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- 09/18/17--07:42: _State Attorney Gene...
- 09/19/17--03:48: _Wine Club Crushes It
- 09/29/17--09:30: _Boy In The Shower S...
- 10/08/17--08:11: _Cosby's Accuser Has...
- 10/10/17--15:18: _Penn State Confiden...
- 10/17/17--18:30: _Pro-Prosecution Ink...
- 10/18/17--03:43: _Sandusky's Lawyers ...
- 10/18/17--06:47: _Spanier's Lawyers S...
- 10/24/17--15:13: _For Rufus Seth Will...
- 11/02/17--08:27: _Requiem For An Old-...
- 11/13/17--11:59: _ Memory Issues In t...
- 11/25/17--12:49: _The Return of Vincenzo
- 11/28/17--07:08: _Another Sandusky-Re...
- 11/30/17--11:35: _Newsweek's "Sins Of...
- 12/04/17--04:52: _I Did Not Deserve "...
- 12/10/17--07:14: _On Tour With The Or...
- 12/11/17--11:01: _What John Gotti Did...
- 12/12/17--12:26: _Progressive New D.A...
- 12/23/17--10:48: _D.A.'s Office, Unde...
- 01/01/18--04:00: _Harvey Silverglate'...
- 01/04/18--05:58: _For Big Trial, A Lo...
- 01/06/18--02:37: _At D.A.'s Office No...
- 01/08/18--12:58: _Chaos At The D.A.'s...
- 01/17/18--17:16: _D.A. Won't Press Ch...
- 01/17/18--18:17: _New D.A. Krasner Go...
- 09/18/17--07:42: State Attorney General's Office Tries To Keep Sandusky Probe Secret
- 09/19/17--03:48: Wine Club Crushes It
- 09/29/17--09:30: Boy In The Shower Says He Can't Remember 34 Times
- 10/08/17--08:11: Cosby's Accuser Has A Secret
- 10/10/17--15:18: Penn State Confidential: Prosecutor Told McQueary To Clam Up
- 10/17/17--18:30: Pro-Prosecution Inky Denounces Payday Loan Defendants During Trial
- 10/18/17--03:43: Sandusky's Lawyers Charge A.G.'s Office With Brady Violations
- 10/18/17--06:47: Spanier's Lawyers Say Statute Had Run On Crime He Was Convicted Of
- 10/24/17--15:13: For Rufus Seth Williams, No Last Chance To Say Goodbye To Mom
- 11/02/17--08:27: Requiem For An Old-School Pol
- 11/13/17--11:59: Memory Issues In the Jerry Sandusky Case
- 11/25/17--12:49: The Return of Vincenzo
- 11/28/17--07:08: Another Sandusky-Related Victim Of The Abuse Myth
- 11/30/17--11:35: Newsweek's "Sins Of The Fathers"
- 12/04/17--04:52: I Did Not Deserve "The Scarlet Letter"
- 12/10/17--07:14: On Tour With The Original Gangster
- 12/11/17--11:01: What John Gotti Did To The Mob
- 12/12/17--12:26: Progressive New D.A. Larry Krasner Off On Wrong Foot
- 12/23/17--10:48: D.A.'s Office, Under New Management, Perpetuates An Old Fraud
- 01/01/18--04:00: Harvey Silverglate's Foreword To Target: The Senator
- 01/04/18--05:58: For Big Trial, A Look Back, A Look Forward
- 01/06/18--02:37: At D.A.'s Office Nobody Left To Prosecute Msgr. Lynn
- 01/08/18--12:58: Chaos At The D.A.'s Office; Two Different Lists Of Fired Employees
- 01/17/18--17:16: D.A. Won't Press Charges Against Teacher Who Cursed Out Cops
- 01/17/18--18:17: New D.A. Krasner Going Forward With Retrial Of Msgr. Lynn
By Ralph Cipriano
What do you do when you screw up royally?
If you're the state Attorney General's office, you try to keep a top secret lid on everything, even if its years after they put Jerry Sandusky in jail.
That's what our A.G.'s office is up to. On June 28th, Jennifer C. Selber, executive deputy attorney general, wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney D. Brian Simpson in Harrisburg, about all of the files the A.G. turned over to the feds three years ago from the state's grand jury investigation of Sandusky.
Selber's concern was that the U.S. Attorney's office not turn any of the A.G.'s records in response to a long-running FOI battle being waged by Ryan Bagwell, a former newspaper reporter and candidate for Penn State trustee. When Bagwell couldn't get any records out of the state, he filed FOI requests with the U.S. Attorney's office in 2014, and so far has recouped some 1,000 pages of documents.
The A.G.'s office wants to make sure no further documents are released.
"Initially, it must be understood that the investigation of Sandusky PSU and TSM [The Second Mile] was done through two Statewide Investigating Grand Juries," Selber wrote. "As such, all of the materials gathered by the OAG and provided to your Office were subject to grand jury secrecy."
The state attorney general turned over their Sandusky records when they asked the U.S. Attorney's office to investigate Penn State and The Second Mile, Sandusky's defunct charity, for "financial irregularities and possible Clery Act violations" stemming from the state's grand jury probe of Sandusky. The Clery Act mandates transparency when it comes to reporting crime on campus.
The feds closed the investigation in 2014, without any tangible results.
Under Pennsylvania law, the state is allowed to turn over records from an investigation "only if the agency is investigating a crime within its jurisdiction and the person to whom disclosure is made are sworn to grand jury secrecy," Selber wrote. She asked that the records turned over to the feds under an FOI request remain secret and "confidentiality be maintained."
Bagwell says he's determined to see this battle through to the end, "no matter how long it takes."
"There's virtually no public access to records from police investigations in Pennsylvania," Bagel said. "They're not used to the idea of having their investigations scrutinized."
Bagel says if the records are eventually released, they "might reveal some interesting things that suggest the original grand jury presentment should have never been written in the way it was."
As previously reported on this blog, the grand jury report on Sandusky was built around an event that didn't happen, an anal rape of a naked 10-year-old boy by Sandusky, supposedly witnessed by Mike McQueary in the Penn State showers back in 2001.
However, four men who interviewed McQueary said he didn't witness a sexual attack. Even McQueary agrees he never saw an anal rape, as he stated in writing in an email to the state attorney general's office.
A federal official, former Special Agent John Snedden, also investigated the alleged shower rape as part of an investigation of former Penn State President Graham Spanier. Snedden concluded in a recently declassified 110-page report done in 2012 that McQueary was not a credible witness, no sex crime was committed at Penn State, and hence, no cover up, since there was nothing to cover up.
During the state attorney general's investigation, a couple of state troopers were caught on a tape recorder lying to an alleged victim of sex abuse about hearing the same story from several other alleged victims, even though it wasn't true.
"Obviously the AG is doing everything it can to make sure that people don't have the opportunity to review the facts versus the presentment," Snedden said.
|PhillyVoice/Tracie Van Auken|
On Saturday morning, 28 men gathered outside a South Jersey warehouse to crush 25,000 pounds of grapes.
Stacked in the yard on grass and gravel were 680 36-pound boxes of grapes arranged in 17 stacks. The men were using hammers and crowbars to pry the lids off the boxes, so they could dump the grapes into two automatic crusher-destemmers.
As the machines roared, Guy Ferranti strolled through the crowd looking like a football coach on the sidelines carrying his laminated play cards.
Ferranti is the CEO of the Vino Degli Amici wine club, which loosely translated means "wine among friends."
The rest of the story can be read here.
By Ralph Cipriano
Allan Myers, the boy in the Penn State showers that Mike McQueary allegedly saw being raped by Jerry Sandusky, sure has a lousy memory.
Myers couldn't remember when a picture of him posing with Sandusky had been taken, even though it was at Myers' own wedding.
Myers couldn't remember what he told a couple of state troopers when they interviewed him in 2011, and Myers said that Sandusky had never abused him.
Myers couldn't remember what he told a private investigator, namely that Mike McQueary was full of crap, and that nothing sexual had happened in that shower.
A 48-page transcript from a Nov. 4, 2016 hearing where Myers was called as a witness as part of Sandusky's bid for a new trial was released for the first time earlier this week, in response to a request from a reporter for a major mainstream media news outlet. The transcript provides some insight into what is clearly a screwed-up case that the prosecutors and the news media have completely botched.
And they blew it because they showed no skepticism about witnesses like Allan Myers, who, from what he had to say in this transcript, clearly isn't credible.
In the transcript, Myers, who was on the witness stand for less than an hour before Centre County Senior Judge John M. Cleland, said he couldn't recall or didn't remember 34 times.
Either Myers was very forgetful, or he was clearly lying.
Before Myers was brought in as a witness, Sandusky was sworn in and the judge explained to him that since nobody knew what Myers was going to say, his testimony "could be harmful to your case."
But Sandusky had his mind made up.
"It is my decision to have Allan Myers testify," Sandusky told the judge.
Myers, a former Marine, testified that he got to know Sandusky through the former assistant Penn State coach's Second Mile charity.
"Did you think of Mr. Sandusky as a father figure," Al Lindsay, Sandusky's lawyer, asked.
"Yes, I did," Myers said.
Myers was shown a picture of himself and Sandusky at Myers's wedding. Lindsay asked if Myers remembered when that picture was taken.
"That I do not remember," Myers said.
Lindsay showed Myers a photo of a football camp when Myers served as a coach, and posed for a picture with the boys he was coaching, along with Sandusky. Lindsay asked Myers how old he was in the photo.
"I don't remember," Myers said. "I don't even know what year that was."
"Well, were you an adult," Lindsay asked. "Do you know that?"
"I wasn't an adult," Myers said.
"Can you give us any estimate of your age," the lawyer asked.
"No," Myers said.
Myers recalled that he lived in Sandusky's home "right after I graduated high school to attend Penn State."
"And I left there because he [Sandusky] was controlling and I left," Myers said. "And that was the end that I ever lived with him."
Too controlling, Myers said, but he said nothing about being abused.
Lindsay asked Myers if he remembered being interviewed on Sept. 20, 2011, by state Trooper James Ellis and Corporal Joseph A. Letter.
"I recall being interviewed," Myers said.
Lindsay gave Myers a copy of the police report and asked if it reflected what he told the state troopers.
"Yes," Myers said, before snapping at the lawyer, "Please don't raise your voice at me."
Lindsay asked if Myers remembered telling the troopers that he and Sandusky at worked out at the Lasch Building.
"I don't remember that interview," Myer said.
Lindsay asked Myers if he recalled telling the troopers "nothing inappropriate occurred" in the shower, and that at "no time were you made to feel uncomfortable."
"I don't recall," Myers replied.
Lindsay asked Myers if he remembered telling the troopers that after workouts with Sandusky, he and Jerry would return to Sandusky's home and shower in separate facilities?
"I said it," Myers said, "But I don't remember it."
Lindsay asked Myers if he remembered an interview he gave to an investigator named Curtis Everhart who worked at the time for Joseph Amendola, Sandusky's trial lawyer.
Myers remembered the interview.
Lindsay asked if he remembered telling the investigator, "I am alleged Victim No. 2."
"I'm sure I did," Myers said, before adding, "I don't remember everything."
Lindsay asked Myers if he recalled telling the investigator that on the day McQueary thought he saw an anal rape in the showers, Myers said "Jerry and I were slapping towels at each other trying to sting each other."
Myers was a month short of his 14th birthday in 2001 when the infamous shower incident occurred. Even though the official grand jury report says that Mike McQueary heard "slapping sounds" and witnessed Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy in the shower.
"I don't recall everything I told Mr. Everhart," Myers said.
Did Myers recall telling the investigator that he used to slap the walls and slide on the shower floor when he was taking a shower with Jerry?
"I can't recall everything I said in that interview back then," Myers said.
Lindsay read out loud a quote from a report that stated what Myers had supposedly told Everhart:
"The grand jury report says Coach McQueary said he observed Jerry and I engaged in sexual activity. That is not the truth and McQueary is not telling the truth. Nothing occurred that night in the shower."
"Do you recall telling him that," Lindsay asked the witness.
"Like I said, I can't recall everything I said back then," Myers said. "But if it's in there, I said it then, yes."
Lindsay asked Myers if he told the investigator that "I never saw McQueary look into the shower that night. I am sure."
"That's what I said back then," Myers said. "Once again, I can't recall what I said then."
Lindsay read Myers more quotes from the interview with the investigator.
In the quotes, Myers:
-- denied having sex with Sandusky;
-- repeated that "McQueary did not tell the truth;"
-- repeated that "I am alleged Victim No. 2 on the grand jury report;"
-- Again claimed that Sandusky "never sexually assaulted me."
"That's what I said then," Myers said. "And once again, I can't recall everything I said then."
Lindsay asked Myers if he told the truth when he spoke to the investigator.
"Yes," he said.
Myers had once been Jerry Sandusky's biggest defender. He had even written a letter to the editor of a local newspaper stating what a great guy Jerry was.
Then Myers hired attorney Andrew Shubin, who represented eight victims in the Penn State sex abuse scandal.
Myers became Shubin's ninth victim. He flipped on Jerry, claimed he'd been abused, and collected a reported $3 million.
When asked how much he received from his settlement, Myers said," Im not allowed to answer that question."
Lindsay asked Myers, who wasn't called as a witness during the Sandusky trial, where he was when the trial took place.
"I believe I was somewhere in central Pennsylvania," he said. "Now exactly where I was, I can't recall. I might have been working. I don't know exactly, but I was here in Pennsylvania . . . I was somewhere inside Clinton County or Clearfield County, somewhere in that little Trifecta."
Asked if he could recall being in a specific place, Myers replied, "I can't recall where I was when the trial was going on . . . I can't tell you exactly where I was, I don't remember that."
It was Lindsay's contention that Sandusky deserved a new trial because the prosecutor, Joseph McGettigan, lied to the jury when he said that the existence of Victim No. 2 was "known only to God."
After Myers left the witness stand, Lindsay put Sandusky up to testify as a rebuttal witness.
"Mr. Sandusky, did you ever sexually abuse Allan Myers in any way," Lindsay asked.
"Absolutely not," Sandusky said.
John Ziegler, a reporter who was in the courtroom when Myers testified, said he was glad that the transcript had finally released.
"This is the only testimony of the person who is the epicenter of this whole thing," Ziegler said about the Penn State scandal.
"And it's obvious to anyone who understand the case that he [Myers] wasn't telling the truth," Ziegler said. "He [Myers] remembers everything up until he flips on Jerry and then he can't remember anything."
Myers' testimony, Ziegler said, was "a hundred percent consistent with a guy who had who had flipped for $3 million and felt bad about it, and didn't want to deal with it anymore."
When Sandusky took the stand, Ziegler recalled, "He was in tears, he was angry. It was righteous anger."
John Snedden, a former NCIS and FIS special agent who investigated the scandal at Penn State, said he was disturbed by Myers' evolving story.
"His initial statements are definitive and exculpatory," Snedden said. "His testimony then degrades into a wishy-washy, exceptionally foggy abyss."
"Being officially interviewed as the 'victim' of a traumatic event doesn't happen everyday," Snedden said. "And then you can't remember the specifics of that interview? Seriously?"
"It's clear why he [Myers] wasn't called by the prosecution" in the Sandusky case," Snedden said. "His testimony is exculpatory and now serves only as an example of blatant prosecutorial manipulation."
And where the hell did they hide Myers during the Sandusky trial?
By Ralph Cipriano
Andrea Constand, the woman who accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her, has a few secrets she'd like to keep.
So in federal court in Philadelphia, where she's suing former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor for defamation, Constand wants to seal her deposition and keep her medical and financial records private.
But those secrets may not keep. On Sept. 12, Judge Eduardo C. Robreno issued a ruling for Constand to show cause why the interim seal on her deposition should not be lifted. Cosby's lawyers, who filed as intervenors in the defamation case, have already received a redacted copy of Constand's deposition against Castor.
In a 12-page motion to seal filed Sept. 22 by Constand's lawyers, Bebe H. Kivitz and Dolores M. Troiani, the lawyers argue that Cosby's alleged victim would like to keep "sensitive personal information" under seal, and not have it exposed to Cosby and the media. Castor's lawyers, however, filed a motion last week, saying there is no justifiable reason for the secrecy since all of Costand's allegations against Cosby, as well as Castor, have been nationally and internationally publicized.
Judge Robreno has set a 9 a.m. Oct 20 hearing on the issue of whether Constand's sensitive personal information should remain under seal. In the meantime, with the graphic details of Constand's accusations already out there in People magazine, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, the Daily Mail, The Washington Post, etc., the only thing Costand may have left to hide is how many millions Cosby paid her to go away.
Constand is the 44-year-old former director of operations for Temple University's women's basketball team who claimed that in 2004, Cosby drugged her with three blue pills and then sexually abused her at his Elkins Park home.
Castor, the former Montgomery County D.A., declined to prosecute the case, forcing Constand "to seek any recourse in a civil action," her lawyers wrote in the defamation lawsuit.
But in not prosecuting Cosby, and granting him immunity, Castor did Constand a favor of sorts that would ultimately pay off for her. When Castor told Cosby's lawyers he wasn't going to be prosecuted, Cosby gave a 2005 deposition in the civil case where he admitted to drugging Constand, and engaging in sexual encounters with her. These were admissions that came back to haunt the comedian.
Constand's civil suit against Cosby was settled with a confidential payoff in 2006, probably for millions. Cosby would have been justified if he thought that was the end of it.
Then, in 2015, a new Montgomery County D.A., Risa Vetri Ferman, decided to reopen the criminal case against Cosby. And that same year, a judge decided to unseal Cosby's deposition in the old civil case.
Castor, who wanted to make another run for D.A. 2015, then made some statements about the old criminal case that angered Constand.
Castor said that if he had gone ahead with a Cosby prosecution, both Cosby and Constant could be portrayed "in a less than flattering light." Castor also said that Costand had lodged more serious sexual assault allegations in the civil lawsuit against Cosby than she divulged to police.
Constand had originally told police that when she woke up after Cosby drugged her, she found her brassiere around her neck.
But in her civil lawsuit, Constand claimed the comedian had fondled her breasts, penetrated her vagina with his hand, and placed Constand's hand on his penis, charges she would reiterate when she testified for a day and a half in the criminal case against Cosby last June.
"If the allegations in the civil complaint were contained with that detail in her statement to the police, we might have been able to make a case out of it," Castor said.
So Constand sued Castor for defamation. But she wanted to keep what came out in her lawsuit against Castor under seal. In the motion to seal Constand's records, her lawyers say, "This [defamation] lawsuit should not serve as a backdoor mechanism for Cosby and his counsel to obtain documents they would otherwise not be able to access in the criminal case."
Cosby is supposed to be retried next Spring.
In their motion to keep Constand's records private, her lawyers claimed that she was reluctantly brought into the spotlight.
Constand "does not hold public office nor is she a celebrity," her lawyers wrote. "She lived a very quiet and private life in Canada for 10 years. She is a private person who finds herself engaged in litigation based on [Castor's] efforts to defame her by statements to the media and the phenomenon of social media."
"Her private testimony and records concerning her medical and emotional care as well as her financial status should remain private," Constand's lawyers wrote. "Releasing it would not only violate her privacy rights, it would cause her embarrassment."
There was a confidentiality agreement in the defamation case regarding discovery [depositions and responses to lawyers questions] that was approved by Judge Robreno back on March 8, 2017. But while what happens in discovery is usually confidential, the judge may decide that confidentiality might be over when discovery is over.
Although Cosby's lawyers got a redacted copy of Constand's deposition in the defamation case, the
"entire deposition transcript" as well as and expert reports in the case remain under seal, her lawyers wrote. As does "evidence concerning plaintiff's medical and psychological treatment, financial information, including the deposition testimony and discovery responses."
In their motion to keep Constand's private information under seal, her lawyers cite "Castor's history of attempting to pass information to Cosby's criminal defense team and convey confidential information to Cosby's counsel via publicly filing discovery responses."
In an 8-page response motion filed Oct. 2nd, Castor's lawyers, Justin A. Bayer and Robert Connell Pugh ripped Constand's earlier filing.
"Rather than attempt to show cause, [Constand] spends the first six pages of her memorandum leveling nonsensical, false accusations intending to impugn the reputation of Mr. Castor," his lawyers wrote.
"Rather than waste the judge's time disproving each falsehood," Castor's lawyers wrote, they turned to the matter at hand, and concluded there was "no privacy interest at issue that justifies a seal."
"The facts of Commonwealth v. Cosby have received world-wide media attention," Castor's lawyers wrote.
"Moreover, [Constand] 'finds herself in litigation' with Mr. Castor because she field a lawsuit against him one week before an election publicly accusing him of wrongdoing and alleging damages," Castor's lawyers wrote. Constant "knowingly gave up privacy rights when she sued" Castor. And now Castor "seeks to defend himself against baseless claims."
Constand "fails to articulate any embarrassment which would justify a seal," Castor's lawyers wrote. So Castor is "entitled to defend himself in the same public manner in which the accusations against him have been made."
By Ralph Cipriano
On Nov. 10, 2011, six days after the state Attorney General's office released its official grand jury report on the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal, deputy Attorney Jonelle Eshbach was trying to calm Mike McQueary, her distraught star whistle-blower.
McQueary had written Eshbach earlier that day to tell her that the grand jury report that told the world that McQueary had witnessed a naked Sandusky in the Penn State showers having anal intercourse with a 10-year-old boy was wrong. In that same email, McQueary complained to the A.G.'s office that they had "twisted" his words about "whatever it was" that he had actually seen or heard in the showers.
Now there's a star witness you can have confidence in.
In a second email sent that same day, McQueary complained to Eshbach about "being misrepresented" in the media. And then McQueary tried to straighten out the prosecutor on a couple of other misconceptions, writing that he never went to Coach Joe Paterno's house with his father, and that he had never seen Sandusky with a child at a Penn State football practice.
"I know that a lot of this stuff is incorrect and it is hard not to respond," Eshbach emailed McQueary. "But you can't."
That email exchange, divulged in a couple of posts by Penn State blogger Ray Blehar, have people in Penn State Nation talking about prosecutorial misconduct. Naturally, the A.G.'s office has nothing to say about it, as an office spokesperson declined comment today.
The 2011 grand jury report said that back when he visited the Penn State showers in 2001, Mike McQueary heard "rhythmic, slapping sounds." Then, he peered into showers and "saw a naked boy, Victim No. 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Jerry Sandusky."
But McQueary wrote Eshbach, while copying Agent Anthony Sassano, "I feel my words are slightly twisted and not totally portrayed correctly in the presentment."
"I cannot say 1000 percent sure that it was sodomy. I did not see insertion," McQueary wrote. "It was a sexual act and or way over the line in my opinion whatever it was."
McQueary also complained about the media attention he was getting.
"National media, and public opinion has totally, in every single way, ruined me," McQueary wrote. "For what?"
"Also," McQueary wrote, "I never went to Coach Paterno's house with my father . . . It was me and only me . . . he was out of town the night before . . . never ever have I seen JS with a child at one of our practices . . . "
Then he returned to the subject of the bad publicity he was getting over the grand jury report.
"I am being misrepresented in the media," McQueary wrote. "It just is not right."
"I know that a lot of this stuff is incorrect and it is hard to to respond," Eshbach wrote back. "But you can't."
Former NCIS and FIS Special Agent John Snedden, a Penn State alum, was blown away by Eshbach's email response to McQueary.
"It's incredible, it's evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, trying to steer a witness's testimony," Snedden said. "It shows that the prosecution's manipulating the information, throwing out what they don't want and padding what they do want . . . It very strongly suggests a fictitious presentment."
During the defamation suit McQueary filed against Penn State, Eshbach was sworn in as a witness and asked to explain what she meant by telling McQueary not to talk.
"My advice to Mr. McQueary not to make a statement was based on the strengthening of my -- and saving of my case," Eshbach testified. "I did not want him [McQueary] making statements to the press at that time that could at some time be used against him in cross-examination. He [McQueary] was perfectly free to make a statement, but I asked him not to."
There's another angle to the prosecutorial misconduct story line -- this email exchange between McQueary and Eshbach that was reported on by Blehar was not turned over by the prosecution to defense lawyers during the Sandusky trial and the trial of former Penn State president Graham Spanier.
While we're on the subject of prosecutorial misconduct, at the Spanier trial, it was McQueary who testified that during the bye week of the 2011 Penn State football season, he got a call on his cell phone from the attorney general's office, tipping him off that "We're going to arrest folks and we are going to leak it out."
The fact that Mike McQueary didn't see a naked Jerry Sandusky having anal intercourse in the showers with a 10-year-old boy isn't the only erroneous assumption that came out of that shoddy 2011 grand jury report, Blehar wrote.
"The Sandusky grand jury presentment of Nov. 4, 2011 provided a misleading account of what eyewitness Michael McQueary reported to Joe Paterno about the 2001 incident," Blehar wrote. "Rather than stating what McQueary reported, it stated he reported 'what he had seen'which led the media and the public to erroneously conclude the specific details were reported to Paterno."
Keep in mind what the grand jury report said McQueary had seen -- a naked Sandusky having anal intercourse in the showers with a 10-year-old boy -- never actually happened, according to McQueary.
The grand jury report said:
"The graduate assistant went to his office and called his father, reporting to him what he had seen . . . The graduate assistant and his father decided that the graduate assistant had to promptly report what he had seen to Coach Joe Paterno . . . The next morning, a Saturday, the graduate assistant telephoned Paterno and went to Paterno's home, where he reported what he had seen."
Blehar cited the words of Joe Paterno, who issued a statement on Nov. 6, 2011, saying that McQueary had "at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report."
On Dec. 6, 2011, McQueary was asked under oath whether he had ever used the term "anal sodomy" in talking to Paterno.
"I've never used that term," McQueary said. "I would have explained to him the positions they were in roughly, but it was definitely sexual, but I have never used the word anal or rape in this since day one."
So what exactly did you tell Paterno, the prosecutor asked McQueary.
"I gave a brief description of what I saw," McQueary testified. "You don't -- ma'am, you don't go to Coach Paterno or at least in my mind and I don't go to Coach Paterno and go into great detail of sexual acts. I would have never done that with him ever."
Blehar also points out that not even the jury in the Sandusky case believed that Sandusky had anally raped Victim No. 2 in the Penn State showers, because they came to a not guilty verdict on the count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.
Blehar then cites four other witnesses in the case who also testified that McQueary never used sexual terms in describing what he had allegedly seen in the shower.
"Subsequent testimony in numerous proceedings from 2011 through 2017 by John McQueary, Dr. [John] Dranov, [former Penn State Athletic Director Tim] Curley and [former Penn State VP Gary] Schutz confirmed that no explicitly sexual terms were used by McQueary when he described what he actually saw," Blehar wrote.
In his second email to Eshbach, McQueary stated, "I never went to Coach Paterno's house with my father . . . It was me and only me . . . he was out the night before . . ."
In the email, McQueary doesn't say who the he was who was out the night before. In his blog post, Blehar takes the he as a reference to McQueary's father.
"Wait, what?" Blehar writes. "Paterno was in State College on Friday night. If this statement is true, then Mike did NOT meet with his father (and Dr. Dranov) immediately after the incident(because John Sr. was 'out of town.')"
"Another fabrication?" writes Blehar. "And the AG knew it."
In handwritten notes made in 2010, McQueary doesn't mention mention any meeting with his father and Dr. Dranov. Instead, he writes that he "drove to my parents' house" and "spoke with my father about the incident and received advice."
He also reiterates, "to be clear: from the time I walked into the locker room to the time I left was maybe one minute -- I was hastened & a bit flustered."
A hazy one-minute memory that McQueary himself admitted he had no idea "whatever it was" he had actually witnessed.
But it was a hazy, one-minute memory that the AG's office wrote an entire grand jury presentment around.
It was evidence like this that led Special Agent Snedden to conclude that McQueary was not a credible witness back in 2012 when Snedden was investigating whether former Penn State President Spanier deserved to have his high-level security clearance with the federal government renewed. Snedden wrote a recently declassified 110-page report that concluded there was no cover up at Penn State because there was no sex crime to cover up.
Because McQueary wasn't a credible witness, and he gave five different accounts of what he witnessed during that one minute in the Penn State showers.
"I'd love to see McQueary's cell phone records, absent whatever dick pics he was sending out that day," Snedden cracked, referring to the day McQueary witnessed the shower incident, and then called his father to figure out what to do.
"Did he even call his dad," Snedden wondered.
Snedden renewed his call for an independent investigation of the entire Penn State scandal, and the attorney general's role in manipulating evidence in the case.
"Anybody who cares about justice needs to be screaming for a special prosecutor in this case," Snedden said.
John Ziegler, a journalist who has covered the Penn State scandal since day one, agreed.
"This seems like blatant OAG misconduct and an indication that they were acutely aware their case had major problems," Ziegler wrote in an email. "Eshbach's response is stunning in that it admits errors in grand jury presentment and tells Mike to shut up about it."
Ziegler said the possibility that Mike McQueary never met with his father and Dr. Dranov, his father's boss, in an emergency meeting, if true, was big news.
"This is HUGE for several reasons," Ziegler wrote. The meeting, which supposedly occurred on the night McQueary witnessed the shower incident was the "ONLY piece of evidence that has EVER been consistent with Mike witnessing something horrible/dramatic" in the Penn State showers. And that's why "Dranov was brought in to meet with him [Mike McQueary] late on a Friday night in February," Ziegler said.
The AG's office, Ziegler speculated, "is desperate for evidence that Mike did something dramatic in reaction to" witnessing the shower incident.
If he really saw an anal rape ongoing in the shower, however, McQueary didn't rush in there and try to save a helpless, 10-year-old boy.
He didn't call the police.
"The meeting with Dranov is all they have," Ziegler wrote.
By Ralph Cipriano
The Philadelphia Inquirer is typically pro-prosecution.
It's something that defendants in a long line of corruption cases can attest to, such as Vince Fumo, Chaka Fattah, the so-called rogue cops, former L&I Inspector Dominic Verdi, the Traffic Court judges, state Senator Larry Farnese, etc.
The Inquirer's usual pattern is to trumpet the allegations of prosecutors as proven facts, which can be a problem when it comes to the presumption of innocence. It's also troublesome if the defendants in these corruption cases are actually found not guilty at trial, as with the rogue cops, Verdi, and Farnese. After all, that's why they play the games, because sometimes the underdogs might win.
But on Monday, the Inky did something new in the war on defendants in corruption cases: they actually denounced a couple of defendants on the editorial page while they were on trial for their lives. While their fates were actually in the hands of a jury.
In the case of payday lending pioneer Charles Hallinan, and his lawyer, Wheeler K. Neff, the Inquirer blasted both of them on the editorial page under a headline that said, "Why payday loan sharks should be arrested and tried."
In the case of Hallinan and Neff, a business man and his lawyer have been hit with a RICO indictment as the government is attempting to criminalize the previously tolerated practice of payday lending.
It's something for a jury to decide, whether payday lending should indeed be criminalized. But the Inquirer editorial board already has the whole thing figured out.
In case you missed it, in the editorial that was originally written on Oct. 13 and updated on Monday, Oct. 16, the Inquirer wrote:
"It is a relief to see federal prosecutors and regulators finally cracking down on payday lenders. While the moves are past due, it is unclear if the prosecutions will be enough to deter a sleazy industry if tough new restrictions will last.
"Payday lending is simply a genial term for loansharking. Lenders make short-term loans to cash-strapped individuals at exorbitant interest rates that can top 800 percent. The high-cost loans leave borrowers, often already living on the edge, deeper in debt or even bankrupt.
"That's why it was good to see federal prosecutors bring racketeering and conspiracy charges against one of the biggest payday lenders in the region, Charles Hallinan, owner of MyNextPaycheck and more than two dozen other loan companies . . .
"Hallinan and codefendant Wheeler K. Neff, his longtime legal counsel, are credited with developing dubious strategies that helped turn payday lending into a multibillion-dollar industry by partnering with sovereign American Indian tribes to evade state-imposed interest-rate caps . . .
"Regardless of the outcome of Hallinan and Neff's trial," the newspaper editorial concluded, more prosecutions and regulation are needed to stop payday lending abuses."
The newspaper also ran a photo of Hallinan with the editorial. The only thing they forgot to do was to tell the jury to convict the defendants.
On Monday, faced with prejudicial publicity, the judge in the case, at the behest of defense lawyers, called a halt to the trial to question jurors about whether they had seen the editorial. The judge asked for a show of hands but nobody had read or would admit to reading the editorial.
It's standard jury instructions for jurors to be told not to read anything about the case they are sitting in judgment on. Although in the Fumo case, we know the jurors were reading those stories. And at the end of the epic, nearly five-month long Fumo trial of 2008-09, one juror actually asked a bunch of reporters who wrote all those Fumo stories in the Inquirer, and then the juror wound up high-fiving the Inky reporter.
So much for standard jury instructions in the age of the Internet and social media.
Defense lawyers in the payday lending case declined comment, and the trial, which began last month, resumed. It's expected to be finished by the end of this month.
By Ralph Cipriano
Lawyers for Jerry Sandusky yesterday charged the state Attorney General's office with prosecutorial misconduct for withholding a revelatory email exchange between the lead prosecutor in the case, and her distraught star witness.
A day before the judge in the case was expected to announce whether Sandusky would be granted a new trial under the Post Conviction Relief Act [PCRA], lawyers Alexander H. Lindsay Jr. and J. Andrew Salemme filed a motion in Centre County Common Pleas Court asking the judge to reopen the record, admit newly discovered evidence, and convene a hearing to question former Deputy Attorney General Jonelle Eshbach, and whistle blower Mike McQueary.
A Big Trial story on the email exchange, first disclosed by blogger Ray Blehar, was attached to the defense lawyers' petition filed yesterday as Exhibit B. [The email exchange itself was Exhibit A.]
On Nov. 10, 2011, six days after the state Attorney General's office released its official grand jury report on the Sandusky sex scandal, McQueary emailed Eshbach to tell her that the grand jury report that said McQueary had witnessed a naked Sandusky in the Penn State showers having anal intercourse with a 10-year-old boy was wrong. In that same email, McQueary complained to the A.G.'s office that they had "twisted" his words about "whatever it was" that he had actually seen or heard in the showers.
In a second email sent that same day, McQueary complained to Eshbach about "being misrepresented" in the media. McQueary appeared to be contradicting a Sara Ganim report by telling Eshbach, "I never went to Coach Paterno's house with my father . . . It was me and only me . . . he was out of town the night before . . ."
"I know that a lot of this stuff is incorrect and it is hard not to respond," Eshbach responded in an email to McQueary. "But you can't."
In their petition, Sandusy's lawyers wrote that they just received a copy of that email echange on Oct. 10th, and that it had not been turned over previously to Sandusky's trial attorney, Joseph Amendola.
"This email exchange, which is attached, is evidence that McQueary's statements that he met with his father regarding observing Mr. Sandusky in the shower with a child the same night is inaccurate as Michael McQueary indicates that his father was not actually in town," the lawyers wrote.
In the McQueary email, there's some confusion over whether the person that McQueary said was out of town was his father, or Coach Joe Paterno. Either way, the defense lawyers write, it's a problem for the prosecution.
"To the extent that the email could be construed as Mr. McQueary stating that Mr. Paterno was not in town, it is believed . . . that Mr. Paterno was home and therefore that also could have been impeachment evidence," the lawyers wrote.
In their petition, Sandusky's lawyers say the email exchange where McQueary claims the AG's office twisted his words was evidence of prosecutorial misconduct. The defense lawyers previously gave the judge in the PCRA hearing a transcript from the Graham Spanier case, where McQueary disclosed on the witness stand that the AG's office had informed him that they were going to leak the grand jury report to the media.
"None of this information had previously been provided by the office of attorney general," Sandusky's lawyers wrote the judge.
This "additional information is further evidence of the prosecution's failure to turnover Brady impeachment evidence," the lawyers wrote, referring to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland, where the court ruled that all evidence that could benefit a defendant must be turned over to the defense.
At the end of their petition, Sandusky's lawyers ask for a hearing where Eshbach, McQueary and Amendola would be summoned to testify "as to whether such information was disclosed and/or received by trial counsel in conjunction with previously raised Brady claims."
Graham Spanier's conviction on a single count of child endangerment doesn't make much sense from a variety of different angles, his lawyers argued in an appeal brief filed yesterday in Commonwealth Court.
First, the crime that the former Penn State president was convicted of was Spanier's response, or lack thereof, to an alleged 2001 rape in the Penn State showers of a ten-year-old boy, a crime supposedly witnessed by wacky whiste blower Mike McQueary.
Let's skip over the fact that McQueary told five different versions of the story about what he supposedly saw and heard in the shower that night, and that he later admitted in writing in an email to the prosecutor that they got the grand jury report wrong, and that he had never actually seen a rape.
The statute of limitations for child endangerment in Pennsylvania is only two years. So by the time the attorney general's office got around to charging Spanier, in 2012, the statute on the 2001 imaginary sex-in-the-showers crime had long expired.
Second, the way the resourceful prosecutors got around the statute of limitations problem at trial was to claim that Spanier had engaged in a continuing course of conduct over the years, namely a cover up that extended until the time they charged him, in 2012. But the jury at Spanier's trial found him not guilty of engaging in a continuing course of conduct to endanger the welfare of a child.
So, the conviction was on flimsy ground.
But third, the resourceful trial judge's post-conviction solution on how to get around the statute of limitations problem was to raise an exception from the Philadelphia archdiocese sex abuse case that allowed for someone accused of endangering the welfare of a child to be charged up until the year that the alleged [in our case unknown and possibly imaginary] rape victim was 50 years old.
Again, to wrap our heads around this pretzel logic we have to forget that the alleged victim never came forward, and the prosecutor at trial claimed his identity was known "only to God."
The problem with that exception employed post-trial by the trial judge was that it was never raised before, during or after the Spanier trial by the prosecutors. So Spanier's lawyers say the exception shouldn't apply.
Fourth, Spanier's lawyers make the point that the prosecutors charged Spanier in 2011 with violating the child endangerment statute with the 2001 imaginary rape.
The problem here is that the state's 1972 child endangerment law only applied to people who had direct contact with children, such as parents, teachers and guardians. The law was amended after the Philadelphia archdiocese sex abuse scandal in 2007, to include supervisors such as Msgr. William J. Lynn, the archdiocese's former secretary of clergy, who was in charge of supervising abusive priests.
The problem in the Spanier case, his lawyers say, is that the attorney general's office is in effect charging Spanier under the 2007 amended law, which is unconstitutional.
In the case of Msgr. Lynn, his conviction on one count of child endangerment in 2012 was overturned by the state Superior Court because the original law didn't apply to him. But that sensible decision was overturned by the state Supreme Court.
The state Supreme Court's decision in the Lynn case basically got around the fact that Lynn wasn't in direct contact with children by saying that if an administrator knowingly placed a sexually abusive person in proximity to children under his care, then he could be charged with child endangerment.
During the Spanier trial, however, his lawyers argue that the prosecution failed to offer any evidence that Spanier, the president of a university, "owed a duty of care to minor children, or that he was supervising the welfare of those children."
Spanier was sentenced to a jail term of between four and twelve months, a $7,5000 fine, 200 hours of community service, as well as being on the hook for paying the costs of prosecuting him.
By Ralph Cipriano
The judge wouldn't even let him out of jail to see Mom
Today in court, Judge Paul S. Diamond ripped former Philadelphia D.A. Rufus Seth Williams a new one before packing him off to jail for five years.
"You sold yourself to the parasites you surrounded yourself with," the judge blasted Williams during sentencing. The judge talked about "your profound dishonesty," and told the city's former top law enforcement officer, "I simply don't find you credible."
This was while the judge was declaring Williams a flight risk, and saying he couldn't take a chance of letting Williams out of jail. So the former D.A. could stay at his ex-wife's house, at the request of his lawyers, where he supposedly was going to get to see his ailing 85-year-old Mom one last time.
"The defendant stole from his mother," the judge asked incredulously, "and now he wants to see her?" The judge thought that demand was "so outrageous," he said from the bench, that he didn't think there were sufficient words in the English language to express how outrageous. The judge even went so far as to rip Williams' prepared statement, as read in court by his lawyer, by saying it "sounded like a campaign speech." Ouch.
No, our sad sack of a D.A., who got through life by conning the gullible, finally ran into somebody who wasn't buying it -- an angry Judge Diamond. Williams is lucky the plea bargain he agreed to didn't give the judge a chance to give Williams more time. Because he surely would have.
Williams, wearing a tan short-sleeve shirt, sweatpants and sneakers, showed up in court some 25 pounds lighter after a nearly four-month stay in solitary confinement. Williams, who used to go in for deep-tissue massages and deep-pore facials at the Union League and Sporting Club, as paid for by his political action committee, has been roughing it of late at the Special Housing Unit at Sixth and Market.
At the "SHU," they only let him out of his 8x10 cell one hour a day, and he only gets to make one phone call a month.
At the defense table, Williams, ever the drama queen, was dabbing his eyes to wipe away the tears while his lawyer, Tom Burke, read a statement from Williams' ex-wife Sonita.
According to Williams' ex, the two remain close "despite our divorce."
"Seth is a good man," his ex-wife said, even though he was a "flawed man who made flawed decisions."
"Seth has lost everything," his ex-wife pleaded with the judge, as Williams, right on cue, was dabbing his eyes, and reaching for the tissues. But the judge wasn't going along with Sonita Williams' plea to let her ex out of jail so he could spend time with his daughters and his Mom, before getting shipped off to prison.
Next, Burke, Williams' lawyer, talked about the "long hours, low pay and heavy workload" Williams endured as an assistant district attorney.
In pleading for mercy, Burke talked about the "great strides that he [Williams] made to improve the [D.A.'s] office," his "nearly 20 years of military service" in the U.S. Army and National Guard, and his "long service to the Catholic Church."
But Burke lost my sympathy when he talked about Williams'"courage in taking on the Catholic Church" in his crusade against sex abuse.
If there were any justice in our brazenly corrupt city, a special prosecutor would be investigating how Williams and a few of his prosecutors knowingly put a fraudulent sex abuse victim, Billy Doe AKA Danny Gallagher, on the witness stand to stage a witch hunt against the church, a witch hunt that put four men in jail for a string of phony rapes dreamed up by a junkie without a conscience.
The special prosecutor would also be looking into how the D.A.'s office under Rufus Seth Williams hooked Gallagher up with a civil lawyer, so he could sue the Catholic Church, and steal $5 million in a civil settlement, for imaginary pain and suffering.
And the special prosecutor would also be looking into whether anybody from the D.A.'s office got a kickback from that stolen $5 million.
Sorry, Mr. Burke, it wasn't courage that prompted Rufus Seth Williams to use a phony witness to stage a witch hunt, it was a lust for headlines. And the arrogance of somebody who says the law means whatever I say it means.
In pleading for mercy, Burke mentioned that Williams would be "virtually penniless" and without his law license, which was revoked last week, when he gets out jail.
Burke then read a prepared statement from the defendant.
In his statement, which he didn't have the guts to read himself, Williams talked about his "mistakes of character and judgment."
Completely lacking both, Williams jumped to his distinction as the city's first African-American D.A., and then he mentioned, "I squandered that trust placed in me."
"I have failed them," he said about his supporters. And he talked about "the shame I brought to the office I loved," and how much he had hurt his ex-wife, and his girlfriend.
Next up was Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer, who said that Williams didn't deserve any credit, at least at sentencing, for the good things he did while in office. Instead, Zauzmer asked the judge to remember the "devastating effect" Williams' corruption had on the men and women left at the D.A.'s office.
"He is a criminal," Zauzmer said. "And he was a criminal for a long period of time."
The prosecutor talked about how Williams used to take SUVs set aside for drug investigations and use them as his own personal vehicles, for going on vacations, sporting around town, etc.
As D.A. Williams earned between $170,000 and $200,000 a year, Zauzmer said, and yet, "It wasn't good enough for Mr. Williams. He just wants more."
More, both the prosecutor and judge noted, involved stealing $23,000 intended for his mother's care in a Catholic nursing home.
After the oratory was over, the judge sentenced Williams to 60 months in jail, followed by three years of supervised release, also known as probation. Williams also has to pay $58,422 in restitution.
The judge did not impose a fine on Williams, because he noted the deadbeat defendant, who also couldn't pay his lawyers, was dead broke.
And then it was time to slap the cuffs back on Williams, and lead him off to solitary confinement, while he awaits a permanent prison assignment for the next five years of his life.
Outside the courthouse, defense lawyer Burke said he was disappointed, but not surprised, by the judge's decision to not allow Williams to see his mother.
"Yeah, we're a little disappointed at that," Burke said, adding that he had implored the judge to allow the visit for Mom's sake, and not for sonny boy's.
But Zauzmer said the judge made the right decision, because he had determined that Williams wasn't credible, and that he also posed a flight risk.
He was at various stages of his long life, a Daily News sports writer, a restauranteur, a state representative, a City Councilman, a felon, a newspaper editor, a raconteur, always a true character, and above all else, an old-school politician.
Jimmy Tayoun died yesterday at 87, after collapsing in front of his home, apparently after suffering a heart attack.
I first met Tayoun back in 1993, as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, when I visited Tayoun while he was a guest at the Federal Correctional Institute, Schuylkill in Minersville, PA. It's a sleepy minimum security prison located on a foggy mountaintop where the deer run free, about a 2 1/2 hour drive northwest of the city. At the time, Tayoun was doing 40 months after he got nailed by the feds for paying and taking bribes.
There was a basic honesty about Tayoun that shown through his prison whites, and his circumstances.
"OK, I'm not going to say I'm innocent," he told me. "I'm obviously guilty. I pleaded guilty and I'm here." Tayoun explained to me how the prosecutors convinced him to plead guilty. They did it by showing him the indictment they threatened to file against his wife.
Tayoun demonstrated how he stuck out his two arms, as if voluntarily agreeing to be handcuffed. "You got me," is what he told the feds.
I remember being impressed by how Tayoun handled prison. He didn't sulk or mope. Instead, as a former proprietor of The Middle East restaurant in Old City, Tayoun put his knowledge to work, taking over the prison kitchen while they paid him 40 cents an hour.
"I'm top dog," he explained. He also found the time to write two books, while pecking away at an old IBM electric typewriter.
The first of his jailhouse classics -- "Going to Prison?" -- was a slim pinstriped volume that Tayoun billed as a "practical guide for the first offender." It was filled with down-to-earth advice about make sure you pack an extra toothbrush, get your dental work done before you go to jail, and don't forget to bring along an extra pair of slippers.
He also wrote a political novel about a fictional Philadelphia City Councilman, Joe Jowdy, a flamboyant workaholic who was being chased by the feds. Only in Jimmy's version, the councilman beat the rap.
The editors at the Inquirer were so amused by the idea of Tayoun the novelist that they agreed to run a chapter of his unpublished novel in the Inquirer Sunday magazine. Back when they had a Sunday magazine. This was after Tayoun got through doing his time.
When I called Jimmy to give him the good news, I added that the editors were willing to pay him more than $1,000 bucks for his literary work.
Without missing a beat, Tayoun shot back, "Ten percent of it is yours."
I said, Jimmy, isn't this the kind of behavior that got you in trouble?
He just laughed.
When I stopped by to see Tayoun at his house on South Broad Street, I was amazed at how many times his phone rang, and how many of his former constituents would call asking for his help or advice. He had been out of office a long time, but he serviced every one of those calls like he was still running for reelection.
One night, after I got fired by the Inky, Tayoun took me out for dinner in South Philly, and then we wound up at the Triangle Tavern, where we watched some truly bad amateur acts, and met a string of local characters who stood in line to talk to Jimmy.
By the end of the night, I was exhausted and ready to pack it in. Tayoun, however, only seemed to draw more energy from every bad act, and every character that stopped by his table.
In prison, Tayoun had outlined to me his plans to start a weekly newspaper that would cater to politicians. The people who paid for ads in his newspaper would get favorable press, he explained; the ones that didn't pay would get bad press, or even worse, ignored.
When I got out, I marveled how Jimmy got his "Public Record" up and running. And then I watched him screw over the Inquirer by getting his pals in City Hall to publish all their public notices in the Public Record, rather than our city's daily newspaper or record.
It was classic Jimmy in action. He was always twisting arms and cutting deals, but he was so unpredictable, he could flip on you in a second.
True to his ethnic roots, he would have made a fine tribal leader in Lebanon, the homeland of his ancestors. "You don't buy Tayoun," his fellow politicians used to gripe about Jimmy, "you rent him."
But reporters loved him because he was blunt and colorful.
How could you not love a guy who used to bill himself as the City Council's "camel jockey." A guy who used to print up two shades of campaign posters; a lighter-skinned version of himself for Center City, and a tanned version for African-American wards.
When I was writing a book about Vince Fumo, a book that will be published next month, Tayoun gave me a fun interview filled with his usual frank assessments of Vince, and his predecessor in office, Buddy Cianfrani.
When I asked Jimmy if he wanted me to call him back, and read him all his quotes, like many other people in the book insisted on doing, Tayoun just sneered, as if such a courtesy wasn't necessary for somebody who always shot from the hip.
I'll take an old-school back-slapping pol like Tayoun any day over the modern pale version, an empty suit like Michael Nutter. Or our current joyless left-wing mayor, who spends his nights drinking alone, and his days complaining that he can't get anything done.
Rest in peace, Jimmy.
What really alerted me initially was reading the trial transcript for June 13, 2012, where I found Dustin Stuble (“Victim 7”) explaining why his testimony had changed from what he said under oath at the grand jury the previous year. “Through counseling and through talking about different events, through talking about things in my past, different things triggered different memories and [I] have had more things come back, and it’s changed a lot about what I can remember today and what I could remember before, because I had everything negative blocked out.”
Aha! I thought. It is obvious that he was in repressed memory therapy. I was right, as Struble himself told me later, and it turned out that repressed memories lay at the core of the case against Sandusky, while other memory issues lay at the heart of the infamous shower scene that got Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier fired.
By Ralph Cipriano
Former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo is back in the news.
Fumo, who has kept a low profile since his 2013 release from prison, is the subject of an 8,000-word profile in Philadelphia magazine's December issue, available now on newsstands. "The Vince of Darkness" is also the subject of a book I've written, Target: The Senator; A Story About Power And Abuse of Power, coming soon to amazon.com.
I met Fumo back in 2008, when I covered his corruption trial that ended with him getting convicted on all 137 felony counts. I've been working on the book on and off for the past eight years. I'll say one thing about Fumo as a subject -- he may be the devil to some, and crazy to others, but he's never been boring.
The Philly mag story is an interesting read, about Fumo as well as the distorted coverage of him by the Inquirer.
It took a near death experience to convince retired Philadelphia police detective Joe Walsh that he couldn't keep quiet anymore about what he knew.
On June 11, 2015, just another sunny day down at the Jersey Shore, Walsh suddenly felt severe pain in his jaw. An old Army who noticed the color had drained from Walsh's face told him to "Sit down" while he called 911.
In the ambulance, a paramedic asked Walsh if he liked the T-shirt he was wearing. "Not particularly," Walsh told him. "That's good," the paramedic said, before he cut it ff with scissors. "He hooked me up [to a monitor] and that's all I remember," Walsh says. "Everything went white."
The rest of the story of Joe Walsh's journey through Philadelphia pedophile priest scandals can be read here.
By Ralph Cipriano
The "Vince of Darkness" is back with a vengeance.
Philly Voice ran a long interview this morning with former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo.
Fumo, who spent four years in jail after he was convicted on 137 felony counts, characteristically came out swinging, saying he was the target of "an avalanche of negative publicity," and "prosecutorial over-agression," and that he did not deserve being branded with "The Scarlet Letter."
In Fumo's case, instead of an "A" like Hester Prynne, he got an "F" emblazoned on his forehead as a convicted felon.
Philly Voice also ran an excerpt from my new book, Target: The Senator, A Story About Power and Abuse of Power.
That's on top of an 8,000 word Philly mag profile of Fumo that also discusses the book, which is out on Kindle, and will shortly be available in a paperback, with a hard cover on the way.
Anybody who reads Target: The Senator will recognize some familiar themes from this blog; overzealous and unaccountable prosecutors and a hometown newspaper that blindly favors them.
These are the themes that run through so many stories recounted on this blog, including the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse scandals, the rogue cops case, the trials of former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, former L&I Deputy Commissioner Dominic Verdi, and former Penn State President Graham Spanier, as well as the so-called Penn State sex abuse scandal.
Well the granddaddy of all of the cases in this genre is the Fumo case, which was staged for nearly five months at the federal courthouse back in 2008 and 2009.
Whether you loathed or loved Fumo, his case was a travesty from start to finish. There were so many leaks, the defendant was being tried and convicted in the media for years before his trial even began.
In Fumo's case, the feds were able to criminalize politics as usual, and the media and a jury went along with it, deciding that it was a felony for Fumo to fix up an office building, tear down a nuisance bar, rent a car, and put gas in that car. All while the Inquirer portrayed Fumo as Satan.
It was, as I say in the book, a "cartoon version of reality." So in Target: The Senator, I spent a lot of time explaining who Fumo was, how he got that way, and what the taxpayers lost when the feds staged their moral crusade that took him out.
As Harvey A. Silverglate, the author of Three Felonies A Day; How the Feds Target the Innocent, writes in the foreword:
“Target: The Senator brilliantly lays out the federal prosecutorial jihad against one of the most powerful — and colorful — state politicians in recent memory, Vincent J. Fumo . . . . [Cipriano] has interjected truth as a weapon against raw governmental abuse of power and news media gullibility. [He] deserves our thanks for peeling back the curtain on the epic destruction of Fumo, and revealing how it was done. Our job now is to read this important book with care and then to engage, as activist citizens, in an effort to reform the system."
If a rich and powerful guy like Fumo can't get a fair trial, it's bad news for the rest of us.
Another good reason to read the book: nobody who read the Inquirer's Fumo coverage has any idea of what really happened in that case. No, Fumo was not convicted of extorting PECO and Verizon; he was never even charged with that.
What happened in the Fumo case was that the feds, who, recently declassified FBI records show, had targeted Fumo for destruction since the 1970s, were able, with the help of the gullible and irresponsible hometown newspaper, to team up and destroy a guy, along with the presumption of innocence, and a defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial.
In the book, I had access to thousands of pages of previously confidential grand jury transcripts and FBI "302s," stuff the Inquirer never saw, so I could explain exactly how the feds pulled it off. Fumo, of course, also tells his side of the story for the first time.
The hometown newspaper's pro-prosecution bias, even when the prosecutor and that prosecution is proven to be corrupt, is laid out elsewhere on this blog in the Newsweek cover story this week about Philadelphia Police Detective Joe Walsh, and his incredible voyage through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's sex abuse prosecutions.
In this case, a district attorney, Rufus Seth Williams, who is now sitting in solitary confinement in the federal lockup on Market Street, ran with a false prosecution featuring a fraudulent crime victim -- Billy Doe, AKA Danny Gallagher.
In this case, which is still ongoing, four innocent men were sent to jail, one died there, and we had the amazing specter of the detective who led that investigation for the D.A.'s office, Walsh, coming forward publicly to say it was all a lie, and that he caught Danny Gallagher lying. And when he tried to tell the prosecutor that Gallagher was a liar, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, she replied, "You're killing my case."
Walsh's story is all laid out in two court cases as well as a 12-page affidavit filed in Court. It's a story that's on the cover of Newsweek from coast to coast, and the blind people at the Inquirer still refuse to print a word about it. Amazing.
Instead, in the news columns and editorial pages of the Inquirer, the story is always the same, rapacious priests and innocent victims, as illustrated in Maria Panaritis's recent opus on the lasting damage done by Father James Bryzyski.
I'm not saying that isn't a story. It sure is. But so is Detective Walsh coming forward, and so is Danny Gallagher being revealed as a complete fraud. A guy who sent four innocent men to jail, and stole $5 million from the Catholic Church in a civil settlement for his imaginary pain and suffering.
|Courtroom sketch by Susan Schary|
By Ralph Cipriano
In the back of a prison bus, a U.S. marshal was sitting in a steel cage, armed with a shotgun. He was watching over forty men dressed in blue paper jumpsuits and shackled in handcuffs, belly chains, and leg irons.
John Gotti's mob legacy.
Story from realclearlife.com can be read HERE.
"It's a dark comedy" -- George Anastasia
By Ralph Cipriano
Attention Philadelphia: your newly-elected District Attorney, Progressive Larry Krasner, is already getting started on his new job, but that may not be a good thing.
According to a Nov. 29th mass email sent out to hundreds of employees in the D.A.'s office, Krasner sought and was granted permission by interim D.A. Kelley Hodge to have his transition team review the personnel files of those hundreds of employees, presumably to help decide who's going and who's staying in a Krasner administration. The review according to the mass email, was supposed to be conducted last week, but one union official, FOP President John McNesby, said he did not believe that any of the reviews had actually been done yet.
That may be because of an ongoing ethical problem. Krasner, a longtime civil rights lawyer who's sued the city's police department 75 times, and provided pro-bono representation for the likes of ACT UP, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy Philly, isn't officially the D.A. yet, and he won't be until he's sworn in on Jan. 2nd.
Krasner, who could not be reached for comment, apparently has tasked a lawyer from the firm that he is now of counsel to, Patricia Pierce of Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt & Flores, to help review those personnel files at the D.A.'s office. Krasner also has been seen visiting the D.A.'s office at Penn Square a few times, along with members of his transition team, who supposedly have been given office space by the interim D.A. The reaction among some employees at the D.A.'s office has been paranoia.
"People were freaking out," said one source familiar with the process. "I think everybody's worried about being fired."
But did Krasner, who got elected thanks to donations of nearly $1.7 million from billionaire George Soros, jump the gun with his request to review those personnel files? Yes says one expert on legal ethics.
"I don't think he has a right to do that yet," said Samuel C. Stretton, a criminal defense lawyer who has tried hundreds of cases, and lectures and writes frequently about legal and judicial ethics.
According to Stretton, Krasner's transition team can't legally review the personnel files at the D.A.'s office without a court order, or the consent of the employees. But from the way the Nov. 29th mass email to the employees was written, saying no to Progressive Larry did not appear to be an option.
On Nov. 29th, a mass email went out from First Deputy District Attorney John Delaney, addressed to all "D.A. domino users." Under the subject line "transition," Delaney wrote:
"D.A, Elect Krasner has asked that his transition team review the personnel files of office employees. The District Attorney has agreed to his request, and that review will begin next week. If you as an employee of the office would like to inspect your personnel file, in accord with the office policy, you may do so tomorrow or Friday. The files are in the small conference room 1840, at the end of the middle hallway on the 18th floor, opposite the large conference room. A member of the human resources department will be present and will provide the file to you. You may not add to or subtract from the file . . .
"To enable an orderly inspection, the following times are strongly suggested. If you can not make your suggested time, you may appear at another time. If you wish to inspect your file but cannot do so tomorrow or Friday, please contact Kathy Martin."
That's kind of funny because Martin, a former first assistant district attorney under former D.A. Seth Williams, before Williams was indicted and sent to jail, has already turned in her resignation, and will be leaving next month.
The files, according to the email, were viewable from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday Nov. 30th and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday Dec. 1st.
Stretton says he understands Krasner's desire for expediency.
"He's not the D.A. yet, but he will be shortly," Stretton said. "I'm sure he [Krasner] has the best intentions," Stretton said. "But, he's coming into an office with a lot of dissension so let's do it the right way."
The right way, Stretton said, would have been to either wait until he's sworn in, or seek the consent of the employees, and give them the option of saying no to a personnel file review.
"The new district attorney doesn't want to start off by breaking the law," Stretton said. "His job is to uphold the law. It's a little disappointing to me that Larry Krasner is off to a bad start."
When told some employees had complained about the review of their personnel files, Stretton said, "I think people have a right to be offended."
Asked about how this development bodes for the new Krasner administration, Stretton said, "This is not a good omen."
Nor is the way Krasner has handled Big Trial's request for an explanation of what Krasner is up to down at the D.A.'s office.
Cameron Kline, a spokesperson for the D.A.'s office, did not respond to a request for comment last week.
Lawyers at Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt & Flores also did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the folks at krasnertradition.com, the website set up by Progressive Larry that promises "a new era in criminal justice."
So the newly-elected D.A. isn't talking; neither is Interim D.A. Kelley Hodge. But former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who served as the city's top law enforcement officer for 20 years, said she didn't set foot in the D.A.'s office until the day she was sworn in.
"You can certainly quote me that I didn't handle it that way, and you can bet your boots Seth Williams didn't set foot in that office until he was sworn in," Abraham wrote in an email.
Pierce is a law partner at the firm that Krasner is now a part of.
On Sept. 6, 2017, Krasner merged his firm of Krasner and Associates with the Greenblatt firm and "will be joining the firm on an Of Counsel basis," according to the Greenblatt firm's website.
"We are so proud to have Mr. Krasner and the other members of Kranser and Associations join our firm," the website said. "We are thrilled that he has selected us to be the firm he wishes to transition his clients to while he pursues his goal of becoming Philadelphia's next District Attorney. We look forward to working with Mr. Krasner in these upcoming months and to easing his transition back into public life. As importantly, we also look forward to serving his clients."
John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he was aware of the review of the personnel files, but he did not think the reviews had been done yet.
"The transition team was granted access to review the attorneys' files for any discipline or negative performance info," McNesby said. "Each had to sign a confidentiality waiver that they do not discuss it."
|The D.A.'s Star Witness|
If you're caught in a lie, when do you have to admit it?
If you're the district attorney's office of Philadelphia, never.
So the D.A.'s office, under Interim D.A. Kelley Hodge, is upholding the corrupt regime of her predecessor, Rufus Seth Williams, by continuing to pursue a retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn.
Never mind that Williams is wearing a jumpsuit and sitting in a federal prison in Oklahoma, where he's doing a five-year stretch for taking bribes.
Or that Danny Gallagher, the D.A.'s former star witness in the case against Msgr. Lynn, is hiding out down in Florida, with his ill-gotten gains. That's the $5 million that Gallagher stole in a civil settlement from the Catholic Church, a heist made possible by the corrupt acts of D.A. Williams, who certified that a fraud like Danny Gallagher was an official victim of sex abuse.
In a 25-page brief filed Dec. 5th in state Superior Court, the D.A.'s office seeks to overturn Judge Gwendolyn Bright's motion to limit the evidence that the D.A. can present in a retrial of Msgr. Lynn. The defendant's lawyers, however, have a more ambitious goal; they're seeking to have the retrial thrown out on grounds of double jeopardy because of intentional prosecutorial misconduct.
Lynn is a free man because the Superior Court in 2015, for the second time in three years, overturned the monsignor's original 2012 conviction on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, namely Gallagher.
On March 24th, Judge Bright ruled that "certain information should have been provided to the defense," such as Detective Joe Walsh's trial prep of Gallagher. Walsh testified that he repeatedly questioned Gallagher about several factual discrepancies in his various tales of abuse, and that Gallagher responded by either claiming he was high on drugs, saying nothing, or inventing new stories.
In her March 24th ruling, Judge Bright said the prosecutorial misconduct in the Lynn case was sufficient to justify granting a new trial to the defendant. But since Msgr. Lynn had already been granted a new trial by the state Superior Court, the judge said, she didn't have to do anything else.
Well, there was one thing she could have done. If Judge Bright had found that the prosecutorial misconduct in the Msgr. Lynn case was intentional, then she could have thrown out the retrial on grounds of double jeopardy.
But the judge ruled that a "total dismissal is not a sanction warranted under the facts," and that there was "insufficient evidence to support such a remedy."
Well, Judge, I would say that if you know your star witness is a liar, and you put him on the witness stand anyway, that sounds intentional to me. Especially if the lead detective on the case, Detective Walsh, has already told your prosecutor that Gallagher is a liar, and the prosecutor responded by saying, "You're killing my case."
And that's exactly what Lynn's lawyers -- Thomas A. Bergstrom, Marc Tepper, and David A. Schumacher -- argue in their 24-page appeal brief filed Dec. 1st.
The defense cites the original grand jury report of Jan, 21 2011, where it notes that "the grand jury investigation began with the tearful testimony" of Danny Gallagher. He's the former altar boy who claimed that during the 1998-99 school year, when he was a 10 year old fifth grader, he was repeatedly raped by two priests and a Catholic school teacher.
Lie No. 1 --- Gallagher claimed that back when he was in fifth grade, he was a member of the bell choir maintenance crew at St. Jerome's Church in Northeast Philly. It was while he was putting the bells away after a concert, Gallagher claimed, that he was first accosted by Father Edward V. Avery, one of his attackers.
As anybody who's been reading this blog knows, three of Gallagher's former teachers testified that only eighth graders were big enough to lift the heavy bells and tables used by the bell choir, so there were no fifth grade members of the bell choir crew.
Lie No. 2 -- Danny Gallagher claimed he was serving at an early morning Mass when he was first attacked by Father Charles Engelhardt. Walsh, the defense lawyers wrote, found out that Danny's older brother James, also an altar boy at the same school, was the kid who served the early morning Mass. Walsh also found out that James Gallagher said his parents drove him to and from the church, and that the sexton, a senior citizen volunteer at the church, was the last person to lock up and leave the building.
The presence of the sexton would have been another reason not to believe Danny Gallagher's fables that he was alone in the sacristy after the early morning Mass when the priest raped him.
Lie No. 3 -- the grand jury report claimed that Gallagher's mother noticed a big personality change in her son while he was still at St. Jerome's. Gallagher's mother, however, testified to the grand jury that she noticed the big personality change when her son was a freshman in high school, and got kicked out for possession of marijuana and brass knuckles. Not while Danny was in elementary school, at St. Jerome's.
But the resourceful D.A.'s office solved that problem by simply rewriting the mother's grand jury testimony to fit their plot line.
In their appeal brief, the defense lawyers harp on the fact that the D.A.'s office had to know that Danny Gallagher was a liar.
"Despite the fact that it [the D.A.'s office] knew that it's primary witness was lying, the Commonwealth proceeded with its manufactured case against [Lynn] and put Gallagher on the stand," the defense lawyers wrote. "During his testimony, Gallagher falsely stated that he was part of the bell crew and choir in the 5th grade. Gallagher also falsely testified that he served the 6:15 a. m. Mass" with the priest in fifth grade.
"But when the Commonwealth's lead investigator challenged Gallagher on these facts prior to trial, he could not adequately respond," the defense lawyers wrote. "And when the Commonwealth's lead investigator challenged [Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen] on these facts prior to trial, the response was, 'You're killing my case."
"Yet the Commonwealth proceeded to trial against [Lynn] anyway, desperate for a conviction, failing along the way to disclose those facts to [Lynn] and essentially suborning perjury," the defense wrote. "And, notwithstanding its knowledge then of these facts the Commonwealth continues to ignore the reality that its key witness is a liar, and continues to re-prosecute [Lynn] , still desperate for the conviction it rightfully lost on appeal."
In summation, the defense lawyers claim that the prosecutorial misconduct in the D.A.'s office was intentional.
"The Commonwealth abandoned their legal, ethical and moral responsibilities by presenting false testimony to two juries, resulting in the conviction and imprisonment of three men, one of whom died in prison."
The defense lawyers point out that in previous cases, the Superior Court has held that when the prosecution "intentionally engages in misconduct to deprive a defendant of a fair trial, double jeopardy attaches."
"Here, the Commonwealth improperly prepared Gallagher to testify, despite what it knew from Walsh, and continues to prosecute this case to this day, again despite what it knows from Walsh," the defense lawyers wrote.
In their 25-page brief, three top officials from the D.A.'s office, Hugh Burns Jr., Ronald Eisenberg, and John P. Delaney Jr., along with Interim D.A. Kelley Hodge, don't even mention the name of Detective Joe Walsh. Nor do they address any issue of misconduct.
Apparently, at the D.A.'s office, where the last occupant went to jail, they're above all that.
Instead, the D.A.'s entire 25-page brief, the D.A. attacks the "continuing criminal scheme" of Msgr. Lynn, which was a "pattern of intentionally mishandling other sexually abusive priests with the intent to shelter" both the priests and the church at large from scandal.
When Lynn was first tried, the trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, approved the introduction as evidence of 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse dating back to 1948, three years before Msgr. Lynn was born, to show a pattern in the archdiocese of covering up sex abuse.
When the Superior Court threw out Lynn's conviction in 2015, a three-judge panel found that the evidence provided by the 21 cases was far exceeded by their prejudicial effect.
When the D.A. went to retry the case, they asked Judge Bright to admit nine supplemental cases of sex abuse to show a pattern of church cover ups. The judge approved the admission of only three cases.
So in their appeal brief, the D.A.'s office wants the judge's order overturned, arguing that all nine cases should be presented as evidence.
My criminal defense and civil liberties law practice, spanninghalf a century, has exposed me to several shockingly broad gaps in American life between appearance and reality.
No gap, in my experience, has been broader than that between the commonly accepted reputation of federal criminal justice and the sordid realities of how the United States Department of Justice, often with the connivance of the federal judiciary, dispenses justice.
A disproportionate number of federal trial and appellate court judges are former prosecutors, and so there is an uncomfortable amount of symbiosis between the Justice Department and the bench. The number and variety of innocent people railroaded by the system would be sufficient to undermine any semblance of public confidence in federal criminal justice if the public understood the details of these cases.
Ralph Cipriano has now taken a giant step in this educational (and muckraking) endeavor. He has written a book describing in often dramatic detail the trials and tribulations of longtime Pennsylvania state Senator (and one-time unchallenged legislative powerhouse) Vincent J. Fumo. Cipriano’s contribution to our understanding is how the system works— and how it enhances the career prospects and power of federal prosecutors while mercilessly, and too often falsely, destroying the lives and careers of the targets. Target: The Senator; A Story About Power and Abuse of Power, is a worthy successor to my own effort to pull open the proverbial wizard’s curtain in the Land of Oz and expose the not-so-obvious manipulations being performed.
In 2009 I published Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. Those familiar with the depredations and depravities of federal criminal justice praised the book. Those who were ignorant of how the system reallyworked questioned in disbelief the real-life stories that I recounted. Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, and a few federal judges, departed from their colleagues to let me know — usually in confidence, but onlyon very rare occasion publicly — that I was on to something. The subtitle of my book —“how the feds target the innocent” — was nothyperbolic.
I hope that anyone who has doubted the extent to which federal prosecutors are able to, and in fact do with alarming regularity, target the innocent, has been cured of any such illusions by now. However, these kinds of systemic surveys of the dark corners of federal criminal justice — one thinks alsoof Licensed to Lie by former federal prosecutor-turned-defense lawyer Sydney Powell (2014) — are not quite adequate to the task. They are necessary, but not sufficient, for alerting the public and the media as to how an innocent citizen, even a powerful one, can be railroaded.
What has been lacking to date has been a detailed, book-length, step-by-step depiction, in a single case, of precisely how it is done. Cipriano has brilliantly filled in that gap, and now the general public, as well as journalists who so often report on federal prosecutions with all the gullibility of a victim of a three-card monte game, will be able to blame nobody but themselves if they believe the often-blatant propaganda that accompanies so many of these prosecutions and the news reports purporting to cover them.
Target: The Senator brilliantly lays out the federal prosecutorial jihad against one of the most powerful — and colorful — state politicians in recent memory, Vincent J. Fumo, who for so long dominated state politics in his position in the Pennsylvania Senate, a rank he attained after earlier apprentice years spent climbing the ladder. “In the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania,” Cipriano writes, “mayors and governors came and went. But from his stronghold in the Pennsylvania Senate, where he held the purse strings to the state budget, Vincent J. Fumo reigned for nearly a generation as a power broker.”
The primaryfocus of Cipriano’s fast-paced and often breathtaking account, however, is not so much the life and career of this fascinating political figure, but rather the federal prosecutors, aided and abetted by often manipulative agents of the FBI, who together were determined to bring down the large prey in their gun sights. This is often done for personal career advancement, but sometimes, it would appear, merely for the enhanced institutional power of the agency for which they worked.
Cipriano has a better understanding of the criminal justice system than most lawyers and even many judges. The phenomenon that he so deftly dissects will have the ring of truth to the sophisticated and experienced criminal justice system participant (including defendant victims and prisoners). To others, the book will be a new and shocking experience that in the end will be depressingly educational.
Fumo was surely no angel, but his more questionable and rangy activities were not serious violations of clear statutes and regulations, but, rather, ethically dubious
Recently retired Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, in his foreword to Three Felonies a Day, tells the story of the tyranny exercised under the guise of law enforcement in the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and ’80s:
The picture ultimately produced by the feds, who also had the advantage of being able to threaten witnesses with indictment unless their stories supported the prosecutors’ theories, managed to criminalize, in Cipriano’s words, “behavior formerly known as politics as usual.”
Cipriano’s dramatic telling of the story of the rapid rise, but even steeper and more dramatic fall, of one of the most idiosyncratic but powerful state political figures in recent memory would doubtless make, as the Hollywood folks would tout it, a major motion picture.
Sadly, however, the story also belongs in the annals of the corruption of the federal criminal justice system. It is a story whose official version would have been purveyed without dissent by the gullible and sensationalistic Philadelphia news media, if not for the intervention of Cipriano, who has interjected truth as a weapon against raw governmental abuse of power and news media gullibility. Cipriano deserves our thanks for peeling back the curtain on the epicdestruction of Fumo and revealing how it was done. Our job now is to read this important book with care and then to engage, as activist citizens, in an effort to reform the system.
If they made a movie out of Big Trial's top stories from 2017, it would be called Trading Places, starring former District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams and convicted child rapist Bernard Shero.
Shero, falsely accused of rape by a lying scheming altar boy, got out of jail nearly a dozen years early, thanks to the dogged reporting of this blog, and the revelatory testimony of retired Detective Joe Walsh.
Williams, the corrupt D.A. who cooked up the fraudulent "Billy Doe" prosecution that sent former Catholic schoolteacher Shero to jail, along with three falsely accused Catholic priests, wound up in prison for political corruption, thanks to the work of the U.S. Attorney's Office from Jersey, which prosecuted the case.
If it wasn't legal justice, it certainly was poetic justice -- Shero, finally a free man, and Rufus, in a jump suit, finally where he belongs, behind bars.
Williams is currently doing a five year stretch in a federal prison in Oklahoma because the U.S.
Attorney nailed him for taking bribes from, as the judge who sentenced him put it, the "parasites you chose to surround yourself with."
|Big Trial's Man Of The Year|
Along the way, we broke the story about how our illustrious cigar-smoking former big shot of a D.A. got himself kicked out the Union League, and how eight years ago in Election Court, he got nailed for misusing his mother's credit cards. We capped off our all-Rufus coverage by describing a face-to-face meeting with the man himself inside the men's room at the federal courthouse, where he was on trial for corruption.
Here at Big Trial, we sure are sorry about not having Rufus to kick around any more in the New Year. But we do look forward to chronicling the exploits of our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, as he sets out to not only reform the D.A.'s office, which could use a fumigating after Rufus, but also the entire criminal justice system in our city.
Memo to Larry and his new spokesman, Ben Waxman: Your predecessor stonewalled this blog for six years, and it didn't turn out so well for him. You may want to consider a new media strategy.
Last year, when we weren't writing about Rufus, we began covering the so-called sex abuse scandal at Penn State. What a freaking travesty that case is. Attention Penn State Nation: We are about to get into this subject big-time as I've been working on a long story to be published soon in Newsweek, which just published a cover story about retired Detective Walsh.
Stay tuned for further developments. And to all our readers, a belated Happy New Year.
|Jeff Lindy: The Left-Wing D.A.'s New Right Hand Man|
After new District Attorney Larry Krasner got through cleaning house yesterday by firing 30 assistant district attorneys, there's nobody left to prosecute Msgr. William J. Lynn.
One of the ADAs whacked by Krasner was Patrick Blessington, the lead prosecutor on the Lynn case. Blessington was also the guy who attacked retired Detective Joe Walsh as a "rogue" cop, saying he wasn't authorized to interview more than 30 witnesses in the Billy Doe case.
Blessington had nonsensically claimed that Walsh had done the interviews on his own. That, of course, prompted laughs from Judge Ellen Ceisler. In the Philadelphia archdiocese sex abuse prosecutions, Walsh was the key witness who came forward to say that he believed Billy Doe was a liar, and that Doe, whose real name is Danny Gallagher, had admitted to Walsh that he just "made up stuff." The retired detective's testimony has already forced the D.A. to let Bernard Shero, a former Catholic schoolteacher convicted of raping Gallagher, out of jail nearly a dozen years early.
Walsh was going to be the defense's star witness if the D.A. proceeded with its announced plans to retry Msgr. Lynn on one count of endangering the welfare of children. But now it looks as though that retrial may never happen, because of some other moves Krasner made.
Also gone from the D.A.'s office are a couple of senior lawyers, Ronald Eisenberg and Hugh J. Burns Jr. Eisenberg was the longtime deputy D.A. in charge of the D.A.'s law division, which kept deciding to appeal the Lynn case, after the monsignor's conviction was twice overturned by the state Superior Court. Burns was the longtime chief of the appeals unit who kept arguing that the monsignor was a danger to society and belonged in jail.
Eisenberg is said to have already departed for the state attorney general's office; Burns was one of the ADAs fired by Krasner yesterday.
But Krasner made another recent personnel move that may have something to do with whether the D.A. decides to retry Lynn. Krasner hired Jeffrey M. Lindy to be his top deputy. Lindy, a criminal defense lawyer who's a former deputy D.A. in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a former assistant U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia, was one of four lawyers who defended Msgr. Lynn in his original 2012 trial where he was convicted on one count of child endangerment.
Lindy, of course, would have an ethical conflict in having anything to do with the retrial of his former client. But maybe he can venture an opinion to his new boss that the Billy Doe case was bogus from day one, a manufactured prosecution starring a fraudulent victim. And that continuing to beat this dead horse would be a waste of time.
Lynn has already served 33 months of his 36 month sentence, plus 18 months of house arrest, so it makes little sense for the D.A. to retry the case as the defendant has already done almost all of his time.
The former D.A. who announced that his office would appeal the Lynn case is now wearing a jumpsuit and sitting in a federal prison in Oklahoma, where he's doing a five-year stretch after pleading guilty to taking bribes.
With Rufus Seth Williams in jail, Pat Blessington looking for work, and Hugh Burns and Ron Eisenberg gone from the D.A.'s office, it's a perfect time for Progressive Larry Krasner to declare victory in the Lynn case and move on.
|Back In Action|
On Friday, when the Philly D.A.'s office was closed due to frigid weather, assistant district attorneys were getting calls on their cell phones, telling them to come right down to the office.
Inside, people were lined up, waiting to be fired.
The first list of the newly fired people that went up had 28 names on it. The man on the right, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, was No. 25 on that list.
But by the end of the day, a new list of 31 names went up. And Blessington's name was nowhere to be found. Rumor had it that some last-minute lobbying had saved the job of the lead prosecutor in the case of Msgr. William J. Lynn.
Blessington, who had been targeted in the "Porngate" scandal -- unfairly, truth be told, because he supposedly never opened any of the pornographic emails sent to his cue -- had been spared in the purge by Krasner.
"District Attorney Lawrence S. Krasner requests the resignations of the following," the memo from the new chief of staff said, "with the understanding that they are not to return."
Three of the names on the list were circled, highlighting the ADAs with gun permits.
So if Krasner chooses to retry the Lynn case, he still has Blessington around to prosecute. But Deputy District Attorney Ronald Eisenberg, the head of the D.A.'s law division, resigned before the purge to take a new job with the state attorney general's office. And Hugh J. Burns Jr., chief of the D.A.'s appeal unit, was No. 2 on the second list of people fired.
So the two men who worked on the appeals that kept the Lynn case going, when the monsignor's conviction was twice overturned, are gone.
Here's the first lis that went up:
1. Derek Riker
2. Mike Barry
3. Andrew Notar
4. Stacy Hughes
5. Laurie Moore
6. Tom Lipscomb
7. Gwen Cudjik
8. Carlos Vega
9. John Delaney
10 Jan McDermott
11. Jen Hoffman
12. Jim Carpenter
13. Nicole Pedicinio
14. Brian Zarallo
15. Yvonne Ruiz
16. Michelle Seidner
17. Melissa Francis
18. Mark Gilson
19. Joe Whitehead
20. Tami Levin
21. Caroline Keating
22. Lauren Realberg
23. Namratha Ravikant
24. Jason Kleinman
25. Pat Blessington
26. Mark Constanzo
27. Greg Rowe
28. ADA Cavanaugh [First name missing]
Here's the second list:
1. Michael Barry
2. Hugh Burns
3. James Carpenter
4. Thomas Carter Sr.
5. E. Mark Constanzo
6. Gwen Cudjik
7. John Delaney
8. Monique Wescott
9. Melissa Francis
10. Elizabeth Graham-Rubin
11. Mark Gilson
12. Robin Godfrey
13. Jennifer Hoffman
14. Stacey Hughes
16. Jason Kleinman
17. Bridget Kirn
18. Tami Levin
19. Laquan Lightfoot
20. Thomas Lipscomb
21. Carl Mahler
22 Carolyn McGlynn-Keating
23. Laurie Moore
24. Andrew Notaristefano
25. Nicole Pedecino
26. Namratha Ravikant
27. Lauren Realberg
28. Derek Riker
29. Greg Rowe
30. Yvonne Ruiz
31. Michelle Seidner
32. Joseph Whitehead
By Ralph Cipriano
A Philadelphia schoolteacher who yelled and cursed out police officers during a protest last August over the Frank Rizzo statue will not have to face any legal consequences for his actions.
Police have been informed by the D.A.'s office that Progressive Larry Krasner, our new D.A. bought and paid for with more than $1 million of George Soros's money, has dropped the charges against John Sheerin, who had been arrested and charged with harassment and making terroristic threats.
Police said that Sheerin, 63, a teacher at Julia De Burgos Elementary School in North Philadelphia, got into an argument with the cops and cursed them out. It happened at a rally where protesters were chanting "Tear it down." Sheerin, standing at a police barricade in front of the statue, was recorded on a cell phone video yelling obscenities at white "racist" cops.
He was suspended by the school district, pending an internal investigation. But now that Krasner let him off, he can return to his job and teach our kids how to curse out cops and get away with it, all in the name of social justice.
The decision by Krasner not to prosecute Sheerin comes eight days after the D.A.'s office announced it would not prosecute Diop Olugbala, a black Communist activist, who was caught on camera by Fox 29 last year spray-painting the Rizzo statue.
Now that Krasner is in charge of law enforcement in our city, public vandalism is no longer a crime, at least when it comes to attacking the Rizzo statue posted at Thomas Paine Plaza.
Olugbala, as reported by philadelinquency.com, was represented by Michael Coard, a civil rights lawyer who was a member of Crasher's transition team.
On a facebook post, Olugbala announced the dropping of the desecration charge against him.
"My upcoming Jan. 10 trial will be continued based on a number of factors, which gives me the opportunity to mobilize further support for critical struggles to free black political prisoners --- including the cases of #st.pete3, rakem halogen, Takiyah Thomson, Mumia Abu Jamal and the 2 million black men and women held captive in u.s. prisons."
It's a great day for protesters; for the cops, not so much.
Well, it didn't take long for our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, to screw up big-time.
In a 24-page brief filed Tuesday in state Superior Court, Krasner, who's in his first month on the job, has decided to go forward with an appeal in the case of Msgr. William J. Lynn. He's the former secretary of clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia whose 2012 conviction on one count of endangering the welfare of a child has twice been overturned by the state Superior Court.
In the brief, which is filled with all sorts of official dishonesty in what is already a travesty of a case, the new D.A. pretends that a trial judge last year didn't find the D.A.'s office under Krasner's predecessor, Rufus Seth Williams, guilty of prosecutorial misconduct. When the judge clearly did, and stated so in open court.
The D.A. also attempts to pave over the main issue in the case, mainly that one of the prosecutors, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, had no qualms about putting a witness on the stand, Danny Gallagher AKA Billy Doe, the lying scheming altar boy, that she knew was a liar. Even though she had been repeatedly informed by Detective Joseph Walsh, the lead detective in the case, that all the evidence Walsh had gathered contradicted the fables Gallagher was telling.
In a 12-page affidavit, Walsh went even further, saying that when he had repeatedly questioned Gallagher, the lying, scheming altar boy flat-out admitted that he had just "made up stuff," when he told the prosecutors crazy, violent stories of abuse. In those stories, Gallagher claimed he was: violently anally raped for five hours behind the locked doors of the sacristy, beaten and knocked unconscious by a priest, stripped naked and tied up with altar sashes by another priest, and strangled with a seatbelt by a schoolteacher, all of which he subsequently retracted when he made up a new story of abuse.
In the brief filed by Lawrence J. Goode, Nancy Winkelman, Carolyn Engel Temin, and Krasner, the D.A.'s office contended that Gallagher, a brazen liar, was telling the truth when he was repeatedly questioned by Walsh during a prep session before the 2012 trial of Msgr. Lynn.
During the prep session, Walsh questioned Gallagher about nine factual discrepancies in his various stories of abuse. In a civil deposition, Walsh stated that Gallagher responded by either claiming he was high on drugs, putting his head down and saying nothing, or telling a new story.
None of this was reported to defense lawyers in the case, and Judge Gwendolyn Bright ruled that it was prosecutorial misconduct serious enough to warrant a new trial for Lynn. But since the state Superior Court had already granted Lynn a new trial, the judge didn't take any further action.
"This is not Brady material," the D.A. declared in their brief, contradicting Judge Bright's finding, regarding the landmark 1963 case where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors had to turn over to defendants any material that might be beneficial to their case.
As far as the new D.A. is concerned, Gallagher saying he was "high on drugs" was "consistent with his trial testimony that he heavily used drugs as a result of being sexually molested," the D.A.'s office wrote.
Walsh had claimed in court that when he repeatedly told Sorensen about Gallagher's amazing lack of credibility, her response was -- drum roll please -- "You're killing my case."
When Walsh stated this in open court, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington claimed it wasn't true. Lynn's lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, then told Judge Bright that the only way to solve this controversy was to put both Walsh and Sorensen on the stand at a subsequent hearing, to find out which one was telling the truth.
But when the day for that hearing came around, the D.A.'s office under Rufus Seth Williams, now wearing a jumpsuit in a federal prison in Oklahoma, decided not to put Sorensen on the witness stand. So they forever lost their right to contest that what Walsh said Sorensen said wasn't true.
Nevertheless, the D.A.'s office under Krasner wrote that "the claim is factually false" that Sorensen ever said, "You're killing my case." The D.A.'s brief also disingenuously states that Judge Bright decided that Walsh's claim was "not supported by the evidence," when the decision Judge Bright came to was that the level of misconduct alleged by Walsh with "You're killing my case" did not rise to the level where the judge would blow out the retrial of Lynn, on grounds of double jeopardy.
In their brief, the D.A.'s office asserts that Msgr. Lynn "did not prove" that Gallagher lied, the judge didn't rule that he lied, and "there is no evidence that the lied."
In their brief, the D.A.'s office also attempts to take on Walsh's contention that Danny Gallagher the bald-faced liar was lying when he said that as a fifth-grader, he was a member of the maintenance crew that helped set up tables and bells for the church's bell choir.
Gallagher had claimed then when he was putting away the tables and bells, he was accosted by Father Edward Avery, who subsequently raped the altar boy.
In court testimony, three teachers, including the longtime choir director at St. Jerome's, the alleged scene of the rape spree, testified that only eighth-graders were big and strong enough to lift the heavy bells and tables used by the bell choir, which each weighed more than 30 pounds. [As a fifth-grader, Gallagher only weighed 63 pounds, his medical records showed.] The teachers also testified that the bell crew went home after they set up the tables and bells, and that it was the members of the bell choir who put away the bells and tables after the concerts were over.
In their brief, the D.A.'s office asserts, however, that none of the teachers "actually denied" that Gallagher was a member of the bell choir maintenance crew as a fifth-grader. The D.A.'s office also asserts that Walsh "never established as a fact that the bell crew activity involved only eighth grade boys."
Sorry, Progressive Larry, but you are playing word games in a case where Danny Gallagher has been revealed in his civil depositions, criminal trial testimony, and medical records to be a complete liar.
It's unbelievable, but this travesty of a case may have a second act if Msgr. Lynn is actually retried later this year.
Lynn has already served 33 months of his minimum 36-month sentence, plus 18 months of house arrest. So that even if the D.A. wins a retrial, Lynn would only have to serve an extra three months.
So our D.A., who just let a guy who cursed out the cops off the hook, along with a guy who was caught on camera defacing the Frank Rizzo statue, has decided to defend the honor of a lying, scheming altar boy who also stole $5 million from the Catholic Church.
Hey Progressive Larry, if there is a retrial, I'm betting that Danny Gallagher isn't going to fly up from Florida and run the risk of a perjury rap by testifying in a Philadelphia courtroom. All for the sake of another show trial, especially after Danny Boy has already hit the lottery, to the tune of $5 million.
But as far as our new Progressive D.A. is concerned, the show must go on. Even if everyone has to know by now that it's thoroughly corrupt.