fair, respectful and characterized by full arms-length debate in each case." He described the resulting settlements as "a remarkable achievement given the high-profile nature of the cases."
"Preventing years of expensive, protracted, and uncertain litigation will save Penn State millions of dollars, while sparing the victims who brought their cases forward the agony of an extended legal battle," Feinberg wrote. "I believe the Penn State mediation is a model of how such a dispute resolution process should work."
Not everyone agreed with Feinberg's rosy assessment of the claim mediation process. In 2013, the payouts prompted the university’s insurance carrier, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association Insurance Company (PMA), to sue Penn State and the various “John Doe” claimants. The lawsuit ended three years later in a confidential settlement that lawyers in the case say they are prohibited from discussing.
“It appears as though Penn State made little effort, if any, to verify the credibility of the claims of the individuals,” Anderson wrote on October 5, 2015. In his report, Anderson decried “the absence of documentation” in the claims, saying in many cases there was “no signed affidavit, statement or other means of personal verification of the information which I reviewed."
The lawyer suggested that “potential punitive damages . . . factored into Penn State’s evaluations,” along with “a concern about publicity and a desire to resolve the matters very quickly.”
The Catholic Comparison
The average settlement at Penn State was $3.3 million, more than double the highest average settlements paid out to alleged victims of sex abuse in the Catholic clergy scandals, such as in:
-- Boston, where the church in 2003 paid $85 million to 552 alleged victims, an average settlement of $153,985.
-- Los Angeles, where the church in 2006 paid $60 million to 45 alleged victims, an average of $1.3 million.
-- Los Angeles, where the church in 2007 paid $660 million to 508 alleged victims, an average of $1.3 million.
-- San Diego, where the church in 2007 paid $198 million to 144 alleged victims, an average of $1.4 million.
Throwing Gasoline on a Fire
Gary Langsdale, the university’s risk officer, was deposed in the insurance case on May 30, 2014. At the deposition, Engelmyer, the insurance carrier’s lawyer, asked Langsdale if he had any concerns about the impact the Freeh Report would have on claims of abuse.
“The report seemed to throw gasoline on a fire,” Langsdale replied.
"Tell me what steps Penn State took to confirm that the claimants that they were paying are, in fact credible and were telling true stories," the lawyer asked.
"I read through the material that was provided by the victim's attorney, considered it in context with what we were told by Dr. [Barbara] Ziv was Mr. Sandusky's pattern of abuse, listened to Feinberg and Rozen on the subject, listened to Dr. Ziv on the subject," Langsdale testified.
The lawyer asked Langsdale if he had any concerns that Dr. Ziv, the psychologist hired by the university as an expert to evaluate claims, “did not interview any of the first 26 or so victims who received payments from Penn State?”
"Why not," Engelmyer asked.
"Because I thought the process is robust enough to give us a good picture of the claims," Langsdale said.
Dr. Ziv could not be reached for comment. She was a prominent witness at the Bill Cosby rape trial, where she testified about common "rape myths" regarding the behavior of victims of sex abuse. One of those myths, Dr. Ziv told the jury, was that victims lie.
No more than seven percent of sex abuse claims are false, Dr. Ziv told the jury. She added that the actual percentage of false claims could be as low as two percent.
Dr. Ziv was clearly a believer in the overall veracity of alleged victims of sexual abuse, so it makes sense why she wouldn't have to personally interview alleged victims to certify their accounts as true. University officials, however, subsequently decided to change their hands-off approach to claimants, when it came to having a psychiatrist review those claims.
In 2015, the university began hiring psychiatrists to examine the claimants, beginning with Skyler Coover, No. 29 on the list, who was paid $7 million. The exams didn't seem to lower the price of settlements. Besides Coover, six more claimants were examined by university psychiatrists, and all seven of those victims collected a total of $27.8 million, or $3.97 million each.
In contrast to Dr. Ziv's faith in the veracity of alleged victims of abuse, a judge recently questioned the credibility of Glenn Neff, an alleged victim of Sandusky's who was attempting to gain immediate access to the confidential settlement of $7 million that he received last year from Penn State.
According to the Chester County Daily Local News, on July 17th, Chester County Judge William P. Mahon "angrily dismissed" a request to transfer assets from Neff's multimillion-dollar settlement that was sought by a Delaware-based financial firm. The newspaper did not name Neff as a victim, because of a typical media policy of self-censorship when it comes to alleged victims of sex abuse, but Neff's name was printed on legal documents in the case.
According to the newspaper, the Delaware firm sought court approval of a plan to convert $2.99 million from Neff's 2017 settlement into $850,000 in cash. In court, Neff testified that he needed the money to bolster his tree-trimming business and his wife wanted to expand a beauty salon.
But Judge Mahon said the proposed settlement, the third in the case, was "riddled with sketchy assertions about [Neff's] financial well-being that were contradicted by statements" Neff made in court.
"I am beginning to wonder what the heck is going on," the judge said, adding "these petitions are completely unreliable."
"This is abysmal," the judge said, before declaring, "Petition dismissed." The judge compared the behavior of the many firms seeking to gain access to Neff's settlement by offering immediate cash to "sharks with blood in the water."
In his claim, Neff alleged that he was sexually abused by Sandusky "on multiple dates between January 2004 and May 2005," including oral and anal rapes, but didn't tell anybody about it until 2016.
As he left the hearing, according to the story filed by reporter Michael Rellahan, Neff refused to answer a reporter's questions, and Neff's wife "shouted before making an obscene gesture while boarding an elevator."
As part of their concerted effort to turn the page on the Sandusky scandal, Penn State's board of trustees decided not to publicly contest any of the findings of the Freeh Report. Even though behind closed doors, some trustees were highly critical of the work done by the former FBI director.
In response to questions from Engelmeyer, Peetz criticized Freeh for an "overreach" when he accused Penn State officials of concealing Sandusky's conduct, and having a "striking lack of apathy" for victims.
"His spin on the situation," was how Peetz characterized Freeh's criticisms. When the university hired Freeh, Peetz testified, she expected "nothing but the facts."
Peetz also stated that she had no idea until she read the Freeh Report that the NCAA was relying on it to punish the university.
"Were you aware that they [the NCAA] were using the Freeh Report as a factual basis for the imposition . . . of sanctions?" Engelmyer asked.
"No," Peetz said.
"When did you first find out?" the lawyer asked. "Was it when you read it?"
"Yes," she said.
But, according to Peetz, rather than take issue with Freeh, a majority of trustees decided to roll over.
She added, "There's a group of trustees who would like to do that."
"It just doesn't make sense."
While Penn State took a hands-off approach to investigating claims of abuse, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had a practice of hiring private detectives to investigate claims.
Jack Rossiter, a former FBI agent of 30 years, investigated more than 150 cases of alleged sex abuse as a private detective employed by the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia between 2003 and 2007.
In a situation involving national publicity, like the Jerry Sandusky case, Rossiter said, you'd have to be on guard for criminals and drug addicts coming forward to seek a pay day.
"With national headlines and all these people lining up, you'd have to be more skeptical" of the claims, Rossiter said.
"Obviously, you have to do a detailed interview" with each alleged victim, he said, asking questions such as, "Who did you tell, when did you tell them? And who can corroborate your story?"
"That's what you do, you investigate," Rossiter said. "The key," he said, is to find corroboration for the victim's story, to see if their stories hold up.
"A good interviewer could have broken somebody who was fabricating something," Rossiter said. Especially if you drag them through all the details of what the Penn State locker room looked like, to determine "whether they were really in the shower."
The surest way to spot a fake, Rossiter said, is to come at their story from the opposite point of view.
In investigating cases for the archdiocese, Rossiter said, "I have to go into it believing the victim is telling the truth." If the detective merely tried to help the church cover up abuse, "I'm of no value to anyone," Rossiter said.
So he always gave the victim "a clean slate," the benefit of the doubt, Rossiter said. Then, the former FBI agent set out to try and corroborate the victims' stories. In seeking proof, Rossiter went as far as to polygraph priests accused of abuse.
As far as the Penn State case was concerned, Rossiter was surprised to hear that apparently not one of the 36 alleged victims supposedly told anyone about the attacks when they allegedly occurred -- a period that spanned nearly four decades.
If a pedophile was running loose for that long, "You would think someone would pick it up," Rossiter said. "Either at school or the parents or a close friend."
Rossiter was also troubled by the use of recovered memories by many alleged victims of Sandusky.
"I always have my doubts about that," he said. The radically changing stories of many of the victims was another source of concern for an investigator playing defense on claims. Rossiter said he couldn't understand why the university didn't do more to investigate claims of abuse.
It sounds like "they just got a pool of money together and said let's buy everybody off and get this damn thing behind us," Rossiter said. "It just doesn't make sense."
But when Andreozzi first came to see him on April 5, 2011, Swisher-Houtz wasn’t cooperative, and didn’t say anything had happened to him. Two days later, when a state police corporal knocked on his door, Swisher-Houtz said he wanted to talk to his lawyer before he talked to police.
During the first 50 minutes of questioning, as recounted in trial transcripts, Swisher-Houtz told the troopers about wrestling matches with Sandusky, and how Sandusky would pin him to the floor with his genitals allegedly stuck in the boy’s face. Then, Sandusky would allegedly kiss and lick the inside of the boy’s legs, Swisher-Houtz claimed. That prompted Trooper Rossman to ask if Sandusky would kiss or lick his testicles.
Cops Caught Lying
“First, it was, 'Yeah, he would rub my shoulders;' then it took repetition and repetition and finally, we got to the point where he [Fisher] would tell us what happened,” Leiter said. The troopers talked about how they were sure Swisher-Houtz was another rape victim, and they discussed how to get more details out of him.
By the time Sandusky went on trial on June 11, 2012, Swisher-Houtz was the prosecution’s leadoff witness. He testified that for years Sandusky had inserted his penis into the boy’s mouth two or three times a week while they showered, sometimes with Sandusky ejaculating. It happened “40 times at least,” Swisher-Houtz told the jury.
Sandusky also attempted to anally rape him in the shower, the witness claimed, but that he pushed Sandusky off “with all my might” and got away.
Author Mark Pendergrast wrote a book about the Sandusky case. He's skeptical about Swisher-Houtz’s claims of repressed memories of abuse, as well as similar claims from three of the eight other alleged victims who testified against Sandusky at trial.
“All of the recovered memories in the Sandusky case are most certainly false,” said Pendergrast, who wrote The Most Hated Man In America; Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment, a book that's been excerpted on Big Trial.
“They shouldn’t even be called memories," Pendergrast said about so-called repressed memories of abuse; "they’re confabulations.”
In Silent No More, a 2012 book Gillum co-authored with Fisher and his mother, Gillum wrote that he saw his job as “peeling back the layers of the onion” in Fisher’s mind to uncover hidden memories of abuse.
“Look, I know that something terrible happened to you,” Gillum told Fisher at the first session. And then Gillum would guess how Sandusky had abused Fisher. The patient simply had to say “yes,” or just nod his head to confirm the allegation that Sandusky had committed a sex crime.
“Mike just kept saying that Jerry was the exact profile of a predator,” Fisher wrote in Silent No More. “When it finally sank in, I felt angry.”
When asked if Sandusky had forced him to engage in oral sex, Fisher denied it. Gillum then volunteered to testify on his client’s behalf, on the grounds that the teenager was too emotionally fragile to continue. But that didn't happen. When a second grand jury convened to investigate Sandusky, Fisher testified by reading a written statement about his alleged abuse.
In 2016, Gillum also began counseling Glenn Neff, another alleged victim, who, according to Neff's claim of abuse, "will be seen in psychotherapy with Michael Gillum, M.A., for the foreseeable future."
“Everything we know about the science of memory shows that the things that we remember the best are the most traumatic events that happen to us." The problem people have with traumatic memories, Pendergrast said, is they can’t forget them.
“That’s what PTSD is,” Pendergrast said, referring to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. “There’s no convincing evidence whatsoever that people can forget years of traumatic events.”
About the alleged victims, Kelly said, “It was incredibly difficult for some of them to unearth long-buried memories of the shocking abuse they suffered at the hands of this defendant.”
No Credible Scientific Support
Another critic of recovered memory therapy is Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, one of the world’s foremost experts on the malleability of human memory. Loftus, who testified at a hearing on behalf of Sandusky’s unsuccessful bid for a new trial, has given lectures to the Secret Service and FBI; she also has a contract to work for the CIA
“You can plant entirely false memories in the minds of people for events that never happened,” she explained. And once those false memories are planted, she told the judge, people will relate those memories as if they were true, “complete with high levels of detail and emotion.”
On November 29, 2011, Rittmeyer called the Pennsylvania state attorney general’s sex abuse hotline; he subsequently became Victim “No. 10” in the Sandusky case.
“Jerry Sandusky never owned a silver convertible,” said Dick Anderson, a retired coach who was a colleague of Sandusky’s for decades on the Penn State coaching staff, and has known Sandusky since 1962, when they were Nittany Lions teammates. “He drove Fords or Hondas.”
Assistant coaches drove cars donated by local dealers, Brooks said. That’s because they had to pick up star high school recruits at airports, as well as their families. The cars the assistant coaches drove, Brooks said, needed to have four doors and a big trunk for luggage.
The Grooming Process
According to records of the claims, Zachary Konstas, the 11 year-old boy who took a shower with Sandusky back in 1998, was of the few claimants who was actually deposed. On June 18, 2015, Konstas was videotaped during a deposition he gave in a civil case, John Doe 6 v. Penn State, The Second Mile and Gerald Sandusky.
It was Konstas's mother who was the first person to complain to authorities after she found out that her son had taken a shower with Sandusky. When questioned by police, Sandusky admitted that he had given the boy a bear-hug in the shower, and lifted him up to the shower head so he could wash shampoo out of his hair, but he denied any sexual abuse, as did Konstas.
Various authorities came to the same conclusion. After an investigation by the Penn State police, the Centre County District Attorney and a psychologist and investigator on behalf of the county’s Children and Youth Services, no evidence of sex abuse was found.
One of those rejected claims was filed by by an inmate. Shamont Sapp, 49, acting as his own lawyer claimed that from 1978 to 1984, Sandusky took him along on trips where he met with the commissioner of the Big 8 conference in St. Louis, attended Celtics games in Boston, and visited the home of the late former PSU President John Oswald.
Sapp also claimed that Sandusky frequently paid him for sex with Sandusky and other men, including former Centre County D.A. Ray Gricar, who disappeared in 2005 and was subsequently declared dead.
Sapp, who in his claim explained that he didn't testify at Sandusky's trial because he "was in prison in Oklahoma at the time," pled guilty to assault in 1999, and pled guilty to theft by deception in 2015.
In a letter to a judge, Sapp made some more allegations, claiming that he spoke to PSU President Spanier on the phone in 2011 and told him he had been sexually assaulted by Sandusky, and that Spanier called him a liar. In the same letter, Sapp claimed that "Joe Paterno caught us once in Sandusky's office naked from the waist down."
But not even Penn State was willing to grant a settlement from a guy who was filing his claim from jail, because they rejected Sapp's claim.
"It Just Doesn't Make Common Sense"
Retired Detective Joe Walsh testified and wrote in a 12-page affidavit that he repeatedly caught Gallagher in one lie after another, and that Gallagher even admitted to the detective that he “just made up stuff and told them anything.”
But at least Gallagher had to work for his money. In his civil case against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Gallagher was examined extensively by two forensic psychiatrists, who found him non-credible. Gallagher also had to submit to two full days of depositions, where he handled all the factual contradictions in his many changing stories of abuse by claiming he didn't remember more than 130 times.
Gallagher's lawyer also claims that Gallagher passed a polygraph test. But when asked for proof, the lawyer has repeatedly declined to share the results of the test, which is not admissible in court.
A problem for the archdiocese, however, was that Gallagher's civil case was slated to go to trial the month before Pope Francis was scheduled to visit Philadelphia for a historic visit in September 2015. Church officials, who had been skeptical of Gallagher's claims, subsequently decided to settle the case and pay the former altar boy $5 million.
Here, the story takes a couple of incredulous turns.
Even more incredibly, Quinn claimed that the next day, he tracked down legendary Coach Paterno in a hallway outside the coach’s office and supposedly confronted Paterno about what Sandusky had allegedly done to him.
According to Quinn's claim, Paterno allegedly replied, “I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about.”
When he first heard the details of Quinn’s allegations, Franco Harris, a Penn State star from the 1970s, and an NFL Hall-of-Famer, told reporter John Ziegler that Quinn’s story about allegedly tracking down and confronting Paterno was “unbelievable . . . It just doesn’t make common sense.”
Quinn's lawyer, Slade McLaughlin, who also represented Glenn Neff, continues to defend his clients.
"All of my Penn State clients were solid people, and told the truth as far I know," McLaughlin wrote in an email. "If I had reason to disbelieve a client's story, I either rejected the case or had the client undergo a lie detector test. Not that facts like that matter to a so-called journalist like you. . . . You are a low life, bottom of the pit scumbag . . ."
By Ralph Cipriano
Wading through that thick grand jury report issued by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro on the Catholic Church was like touring a cemetery.
Out of the 250 or so alleged predator priests whose alleged perverted exploits are chronicled in the report's 1,356 pages, I counted at least 117 confirmed dead bodies. Another 13 of these ancient men of the cloth who were born before 1940 had the dates of their deaths listed in the report as "unknown."
Some of these codgers were born back in the 1920s; the birthday of the most ancient alleged pervert was way back in 1896, seven years before the Wright Brothers flew their first airplane.
The most ancient predator priest whose death could be confirmed was born in 1869, four years after the Civil War ended. Another alleged predator priest laid out in the report had been dead since 1950, before Eisenhower was president. The crimes these priests allegedly committed against children in six dioceses around the state were from the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. One alleged victim, identified as Bob from Reading, was 83.
Was this news? Or something that should have run on the History Channel?
In Philadelphia, the attorney general's report brought back memories of the groundbreaking 2005 grand jury report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia done by former D.A. Lynne Abraham.
"There's nothing new here; it's the same playbook," said Alan J. Tauber, a criminal defense lawyer whose priestly abuse clients include Msgr. William J. Lynn. According to Tauber, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro "took the [Philadelphia] grand jury report and he like replicated that, he served subpoenas, he got the secret archive files; they [the AG's office] basically replicated" the Philadelphia grand jury report of 2005.
Certainly the evasive tactics of the church to keep the clergy's sins out of the courts and the newspapers were familiar, as if the six dioceses profiled in the report were all operating out of the same playbook used in Philadelphia.
Which they were.
As for counselor Tauber, he was just getting warmed up.
"This report is like the explorer, John Cabot, who lands on Cape Cod in 1497," Tauber declared. "And the press is treating Cabot like he's Christopher Columbus, and he just discovered America."
Ah the press. Over at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where criminal indictments are typically treated as though the prosecutor, face glistening, just brought them down from Mount Sinai, it was a jail break. The Inky's social justice warriors cranked out seven news stories and a column decrying the church's historic sins as though it had just happened yesterday.
From the look of the Inky's front page, you would have thought that the terrorists had flown airplanes into a couple of skyscrapers again, or we had just landed an astronaut on Mars. Instead, some headline-seeking prosecutor -- Shapiro --had just issued an autopsy report on one of the media's favorite whipping boys, the Roman Catholic Church. And on the Inky's front page, Josh was getting the treatment reserved for unfolding natural disasters.
"Thank God for the criminal investigators and prosecutors," raved crusading columnist Maria Panaritis. "Thank God for the grand jury subpoenas . . . Thank God for the courage of the victims. For without them, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and his team would have had no real case to root out and unveil decades of depravity and systemic abuse by clergy, overseen by complicit [churchc] superiors."
A separate story detailed a child porn ring in Pittsburgh run by priests in the 1970s. Three of those priests were arrested 30 years ago on unrelated sex abuse charges.
Note to the guys in black robes -- maybe it's not such a great idea to hang onto all those records you've been hoarding under lock and key for so many decades on the orders of the Vatican. Have you guys ever heard of a shredder? It would have saved a lot of grief.
Over at the law office of Lynne Abraham, the former D.A. didn't seem upset by the knock-off report that Shapiro cranked out.
"Didn't you know that imitation is still the sincerest form of flattery," Abraham wrote in an email. She too was struck by the similarities between what happened in Philadelphia, and what happened in the six other dioceses around the state.
"It's as though the priests learn how to read and then pass out a script -- 'How to molest little kids,'" Abraham said about the familiar grooming tactics of the alleged predators. As far as Abraham was concerned, she'd be happy if there were more grand jury reports on sex abuse.
"Every prosecutor in the country should be doing the same thing, but it will be the same report over and over again, this time naming thousands," she said. "Sexual perversion runs deep and continuous in the priesthood. After all, it's been going on for centuries."
And to prove it, all you have to do is read the AG's report. As far as Josh Shapiro was concerned, everything old was new again.
"We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this," the report says. "We know some of you have heard some of it before. There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere."
The AG's claim to fame was record numbers -- after all, they had rounded up 300 alleged predator priests who had allegedly raped and abused more than 1,000 victims.
By comparison, the AG pointedly noted, Boston only had between 150 to 250 predator priests, Philadelphia, only 60 predator priests, and Altoona-Johnston, only 50 predator priests.
The AG's report did detail some fresh perversions -- notably a priest during the early 1980s who, after allegedly forcing a boy to give him oral sex, allegedly washed the boy's mouth out with a squirt of purifying holy water, a fresh supply of which the padre just happened to be carrying.
The alleged perpetrator, however, Father Thomas J. Benestad, a former pastor who's 73 and retired, the report noted, "vehemently denies" the accusations.
The AG report stated that a church investigation had sided with Benestad and that a local D.A. had said the alleged crimes were past the state of limitations, so no charges were ever filed. Other than the lurid charges stated in church records by the same dumb guys who write down everything and keep it forever, there was no other proof offered by the AG that these crimes had actually happened.
Then there was Father Gregory Flohr, who, back in 1969, allegedly used a rope to tie up an altar boy in the confessional, before allegedly sodomizing him with a crucifix, sized 7" by 5" by 1."
Father Flohr could not be reached for comment, as he's been dead for 14 years.
Now, we all know that Catholic priests have done many horrible things to many children, and that bishops conspired to systematically cover it up. But perhaps some skepticism is required because the charges contained in the AG's report are accusations and there will be little due process since only two of the 300 priests mentioned in the report could be charged with crimes.
Here in Philadelphia, we know that not every accusation of sex abuse turns out to be true.
We once had a former altar boy named Danny Gallagher who claimed that a priest allegedly stripped him naked, tied him up with altar sashes and proceeded to rape him inside the church. Gallagher also claimed that another priest allegedly held him captive in the sacristy and behind locked doors, anally raped him for five hours. Gallagher also claimed that a schoolteacher who gave him a ride home in his car allegedly strangled the altar boy with a seat belt while beating him and raping him.
All of those accusations were dutifully written down in church records, but none of it turned out to true. The lead detective in the case came forward to testify that he caught Gallagher telling many lies, and that Gallagher had even admitted to the detective that he had made up many of his stories of abuse. As a result of the detective coming forward, the schoolteacher who had been convicted of rape, got out of jail nearly a dozen years early.
It was too late, however, to help one of the accused priests, who died in jail.
Of course, while the detective was coming forward and Danny Gallagher's credibility was going up in smoke, the Inquirer willfully ignored it, except for running a brief AP story when the schoolteacher got out of jail. Now that's what you call objective reporting.
And sometimes, even an accusation from a certified victim turns out to be not true.
For example, that 2005 grand jury report on the Philadelphia archdiocese lists a victim named Ruth who was repeatedly raped as a child by a predator priest who got her pregnant, and then paid for an abortion.
Decades later, after Ruth got into therapy, she started telling wild stories about black Masses held underground at the seminary, and a ceremony where she was allegedly "married" to the archbishop of Philadelphia, who, supposedly, along with other priests, proceeded to rape her on the altar.
Detectives determined that the stories weren't credible. A group of sympathetic women who organized to support Ruth disbanded, after they came to the same conclusion.
When the Philadelphia D.A.'s office put priests on trial in 2012 for abuse, Ruth showed up in the courtroom as an observer. I asked a prosecutor why he didn't put Ruth up on the witness stand. He smiled and said if he did that, it would be a gift to the church's defense lawyers.
Shapiro was on safer ground when he talked about the institutional coverup in the church.
"The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid 'scandal,'" the report said. "Abuse complaints were kept locked up in a 'secret archive.' That is not our word but theirs; the church's Code of Canon Law specifically requires the diocese to maintain such an archive. Only the bishop can have the key."
Yeah, yeah, here in Philly, we heard all that 13 years ago, in the grand jury report on the Philadelphia archdiocese. The playbook when the church discovered they had an alleged pervert priest on their hands was always the same. Send the padre off for evaluation at a church-run psychiatric center. Diagnose whether the priest was a pedophile by asking the priest if he was a pedophile. If he denied it, there was no proof.
If a priest had to be removed, "don't say why," the AG's grand jury report said. Tell the parishioners he's on sick leave, or suffering from nervous exhaustion. Or don't say anything. Just ship him off to another parish, where he can set up shop again with fresh victims. And for God's sake, don't bother telling anybody.
On This Week, David Zubik, the bishop of Pittsburgh, told host George Stephanopoulos, "The church of Pittsburgh today is not the church described in the grand jury report."
The bishop's right, and that applies as well here in Philadelphia.
They may have done it only because they had a gun held to their heads, but the bishops have been forced to clean up their act. In Philadelphia, a recent case with one of Alan Tauber's more notorious clients, Father Mark Haynes, illustrates that point.
In 2015, the cops caught Haynes going on the net and posing as a teenage girl, while the priest was seeking to solicit naked photos from other girls.
The day after he was arrested, the archdiocese booted Father Haynes out of the rectory. There was no church-ordered therapy at a church-run institution, no cover-up, no transfer to another parish, not even an offer to provide Haynes with counseling.
Instead, Haynes was out. Days later, in every pulpit of the archdiocese, a priest read a statement from the church outing Father Haynes as an alleged predator priest under arrest, and asking any past victims to come foreword.
Two adults did just that, claiming that 30 years ago, they'd been abused by the priest. The statements of the two alleged victims jacked up the sentencing guidelines for Father Haynes, who had pleaded guilty to seven counts of child pornography and destruction of evidence.
In 2016, a judge sentenced the 56-year-old priest to 20 years in jail, a $15,000 fine, and upon his release, ten years of supervised probation. The priest also was said to be cooperating with a voluntary laicization process where he would be defrocked.
"The archdiocese's response was an up-to-the-minute textbook response to allegations like this," Tauber said.
Yes, thanks to the efforts of prosecutors like Lynne Abraham, there's been a radical change in the behavior of the bishops. But it didn't get much notice in the media hoopla over Shapiro's report.
To sum up, Shapiro's knock-off report about ancient sex crimes in the church didn't tell us anything new. But the coverage of it now serves as a fresh example of media bias.
He was the only son of the Big Bambino, but even that couldn't save him from the political firestorm over DROP.
Seven years ago, Frank "Franny" Rizzo Jr. was one of a half-dozen incumbent City Council members who -- under the city's extravagantly generous Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP -- were eligible to "retire" for a day at the end of their terms, collect six-figure cash bonuses, and then, upon winning reelection (and making a quick trip to the bank), go right back to work the next day.
This being Philadelphia, it was all completely legal.
The rest of the story in Philadelphia magazine can be read here.
During a party, he allegedly lured her to an upstairs room and pinned her down on a bed, clumsily trying to pull off her clothes and bathing suit. When she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth. Only when his friend Mark Judge fell atop both of them in his own lustful efforts did she manage to escape and run out. The two boys were “stumbling drunk,” as she may have been as well.
What seems clear is that Kavanaugh is lying when he says he did not drink heavily in high school or college. I might be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt except for this.
I am glad that a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation was delayed for a week so that such an investigation will hopefully take place, with time for more potential witnesses to come forward. And the recovered memory aspect should be explored thoroughly. Thus far, it is mostly a matter of he-said-she-said.
By Ralph Cipriano and George Anastasia
As president and CEO of the gigantic Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, Sonny DiCrecchio, AKA "Sonny D," was always doing good deeds for those in need. Like sending a boy stricken with cancer to the Super Bowl. Or taking 135 homeless kids from a shelter out on a shopping spree to buy Christmas presents.
"A Person Never Stands So Tall As When They Kneel To Help A Child -- Sonny D." That's the quote that volunteers wore on the backs of their matching purple jerseys when they chaperoned the annual "Sonny D's Holliday Shopping Party," sponsored by Sonny and his wife, Michelle.
"It's beautiful what Sonny and Michelle do for the children,"said Karen Patton-Faucett, assistant director of Stenton Family Manor, a shelter for families, during a 2016 tribute video to Sonny D posted on youtube.com. Over the years, the scores of volunteers who flocked to Sonny D's annual shopping party to help homeless kids pick out presents and wrap them included then-Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb.
But they may have to cancel the party this year. A woman who answered the phone at the produce market said that Sonny D "resigned" suddenly on Aug. 15th, and left without leaving much forwarding information. Meanwhile, a forensic accountant is digging through the market's financial records, searching for missing money that's said to be between $3 million and $5 million. The FBI is on the case; agents interviewed Sonny D voluntarily for three days, without benefit of a lawyer. As a result, multiple sources say, Sonny's in big trouble. Instead of a do-gooder, the feds see him as a scam artist who financed his good deeds with stolen money.
When he talked to the feds in August, several sources say, DiCrecchio basically confessed to taking the money. The feds, according to those same sources, told DiCrecchio he was going to jail, and if he wanted to make things easier on himself, the only option left was to become a cooperator.
The feds grilled DiCrecchio about his relationships with a couple of convicted felons, former mobster George Borgesi, and former state senator Vincent J. Fumo, both of whom had contracts down at the produce center. The feds wanted DiCrecchio to wear a wire on Borgesi and Fumo, as well DiCrecchio's bosses on the produce market's board of directors.
The FBI also wanted DiCrecchio to front a sting operation where he would dispense money advanced by the feds to targets of the investigation, so the feds could trace what they did with the money. The feds, underworld sources say, told DiCrecchio they wanted him to be their "5K1 boy," but Sonny D had no idea what they were talking about. The feds were referring to Section 5K1.1 of the federal sentencing guidelines that allow for a reduction in a mandatory minimum sentence for a cooperator who renders "substantial assistance" during a federal investigation.
Sonny D could not be reached for comment, and he claims he doesn't have the money to hire a lawyer. But in a lengthy, 1,500-word email to his former bosses, DiCrecchio admitted that he made "mistakes . . . over money." And that as a result of the scandal, he's a "broken soul" seeking forgiveness.
But one thing he wasn't willing to do to "save his ass," he wrote, was wear a wire. He also, according to sources, refused to participate in any sting operation. As Sonny D bitterly wrote to his former bosses, he may be getting treated like he's "some thief" who's the "scum of the earth," but Sonny D's no rat.
The wholesale produce market, which does about $1.5 billion worth of business annually, is an enormous facility built on 20 acres of formerly abandoned land in the old Philadelphia Auto Mall on Essington Avenue in Southwest Philly.
When the $218 million facility opened in 2011, it was billed as the "world's largest fully-enclosed, fully-refrigerated wholesale produce terminal." The Philadelphia Inquirer described the new facility in a headline as the "world's largest freezer." The main building where DiCrecchio used to work, is a quarter-mile long, bigger than 14 football fields, and employs 1,500 workers.
Fruit peddlers and grocery store owners flock to the wholesale produce market to buy fruits and vegetables grown locally as well as around the globe. The produce is sold in the Italian Market, at the Reading Terminal, and in stores all over the city.
But the word is out about the scandal. For more than a month, fruit peddlers, merchants and mobsters have been buzzing about Sonny D and the missing millions.
"It's all hush-hush down there," one fruit peddler said. "They're not saying anything."
The produce market's board of directors are a frequent target of criticism.
"They look stupid," a merchant said. "How could they not have known what was going on," said another.
THE FEDS MOVE IN
In 2011, Borgesi was acquitted of 14 counts in a federal racketeering case. But federal authorities are now raising questions about how the lighting contract was awarded. Borgesi, through associates, has insisted it was a legitimate business deal and that the highly efficient lighting systems will prove to be an economic benefit and save money over the long haul.
But Borgesi is an ex-con that the feds are stilling keeping tabs on. In 2001, Borgesi was convicted along with mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and five others in another high-profile racketeering case, and served a 14-year prison sentence. Since he got out of jail, Borgesi has been associated with various companies such as mortgage lending, electrical lighting and glass installation.
Both Borgesi and his lawyer declined comment for this story. Through associates, however, Borgesi has claimed that all of his business ventures are legitimate. And that all the unwarranted attention from law enforcement makes it more difficult for Borgesi and those who work for him to make an honest living.
An FBI spokesperson declined comment; a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment.
According to underworld sources, when the feds came to see him, Sonny D argued that Borgesi had done his time and deserved a second chance. The feds, according to those same sources, replied that Borgesi, who beat murder charges when he was convicted of racketeering in 2011, should have done more time.
DiCrecchio and the produce center have a history of dealing with at least one company tied to organized crime. From 2000 to 2010, the produce center had a contract with TopJob, a trash hauler that formerly employed Uncle Joe Ligambi as a salesman. The former mob boss's involvement in the market was detailed in a 2011 racketeering indictment.
According to the feds, TopJob was paid about $17,000 a week to remove trash from the old produce center. Federal authorities alleged that Ligambi's position as a salesman with TopJob was a no-show job for which the mob boss received a weekly salary of $500 to $1,000, plus medical benefits.
Authorities alleged that Ligambi and his family accrued more than $220,000 in medical costs which were paid by insurance companies while Ligambi was a TopJob employee. The government also charged Ligambi with insurance fraud.
But over the course of two trials the government failed to prove its case. DiCreccho testified as a witness, and claimed the trash hauling contract was legitimate. The jury must have believed him; Ligambi was found not guilty of most of the charges he faced. And, after the second trial, the government opted not to pursue two remaining charges that two juries had deadlocked on.
But as far as authorities were concerned, Ligambi was up to no good.
In a 2011, the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation [SCI] cited Ligambi's involvement in TopJob in a report that focused on the mob's alleged incursion into the trash-hauling business. "Uncle Joe" was one of nearly a dozen reputed mob figures linked to various trash companies in the Garden State. The SCI report focused on what authorities described as "garbage mobsters" who had a "hidden hand" in the trash industry.
TopJob is long gone from the wholesale produce market, but FBI agents questioned DiCrecchio about a current trash-hauling contract with another company that the feds thought was suspicious. After DiCreccho departed from the produce market in August, the entire board of directors resigned. A new nine-member board of directors that took office promptly replaced the trash hauler, as well as a firm that was handling recycling down at the produce market.
The new chairman of the board, George Binck of Procacci Bros. Sales Corp., did not respond to a request for comment.
THE FUMO CONNECTION
Sonny D and the former state senator had a working relationship dating back to when Fumo lined up $150 million in state aid to build the new produce center. Prior to Fumo's intervention, DiCrecchio told a federal judge at Fumo's sentencing in 2009, the produce market had negotiated a deal with then Gov. Jim McGreevey to move their operation across the river to New Jersey.
Over a seven-year period, DiCrecchio told the judge, "He [Fumo] was relentless" in getting the deal done to keep the produce market in Philadelphia, "At every meeting, every meeting, he was pushing."
Fumo, who declined comment, was convicted in 2009 on 137 counts of corruption. After serving a four-year sentence, he started a consulting business advising companies on how to deal with government.
THE LAST WORD
Sonny D had presided over the market for 20 years when he suddenly departed in August. His old bosses may have locked him out, but Sonny D insisted on having the last word. That same month, DiCrecchio sent out his long email to members of the market's board of directors, the subject of which was listed as "My apology to all."
In the email, DiCrecchio expressed regrets over "mistakes" he admitted to making "over money," but put some of that blame on his bosses, for chronically underpaying him.
"The very first thing and most important thing I would like to say to everyone is that I AM DEEPLY SORRY FOR MY ACTIONS," DiCrecchio wrote. "The regrets I have run so deep that I cannot put it into words. I am so sorry to disappoint so many."
The problem, DiCrecchio said, was that because he wasn't compensated adequately, he was always short on money.
"All the guts and determination I had to stand up to politicians, bureaucrats, attorneys and outright bullies in the system to represent you for 20 years was endless," DiCrecchio wrote his bosses. "But I never had the guts and determination to ask you all for the compensation I deserved for the job I was doing."
"I am not asking anyone to say I had the right or to feel in anyway I deserved to do what I did," he wrote.
"I just ask you to put the good I did on the other side of the scale and not to just judge me on the wrongs," he wrote. "GOD help everyone if they had to be judged on only the wrongs or mistakes they made in life, and [were] never given an ounce of credit for ANYTHING they did that was good."
A STAND-UP GUY
It was a sentiment that DiCrecchio previously expressed on the witness stand back in 2009 when he testified on Fumo's behalf at the former senator's sentencing. It was a ballsy decision by DiCrecchio. At the time, most people that Fumo thought were his friends, such as current Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, were running away from from the former senator as fast as they could.
But Sonny D was headed the opposite way.
"I never actually knew the senator as a social friend, but I will say that after the trial was over, I befriended him," DiCrecchio told the judge. "And I honestly did it because I looked at the whole process and I just thought that was unfair," DiCrecchio said about the five-month long trial of Fumo.
"And I just wanted to say that I, you know, I felt, from a man, if you open any of us and just tell it bad, that it's, you know, God knows where we're going to go," DiCrecchio said. "So I just thought that it was my duty to come and say what I needed to say."
The day he showed up to testify, DiCrecchio told the judge how, at the request of Fumo, he had launched a salvage operation down at the market manned by volunteers who sorted through discarded produce to make donations to Philabundance, the Philadelphia food bank that feeds the homeless.
The salvage program that DiCrecchio set up, at Fumo's request, resulted in the wholesale produce market donating to Philabundance three million pounds of produce a year to feed the homeless, DiCrecchio told the startled judge, who gasped, "Three million?"
"Three million pounds a year, yes," DiCrecchio repeated.
Eight years later, writing to his bosses at the food distribution center, DiCrecchio once again argued that the good that men do often gets overlooked, especially when they screw up, only this time he was talking about himself.
"I did not molest kids, sell drugs, scheme with people to deceive you, kill anyone," DiCrecchio wrote his former bosses. "I was asked by the government to set up board members so they could investigate them for taking cash from their own businesses, so I could save my ass. I told them I would not do that if my life depended on it."
In the email to his bosses, DiCrecchio talked about all the charitable events he had sponsored over the years.
Meanwhile, when it came to his personal life, DiCrecchio wrote, he was always short on cash. He had to pay for a summer rental home "after I lost my family's money on a bad house deal and did not have the heart or guts to tell them we could not afford it."
But he was always a hardworking employee, DiCrecchio wrote. So hardworking that during his 20 years at the market, he only took three vacations, twice to Disney World, once to St. John's Island.
"My job was 24/7 and I loved my job!!!," DiCrecchio wrote. He talked about his accomplishments that saved the market money, such as a trash contract that cost $1 million a year, until "I brought in another company for $600,000."
"I was never given a raise or rewarded in any way except for ridicule because now stockholders had to pay for offices they got for free, had to pay for their trash instead of dumping it on the ground," DiCrecchio wrote. As part of his duties, DiCrecchio wrote, he did the market's refrigeration, welding and power washing from 2002 to 2011 "for nothing."
"You never received a bill or paid me or specialty refrigeration for millions of dollars of services rendered," he wrote. "I gave you my refrigeration & welding businesses to start the new market. Every tool, lift truck, and trained my people to basically run your market instead of hiring a company for $600K a year," he wrote, adding, "Did I receive a raise for 15 years?"
The answer, he wrote, was no. How about a Christmas bonus?
"No," he wrote, "I didn't even get a thank you card or a cheap plaque from you when we opened the market, just complaints."
"However, I did not do anything out of malice," he wrote. "I just worked 24/7 all along with deep depression I suffered from. I just ask that you tell the real story in it's entirety, not like I am just some thief."
In his long email to his bosses, Sonny sounded bitter about how they had treated him.
"Now I am erased and kicked to the curb like I never existed, barred from a market that your kids and grandkids will enjoy for many years and make good livings," he wrote. "My life is destroyed because of my mistakes, over money that does not breathe. You could easily total what you feel I owe and let me work it off instead of kicking me out like I am the scum of the earth that never existed."
Sonny D even offered to cooperate with the forensic accountant trying to figure out how much money was lost.
"The Salt Of The Earth"
Today, Sonny D may be looked upon as "some thief," but in his heyday he was regarded as a big-hearted humanitarian. A Mummer recalled that when a member of his string band died broke, it was Sonny D who stepped up to pay for the Mummer's funeral as well as a funeral luncheon.
"He's the salt of the earth," the Mummer said about DiCrecchio.
In January, when the Eagles were going to the Super Bowl, one of their youngest fans was in big trouble. Ten-year-old cancer survivor Kanen Wear, of Cape May Courthouse, N.J., had been cancer-free for the previous four years. But while the Eagles were having their greatest season, Kanen was stricken with a relapse of Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that effects bones and soft tissue.
Kanen, a fifth-grader who had to drop out of school, was feeling "very isolated and sad," his mother told a reporter. He was a patient at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was undergoing more surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
It was Kanen's wish to watch the Eagles in the Super Bowl. That's when Sonny D stepped up with the money to send Karen and his parents to Minneapolis, where Kanen saw the Eagles win the world championship.
Sonny D's Holiday Party started small in 2008 when Sonny and a bunch of volunteers took a select group of 20 kids from Stenton Manor out to buy presents for themselves and their family. Then, Sonny D called Elder Rob Harrison, the executive director of the faith-based shelter, and told him, "We have to take 'em all."
He meant all 135 kids at the shelter.
"He was serious, he was pretty adamant," Harrison said. On the youtube video, Harrison recalled his emotional reaction to what Sonny had to say.
"I kind of broke down," Harrison said. "Nobody has ever thought of those children like that."
Harrison said his wife wondered why he was crying.
"You've got to meet this guy," Harrison recalled telling his wife. "There's something about him."
On the video, Sonny's wife agreed.
"My husband would give you the shirt off his back and then he'll take you to the store and buy the rest of the wardrobe," she said. "That's how he is."
But when the feds announce Sonny's arrest, that's not how they plan to portray him.
Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia will be telling some vintage mob stories while the Rowan Jazz Band plays music that mobsters love.
It's the first-ever "Jazz and Organized Crime" concert being presented at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1st, at the Pfleeger Concert Hall at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J.
Anastasia covered the mob for The Philadelphia Inquirer for 35 years, he's also the author of ten books, a journalism professor at Rowan, a staff writer for BigTrial.net, and lately, a talking head on the History Channel.
The Rowan Band will be lead by director Denis DiBlasio. Tickets are $5 and $10 and can be purchased online at rowan.tix.com. The event is sponsored by Rowan's College of Performing Arts, College of Communications and Creative Arts, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
By Ralph Cipriano
He wasn't interested in sending anyone to jail; all he wanted was cash.
In February 2009, nearly a full year before he met with the Philadelphia District Attorney's office to press criminal charges, Danny Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe," the "lying, scheming altar boy," told a social worker for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that "He has been talking to lawyers," and if "he gets money," he "does not want to press charges."
It was the kind of exculpatory evidence that would have made the district attorney's star witness look like he wasn't out for justice, he just wanted to get paid. The kind of exculpatory evidence that defense lawyers would have used on cross-examination to question Gallagher's motives and impeach his credibility.
So how did the D.A.'s office handle that exculpatory evidence? Simple; they just buried it.
In another blatant example of prosecutorial misconduct under former D.A. Seth Williams, those seven pages of notes from a couple of social workers were never turned over to defense lawyers. Nine years later, however, the notes have mysteriously reappeared, a copy of which was courteously provided to Big Trial. Those notes will be an issue in the retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn, scheduled for some time next year.
Previously, in March, seven pages of typed notes from the first interview with Danny Gallagher in January 2010, taken by former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, mysteriously resurfaced eight years later. This was after Sorensen and two other assistant district attorneys told three different judges in three different courtrooms over the years that those notes didn't exist.
If you're a prosecutor in Philadelphia going after the Catholic Church, apparently it's Ok to lie to a judge as long as the ends justifies the means.
Keep in mind that the D.A.'s former lead detective in the archdiocese prosecution, Joe Walsh, has come forward to testify that he repeatedly told ADA Sorensen that the evidence he was gathering showed that Danny Gallagher wasn't a credible witness. And that she repeatedly refused to believe him, and eventually responded, "You're killing my case."
A spokesman for District Attorney Larry Krasner did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Krasner, according to sources, was busy out emancipating accused murderers, rapists, prostitutes and drug dealers.
Progressive Larry is on a mission to empty the city's jails, but he has to draw the line when it comes to liberating a Catholic priest falsely accused.
Gallagher, a former heroin user and accused dealer, wound up being the D.A.'s star witness in a historic prosecution that sent two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher to jail for supposedly raping Gallagher when he was a 10 and 11-year-old altar boy.
Gallagher's testimony also resulted in the conviction of a third priest, Msgr. Lynn, who was sent to jail for three years for endangering the welfare of a child. He was the first Catholic administrator in the country to be imprisoned during the ongoing Catholic Church sex abuse scandals, a jail sentence that made headlines around the country.
A jury in 2012 convicted Lynn, the archdiocese's former secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, Gallagher, by exposing him to an abusive priest, Father Edward Avery, whom Lynn was supposed to be supervising.
Lynn served 33 months out of his 36-month sentence, plus 18 years of house arrest, before the state Superior Court overturned his conviction for a second time. But despite the fact that Lynn was an official scapegoat carrying out Cardinal Bevilacqua's orders, and he had basically already served his sentence, new D.A. Krasner has decided to retry the case, presumably for the sake of headlines.
And why not? For prosecutors in the current media climate, going after the Catholic Church is such a rush it's like shooting heroin. Seth Williams got plenty of headlines, even though he had to use a phony victim to stage his witch hunt against the church, propped up by prosecutors who cheated every step of the way.
And since I'm the only reporter in town who called him on it, what was the downside, even for a convicted criminal like Williams, now serving a four-year stretch in a federal prison in Oklahoma after admitting he took bribes, sold his office and stole money from his own mother.
And then Pennsylvania state Attorney General Josh Shapiro came along this summer and got a free ride from the media for basically digging up an ecclesiastic graveyard. In his grand jury report on sex abuse in a half-dozen dioceses in the state, Shapiro chronicled the alleged perverted exploits of 250 priests, 117 of whom were dead, and couldn't defend themselves, along with another 13 priests who were so old they were presumed dead.
The alleged crimes were well beyond the statute of limitations; some dated as far back to the 1940s. But the media played it like it had all jut happened yesterday. What was the aftermath? Prosecutors in 13 states immediately announced plans to launch similar probes. And not to be outdone, the U.S. Attorney's office in Pennsylvania launched a federal probe of the Catholic Church.
And again, why not? The church is a sitting duck. Under century-old Vatican rules, every diocese has to record every accusation against a Catholic priest, whether it's true or false, and keep it forever. So all a prosecutor has to do to generate a fresh set of headlines is to get a search warrant to pry loose a local diocese's old batch of secret archive files.
It's a target that can't be missed.
Meanwhile, the retrial of Lynn, the cardinal's dutiful lackey, is proceeding slowly through the courts. According to the court docket, a pretrial hearing was scheduled for Nov. 15th in the courtroom of Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn Bright.
But on Sept. 28, the D.A.'s office under Progressive Larry Krasner filed yet another appeal in the nine-year-old case to the state Supreme Court. Krasner's office is appealing a decision by Judge Bright to limit the number of supplemental sex abuse cases the D.A. can present in a retrial of Msgr. Lynn, to show a pattern of cover ups in the archdiocese.
The D.A.'s office would like to include as many supplemental cases as possible so they can basically put the Catholic Church on trial, along with Lynn, but the D.A.'s office under Krasner previously lost an appeal of that same issue in state Superior Court. Now, they are appealing to the state Supreme Court.
Back in Common Pleas Court, Judge Bright has a nonsensical gag order still in place that prohibits lawyers on both sides from taking to reporters. So nobody can comment on fresh revelations of prosecutorial misconduct.
But since I'm the only reporter in town still writing about this travesty of a case, here's what those old and previously deep-sixed documents have to say.
On Feb. 6, 2009, Joann Blaney, of the archdiocese's Office For Child and Youth Protection, sent an email to Louise Hagner, victim assistance coordinator. It was Hagner on Jan. 30, 2009 who drove out to Gallagher's home to interview him after he had called in on a sex abuse hot line to report that he had previously been raped by two priests and a schoolteacher.
Gallagher, Blaney wrote to Hagner, had just called and he "also wanted to know what department to call about suing us." In her email, Blaney asked Hagner to call Gallagher back.
In handwritten notes on a print-out of Blaney's email, a social worker wrote that she put in a "call to Dan," and that Gallagher told her "he is upset" because "when he goes to sleep he keeps dreaming the abuse is happening."
"He was slurring his words & I asked him if he was medicated," she wrote. "He said no -- he had not slept in 2 days. He said that he has had problems with drugs."
"The police have not called him yet," she wrote. "He did receive the letter from Tim Coyne to Charles Gallagher. He [Danny Gallagher] called Tim Coyne today because he wanted to find about suing us."
On Jan. 30, 2009, Timothy R. Coyne, director of the archdiocese's Office for Legal Services, wrote to Assistant District Attorney Charles Gallagher [no relation to Danny] to inform him of Danny Gallagher's allegations.
On Feb. 17, 2009, a social worker wrote that she called Gallagher and he reported that he "had a dream on Valentine's Day. The news people were outside his home & and I was standing there too. He said he is concerned that it will become public."
In the handwritten notes, a social worker recorded on Feb. 2, 2009, she called Danny Gallagher back, who said "he is so depressed" because "he has been dreaming about it" again.
"He has been talking to lawyers," the social worker wrote. If "he gets money," she wrote, "He does not want to press charges."
On March 19, 2009, a social worker wrote that she called Gallagher and he told her he had "heard from the D.A." and that he "will probably go on Monday with his Dad."
Previously, Hagner wrote on Jan. 30, 2009, that after she and another social worker drove out to interview Danny Gallagher, "He has been calling lawyers," and that he was concerned about the "statute of limitations."
But for the rest of the year, Gallagher didn't do anything about pressing a civil claim against the archdiocese, and the D.A.'s office did mptjomg to pursue a criminal investigation of Gallagher's allegations. That's because, multiple sources say, the D.A.'s office under former D.A. Lynne Abraham had decided that Danny Gallagher's allegations were B.S.
But after Abraham retired, Seth Williams became D.A. And he was very interested in putting together a case that would land Msgr. Lynn in jail. To make a case, however, Williams needed a victim whose allegations fell within the statute of limitations.
At this point, Danny Gallagher and his far-fetched and endlessly contradictory tales of abuse became useful to Seth Williams and his henchmen.
Nearly a full year after Danny Gallagher first told church social workers about his far-fetched stories of being repeatedly raped, on Jan. 28, 2010, Detective Drew Snyder bailed Danny Gallagher out of Graterford Prison, where he was being held on a probation violation. Snyder drove Gallagher to the D.A.'s office, where his parents were waiting, along with ADA Sorensen.
The fix was in. And by playing the D.A.'s star witness, Danny Gallagher eventually got paid big time.
The D.A.'s office, according to Gallagher's testimony at the trial of Father Charles Engelhardt and schoolteacher Bernard Shero, also supplied Gallagher with a civil lawyer so he could sue the archdiocese and collect $5 million.
That's what happens when a habitual liar has as his enablers prosecutors who cheat.
Former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo will be the featured guest Thursday Nov. 8th at the Parkway Central Library at 1901 Vine Street.
Fumo will be discussing Target: The Senator; A Story About Power And Abuse of Power. The biography of Fumo, published last November, was written by Ralph Cipriano of bigtrial.net, who will introduce the senator.
The event, which is free, is scheduled to run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Room 108 of the Parkway Central Library, sponsored by the Social Science and History Department.
Advanced registration is recommended by signing up here. For any questions, please call the Social Science and History Department at 215-686-5396.
You have to dig deep into Newsweek's profile of Philly D.A. Larry Krasner to find it, but reporter Steve Volk documents how Krasner trampled on the rights of the families of murder victims in three homicide cases.
Volk talks to the families of three murder victims who weren't notified, as required by state law, when Krasner struck plea bargains with the killers of their loved ones, resulting in lesser charges and reduced sentences. In the story, Progressive Larry, continuing to prove, as one prosecutor memorably put it, that he "doesn't give a fuck about victims," dismisses those violations as "growing pains." But Volk repeatedly asks Krasner, "Whose side are you on?"
The story can be read here.
By Ralph Cipriano
The plane that flew over Beaver Stadium towed a banner that said -- "PRES BARRON: WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? RELEASE THE REPORT!"
Former Penn State Trustee Anthony Lubrano took to the skies last month in his campaign to get Penn State President Eric Barron to release the findings of an investigation into the so called "source materials" for the Louis Freeh Report on the Penn State sex scandal. The investigation into the Freeh Report, done by a minority group of trustees, was buried by the majority on the PSU board as part of an ongoing coverup of epic proportions, aided by an astounding lack of curiosity on the part of the mainstream media.
As to what PSU is hiding, Big Trial's readers know the answers, because this past summer, we printed many of those big secrets contained in the confidential "source materials." What are they hiding? That the Freeh Report was filled with faulty opinions dressed up as facts, that Freeh had a conflict of interest, and that Freeh's investigators were colluding with former deputy attorney general Frank Fina in a manner that violated state grand jury secrecy laws and may have contaminated both probes. And that's just for starters.
The findings of the minority trustees: Freeh "disregarded the preponderance of the evidence" in concluding there was a cover-up of Jerry Sandusky's crimes at Penn State.
And: "Louis Freeh and his team knowingly provided a false conclusion in stating that the alleged coverup was motivated by a desire to protect the football program and a false culture that overvalued football and athletics."
The Freeh Report, the executive summary found, relied on "deeply-flawed" procedures for interviewing witnesses, and faulty investigative methods that resulted in "biased reporting of interview data" and "inaccurate summaries" of witness testimony.
In their synopsis of evidence, the trustees charged Freeh with a conflict of interest. The minority trustees offered as proof confidential internal Freeh Group emails that showed that while Freeh was finishing up his investigation of Penn State, he was angling for his group to become the "go to investigators" for the NCAA.
On July 7, 2012, a week before the release of the Freeh Report on Penn State, Omar McNeill, a senior investigator for Freeh, wrote to Freeh and a partner of Freeh's. "This has opened up an opportunity to have the dialogue with [NCAA President Mark] Emmert about possibly being the go to internal investigator for the NCAA," McNeill wrote. "It appears we have Emmert's attention now."
In response, Freeh wrote back, "Let's try to meet with him and make a deal -- a very good cost contract to be the NCAA's 'go to investigators' -- we can even craft a big discounted rate given the unique importance of such a client. Most likely he will agree to a meeting -- if he does not ask for one first."
A spokesperson for Freeh, the former judge and FBI director, never responded to a Big Trial request for comment.
In July, Big Trial ran more top secret stuff from the source materials -- a series of internal emails at the Freeh Group that showed that former deputy attorney General Frank Fina was routinely and repeatedly leaking grand jury secrets to Freeh's investigators.
The emails showed that Fina was routinely swapping inside dope with Freeh's guys and playing good cop-bad cop on witnesses such as former Penn State Counsel Cynthia Baldwin, even though the grand jury's investigation of Penn State was supposed to be secret. And that Freeh's investigators, who were acting as private citizens, had no right to access grand jury secrets.
|Leaky Frank Fina|
When asked about this breach of grand jury secrecy, and whether Freeh's team was authorized to share grand jury secrets with Fina, Freeh courageously declined comment.
Another big secret contained in those source materials -- Penn State's board of trustees utterly failed in their fiduciary duties to investigate claims of abuse before they paid out $118 million to 36 alleged victims.
Confidential documents showed that Penn State's trustees, presently engaged in that ongoing coverup, didn't subject the now-wealthy young lads to criminal background checks, depositions by lawyers, or examinations by forensic psychiatrists before they handed out the big checks. The so-called "victims" never even had to divulge their real names while they were cashing in.
No wonder Penn State wants to keep that report on the source materials sealed. Because it makes them looked like easy marks squandering millions of dollars on suspect "victims" with ever-changing and highly implausible stories that were often the product of therapy sessions featuring scientifically discredited memory recovery therapy.
In ordinary times, the shocking degree of incompetence and malfeasance that took place at Penn State during that big sex scandal might have aroused the curiosity of the mainstream media, and maybe even prompted them to reconsider their hysterical rush to judgment in the Sandusky case.
Especially in the light of another Big Trial bombshell, that the headline allegation of the 2011 grand jury presentment --- that Jerry Sandusky raped a 10-year-old boy in the showers -- probably never happened, according to a previously unknown federal investigation conducted back in 2012 on the Penn State campus by former NCIS special agent John Snedden.
Contrary to what Freeh found, Snedden concluded that there was no cover up at Penn State because there was no credible evidence or a credible witness to show that a sex crime had ever occurred in the PSU showers.
But the mainstream media remains silent on the Snedden investigation and subsequent 110-page report, as well as the accumulating evidence that Penn State, Louie Freeh, and the attorney general, along with cops and therapists, completely botched the Sandusky investigation.
Because the members of the media have their own credibility to protect, or what's left of it.
Memo to the minority trustees: President Barron reports to the board of trustees and not the other way around. He's never going to willingly release that report, and neither will the majority board members.
The only solution: do what Frank Fina did, leak the damn thing. Hopefully, the report is available as a PDF or word document. Email that file to email@example.com and I'll take care of the rest.