Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels

Channel Catalog

Channel Description:

Giving readers an unvarnished, uncensored, insider's view of the biggest courtroom dramas.
    0 0

    By Ralph Cipriano

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

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

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

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

    0 0

    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.

    0 0

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

    By Ralph Cipriano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                            *                          *                        *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                            *                          *                        *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                    *                          *                        *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                       *                          *                        *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This is wonderful, Fumo thought.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                        *                          *                        *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Then, the defendant made a confession.

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

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

    “It’s a battle.”

    0 0

    John Gotti's mob legacy.

    Story from can be read HERE.

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

    0 0

    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, 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."

    0 0

    The D.A.'s Star Witness
    By Ralph Cipriano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

    By Harvey A. Silverglate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                            Harvey A. Silverglate

                                                                            Cambridge, Massachusetts

                                                                            August, 2017

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

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

    0 0

    By Ralph Cipriano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

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

    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.

    0 0

    Back In Action
    By Ralph Cipriano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Here's the first lis that went up:

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

    Here's the second list:

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

    0 0

    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, 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.

    0 0

    By Ralph Cipriano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

    By Ralph Cipriano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 0

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

    By Ralph Cipriano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                            *                          *                        *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                     *                          *                        *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                    *                          *                        *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I can’t do that,” Fumo said.

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

    Fletcher didn’t take it well.

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

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

                                      *                          *                        *

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

    When Fumo saw Goode, he was elated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                              *                          *                        *

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

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

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

    That ticked off Fumo.

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

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

    He quickly regrouped.

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

    “Nope,” Fumo said.

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

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

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

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

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

    He just lived too long.

    Target: The Senator now available at

    0 0
  • 01/29/18--08:35: Joey Merlino Rolls the Dice
  • By George Anastasia

    Same game.

    Different venue.

    Philadelphia's only celebrity gangster, Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, goes on trial this week in federal court in Manhattan for racketeering and conspiracy charges that could land him in jail or a good part of the rest of his life.

    He's been there before.

    But this time the stakes seem even higher.

    The rest of the story can be read HERE.

    0 0

    In the latest episode of Mob Talk Sitdown, veteran crime journalists George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser have the latest on Philadelphia Mob Boss Joey Merlino.

    He dodged another bullet in federal court on Tuesday when a jury failed to reach a verdict on gambling and healthcare fraud charges after a three-week trial. A mistrial was declared. So where does that leave the 55-year-old gangster?

    0 0

    By Ralph Cipriano

    America's most famous preacher was tall, 6-foot-3, with an impressive shock of regal white hair and bright blue eyes. But he seemed frail and unsteady as he walked across the spongy Astroturf at old Veterans Stadium.

    Twenty-six years ago, I was standing in line to meet Billy Graham, who was about to launch a historic five-day crusade at the Vet.

    I was a 38-year-old reporter  for The Philadelphia Inquirer who had wound up on the religion beat as a fluke. And I was not all that thrilled about meeting Richard Nixon's favorite preacher. But in person, the 73 year-old evangelist disarmed me with how gracious he was.

    When it was my turn to greet him, Billy grabbed my hand, held it, and thanked me for all the wonderful stories I had written about him. I wondered if he was kidding, but he seemed so sincere about it, and went out of his way to be kind.

    “Why I never knew you were so young and so handsome,” Billy gushed. Ok, he may have been a bit corny, but one on one, this world-famous celebrity would much rather talk about you than himself. I was struck by his humility. He made me wish I’d been kinder to him in print.

    My experience with the 1992 Billy Graham Crusade began a month earlier, when I met Nelson Diaz, who had just been named crusade chairman.

    Diaz was a former gang member from Harlem who went on to become Pennsylvania’s first Latino judge. He told me he used to worry about his day job, but that was before he was named crusade chairman. Billy wasn’t due to arrive in Philadelphia for another month, the judge said, but already, the crusade had changed his life.

    Judge Diaz, a perfect stranger, told me how he woke up every morning at 5, got down on his knees and prayed for two hours. Then he went to work. “I never realized God could ever be that important in your life,” the judge said. “I just can’t get enough.”

    Diaz told me how his prayer time changed his outlook on life. Diaz was the administrative judge of Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court, but he told me, “I don’t feel I’m indispensable anymore. . . Hey, if they want to get rid of me tomorrow, fine, I’ll find something else to do,” the judge said. “I don’t have to prove myself to anybody but God.”

    It was a remarkable declaration from a public official, published June 2,1992 on the front page of the metro section of The Philadelphia Inquirer. But Diaz seemed almost blasé about it.

    He was one of eleven male members of a crusade executive committee that had been meeting every two weeks for the past six months. The group consisted of the judge, a Billy Graham crusade official, and nine local pastors. (Women leaders had a separate prayer group). 

    The judge said that during the two-hour prayer sessions, men broke down and cried and asked one another to forgive the sins of prejudice and misunderstanding. The prayer group was bringing together blacks, whites and Latinos, city dwellers and suburbanites.

    “Prayer is an unbelievable resource,” the judge said. “If you’re praying to the same God, that’s when you break the walls down.” The sessions became confessionals. We pray for each other,” the judge said. “We are asking each other for forgiveness. We are pretty much in tears.”

    Diaz introduced me to a man he called his “soul brother,” the Rev. William B. Moore, a black Baptist minister. “The real nice thing about this crusade is that people have put aside their theological differences and have come together around a cause,” Rev. Moore said. He admitted that a decade earlier, he would have never gotten involved in a Billy Graham crusade. But Billy had become more inclusive, Rev. Moore said, and so had he.

    White pastors had their own confessions. The Rev. Glenn Blossom, a suburban pastor, said the prayer sessions “showed me my prejudices. . . It humbled me at that point, and made me a servant to the poor, the homeless. It made me more like Jesus Christ.”

    I was glad the crusade leaders were excited about Billy’s upcoming visit, because it gave me something to write about. And my editors, even the non-believers, were hot on Billy. Amazingly, they wanted lots of stories. But I was not enthusiastic about Billy coming to town on my watch. I wasn’t a fan; I thought Billy was a tired act. I did not want to have to sit and listen to him for five straight nights at Veterans Stadium. Whenever I saw Billy on TV, I always changed the channel. There was something in his voice that bugged me; I also didn’t care for his politics.

    But my editors wanted me to write several previews about the upcoming crusade, so I dug into the Inquirer library vaults and read up on the Rev. Graham’s last crusade in Philadelphia. Billy came to Philadelphia in 1961 at the request of mostly white, suburban pastors. But in 1992, it was mostly urban and minority preachers who invited him, because they said the aging evangelist was the best hope to unite the city.

    I had my doubts. In the old newspaper clips, Billy came across like a real right-winger. When he visited Philly in 1961, Billy attacked Communism as a religion and described Nikita Kruschev as “The Power of Evil.” He compared America to Rome just before the fall of the empire. “We as a nation are deteriorating,” he said. “I have never seen such gloom, such pessimism, as today. We are like the people of Noah’s Day – laughing, drinking and making merry. The flood is about to descend.”

    Billy advised mothers not to work, and he told women, “Your job is to make yourself attractive to your husband . . . Is it any wonder some men don’t want to come home at night?” When I asked Billy about those comments in a phone interview before the crusade, he said, “I’ve changed my mind in many ways’ on working moms. Some mothers have to work.”

    I asked Billy about other comments he made in 1961 in Philadelphia about the Rev. Martin Luther King, whom Billy had accompanied on a trip to Brazil. Billy charged that King was giving comfort to Hanoi by tying the civil rights movement to anti-Vietnam demonstrations. “I think Dr. King is making a mistake,” Billy said back in 1961. When I asked Billy about it, he said he didn’t remember. “It must have been a top-of-the-head remark.”

    I wasn’t impressed by Billy’s answers, but I was struck by how polite he was, and gracious in answering the questions from yet another left-wing member of the media. It was obvious that Billy was used to taking shots. 

    In another crusade preview story for the Inquirer, I interviewed Billy’s critics on the Christian left and right. It was like batting practice.  Father Michael Doyle, a Catholic priest who went to jail for destroying draft records during the Vietnam War, said he wouldn’t be in the stands at the Vet when Billy came to town.

    “It’s not my cup of tea,” Doyle said in his Irish brogue. Father Doyle was upset by Billy’s friendships with a succession of U.S. presidents. “He seemed to somehow align himself with whoever was in White House,” Father Doyle said. “You’ve got to take these boys on sometimes. . . Christianity is supposed to be a kind of thorn in the side of Caesar.”

    The Protestants were just as negative. Rev. Ted Loder criticized Billy for presenting the gospel as “really half the loaf.” Graham talks about personal salvation, but he doesn’t address “the issues of justice,” Loder said. Other Protestants charged that Billy had watered down his message over the years to include too many groups, especially the Catholics, who were co-sponsoring the upcoming Graham crusade. “He has paid a high price for being inclusive,” said the Rev. John Greer, who told me he was boycotting the crusade.

    But the crusade volunteers I interviewed had a different view. The Graham crusade was bringing together people from all races, they said, at a time when the nation was polarized, and preoccupied with the videotaped police beating of Rodney King.

    Wendell Harris was a laborer in the city streets department who spent his days riding a trash truck, and his nights singing for his savior. Harris was one of a thousand singers who packed Zion Baptist Church in North Philadelphia for choir rehearsal. The singers -- black, white and Latin – were from different religious denominations all over the city. But inside the church, the only distinctions that mattered, according to the overhead signs, were baritones, altos and sopranos.

    “I see the beginning of something,” Harris told me just before he took his seat to sing “Amazing Grace.” “The people are coming together,” Harris said. “And it won’t just die out when Billy Graham leaves. Some things are gonna go on.”

    The day after he met the press at Veterans Stadium, Billy made a few personal appearances, speaking at a prayer breakfast before 2,500 civic and business leaders. Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, in a boorish move, snubbed Billy by skipping the prayer breakfast. But when I asked him about it, Billy wasn’t going to make a fuss. Then Billy was chauffeured in a rented Buick to Esperanza Health Center in North Philadelphia. The famous evangelist was limping badly. He was so unsteady on his feet that his staff wouldn’t let him climb the steps by himself.

    Next, Billy and Judge Diaz paid a call on My Brother’s Keeper, a Christian home in Camden, N.J., for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. One of the men at the home was a burly ex-con with a dragon and panther tattooed on bulging arms. Judge Diaz recognized the guy with the tattoos and was horrified: he was the judge who put the guy away, sentencing him to five years in prison.

    “I never expected to see him here,”  the judge said, looking rattled. But all the ex-con did was smile and sing Christian hymns. Then he shook the judge’s hand, and said thanks for sending me to jail. That’s where he got saved. Hallelujah, the judge said, and the two men hugged.

    Billy told the men at My Brother’s Keeper that he didn’t have any prepared remarks, “I’ve come here to learn,” he said. He asked how they had been transformed from drug addicts and alcoholics to Bible-reading Christians. “We fast, we pray,” one man told Billy. Others said they read the Bible three times a day.

    The founder of My Brother’s Keeper, Miquel Torres, thanked Billy for being a good example of a Christian by leading a long, and scandal-free life. “It’s an honor for me to have a man of God so big in our midst,” Torres said, as he hugged the evangelist. But Billy seemed embarrassed by all the fuss.

    It rained the first night of the crusade. Umbrellas sprouted all over the Vet. Billy stood under a canopy in a makeshift pulpit behind second base. He talked about foreign genocide and domestic problems such as homelessness, drug abuse and divorce.

    “We’re broken,” he said. “We need fixing. . . You and I have a disease. It’s called sin. Satan wants you to believe your problems are too big to solve. . . but Christ loves you.”

    Billy quoted John 3:16, which he described as a “25-word Bible.” He said his mother taught him the verse back on his parents’ dairy farm in North Carolina, while he sat in a big tin tub and his mother scrubbed out his ears. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

    “Many of you here tonight are spiritually dead,” Billy said. “You can come to this meeting in the rain and go home a new person.” He invited people to come forward and publicly make a commitment to Jesus. Because He hung on a cross and died publicly for you, Billy said. As the choir sang “Just As I Am,” about 2,000 people started walking down the aisles on their way to the field to accept Billy’s invitation.

    Billy had to cut his opening night address short because of the weather. He woke up in his hotel room at 5:30 a.m., and he was fretful. I talked to him hours later on the phone and he complained that the sound system at the Vet was too loud. Then he talked about things that couldn’t be fixed.

    “Physically, I’m getting a little too slow and too weak to speak in these big stadiums,” Billy confessed. At age 73, he said he was thinking about retirement, but “I’m going to put it off as long as possible.” Billy said there would be no farewell tour; he would leave that to the rock stars. But Billy said he was thrilled by the crusade attendance, which would top 200,000, and feature the highest percentage of minority partners ever at a Graham crusade.

    I wasn’t scheduled to work every night of the crusade, but I found I couldn’t stay away. The voice that once repelled me now held me captive. I sat near Billy, typing on an electric typewriter while he preached. His cadence was so measured, so majestic, I could type along just about word for word. 

    Billy seemed curious about my rapt attention. One night before he went on, he glanced over at me, a look of concern on his face. “Are you getting anything out of this?” he said. Yes, I said. I didn’t tell him this, but I was finally able to see and appreciate the faithful way that Billy served his Savior.

    The crusade that began in a steady downpour ended under a scorching sun. Billy strode to the pulpit in shirtsleeves, without an introduction. He seemed to be getting stronger. “I feel like a Southern preacher,” he said. It was so hot on the Vet stadium’s artificial turf that it reminded Billy of an old joke. “I remember in Texas a dog was chasing a rabbit,” he said, pausing for effect. “And they were both walking.”

    Billy’s last message for Philadelphia was a plea for racial unity. “How long has it been since you’ve been to the home of a person of another race?,” he asked. “We need to come together, and we need to come together in Christ.” Billy was wistful as he surveyed the crowd of 56,000, the biggest yet. “I wish we could stay on at least two weeks,” he said. “I believe were seeing a touch of revival these days.”

    After Billy left town, his people disclosed that the famous evangelist was being treated for the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.  Local crusade leaders told me they saw plenty of signs that Billy was faltering. Billy had told them he was old and tired, and he had asked the preachers to pray for him. “This guy basically was putting out as much as he could,” Judge Diaz said. “He was giving us as much as he had.”

    The Inquirer gave my crusade stories great play, but when it was over, I found out why my editors were so hot on Billy. They wanted to please the boss. It turned out that Robert J. Hall, publisher of the Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, was on the front of Billy’s bandwagon.

    I discovered that Hall had given the crusade a gift: deeply discounted ad rates. I shouldn’t have been surprised. The first time I met the crusade leaders, they had just left a meeting in Bob Hall’s office. Their attitude was, get on board the train son, before it runs over you.

    I decided to see how far I could push freedom of the press. I wrote a story for the Inquirer about the business side of the crusade, and how crusade leaders had taken a shoestring media budget of $237,000 and turned it into a million-dollar publicity campaign. George R. Gunn Jr., a marketing executive who donated his time, explained that the crusade was bathed in prayer. The people who ran the crusade prayed before they met with newspaper publishers, hotel executives and Vet stadium officials, Gunn said. And they came away with big discounts.

    Crusade officials expected to get the Inquirer’s already discounted religious advertising rates. But Bob Hall gave them an even bigger bargain, the newspaper’s public service ad rates normally reserved for nonprofit charities such as The American Red Cross, the United Negro College Fund, and the United Jewish Appeal. So the Billy Graham crusade paid $8,213 for a full-page ad in the Sunday Inquirer that would have normally cost any other religious group in the city $13,144. Crusade officials took the Inky’s discounted rates to a dozen other area newspapers, and after some jawboning, “They all fell in line,” Gunn said proudly. “And it all started with The Philadelphia Inquirer.”

    I wanted to interview the publisher, but my editors said he wasn’t going to talk to me. So I was reduced to quoting a newspaper public relations official. He told me the Inky had dropped its rates because the Graham crusade was free, open to the public, and was deemed “a positive activity for the community at large.” I wondered if the Muslims would have gotten a similar deal.

    A copy of the story had to be driven over to Bob Hall’s suburban home before it ran. But it ran on July 8, 1992 on the front page of the Inquirer metro section, under the headline: “Discounts Boosted the Graham Crusade/Local Firms Cut Their Rates.”

    So my publisher was cutting deals behind closed doors with religious leaders. That made me uneasy, but at least my editors let me write about it. I also found out that during the crusade prayer meetings, the pastors had been praying for me regularly. And they believed it had paid off. “Those stories couldn’t have been any better if we wrote them ourselves,” Judge Diaz said.

    Billy was also happy, and as always, gracious.

    "My dear Ralph," he wrote in a letter on June 27, 1992, from his home in Montreat, N.C.  “Words cannot express my appreciation for the wonderful articles you wrote about the crusade. They were absolutely terrific. I think the committee and the churches that participated are deeply in your debt."

    "I hate to leave the city -- I have fallen in love with Philadelphia all over again!"

    "I believe there is hope for the future of this city, and I wish I could stay here much longer . . . I shall look back on this 1992 Crusade in Philadelphia with the warmest and fondest memories."

    "Most cordially and gratefully yours, Billy.”

    0 0

    By George Anastasia

    He was a wealthy and politically connected lawyer, an arrogant and self-assured mover and shaker in Wilmington and throughout the state of Delaware.

    She was a young, attractive appointment secretary to the governor.

    At one time they were lovers.

    She broke it off. He wanted her back.

    When she balked, he killed her.

    In many ways Tom Capano was more despicable than any mobster I have ever written about.

    The Summer Wind is the story of that tragic love affair and senseless murder.

    Now available as an ebook.

    0 0

    In the latest episode of Mob Talk Sitdown, veteran crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser do some forecasting on whether reputed Philadelphia mob boss "Skinny Joey" Merlino faces a rematch with the feds, in the aftermath of his mistrial in Manhattan.

    The odds are that he does, Anastasia says.

    That's because the numbers both reporters are hearing from the secret jury deliberations in the big East Coast mob trial in federal court strongly favor the government.

    So let's get ready to do it again. In the meantime, tune in to the latest episode of Mob Talk Sitdown.

    0 0

    Former ADA Mariana "You're Killing My Case" Sorensen
    By Ralph Cipriano

    Eight years ago, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen conducted the first interview with Danny Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe," right after a detective bailed the former  altar boy out of jail, so he could assume the staring role in a witch hunt about to be staged against the Catholic Church.

    But according to the D.A.'s office, Sorensen took no notes on Jan. 28, 2010, when she and Detective Drew Snyder interviewed Gallagher, along with his parents, at the D.A.'s office. According to what the D.A.'s office represented at two criminal trials, in front of at least three different judges, the only notes that existed from that initial interview with Gallagher were three pages of notes typed up by Detective Snyder.

    Eight years later, seven pages of typed notes by Sorensen from that initial interview with Gallagher have mysteriously reappeared, a copy of which was sent to BigTrial. Defense lawyers in the case say those notes should have been turned over at two criminal trials, where three priests and a former schoolteacher were sent to jail for the alleged repeated rapes of Danny Gallagher. It's the latest episode of prosecutorial misconduct in a case replete with it, a case that's headed for a final chapter later this year when a new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, plans to retry Msgr. William J. Lynn, the lead defendant, on a charge of endangering the welfare of a child.


    On July 29, 2011, with Judge Lillian Ransom presiding, five assistant district attorneys and five defense lawyers were gathered for a pretrial hearing in a case billed by then District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams as a "historic" prosecution of the Catholic Church.

    The subject was whether the D.A.'s office had turned over to defense lawyers all the evidence it had gathered for prosecution, as required by law. Suddenly, it was time for some tap-dancing.

    "This is where I need to talk to you about any statements at some earlier point that Mr. [Danny] Gallagher may have made as far as interviews at or with members of the D.A.'s office," Assistant District Attorney Sorensen told the judge. "I checked with [former Deputy District Attorney, and Sorensen's boss] Charlie Gallagher. There's nothing discoverable."

    "I know that occasionally a piece of paper gets turned the wrong way," the judge replied. "If you come across anything, turn that over."

    "Yes, Your Honor," Sorensen replied.

    "I'll accept your representation as it stands now," the judge said.

    "Thank you," Sorensen replied.

    Michael J. McGovern, a defense lawyer and former ADA himself representing Father Charles Engelhardt, then asked about "oral statements and oral interviews" conducted by the D.A.'s office, especially, "the substance of any oral interviews, notes or anything that related to interaction and discussion with [Danny Gallagher]."

    "Let me ask you this, Mr. McGovern," the judge interjected. "What I asked Ms. Sorensen to look for were written statements. Now if you are making reference to oral statements, they would not be recorded any place."

    "There may be notes," McGovern replied. "I'm asking for anything. I'm being told that there was an investigation of this major complaint for over a year, and there is nothing documented or recorded about it. I find that hard to believe."

    "That may be hard to believe, but that's the representation that we have at this point," the judge said.

    "Good enough," McGovern said.

    Later in the hearing, Judge Ransom turned to another prosecutor in the courtroom, Assistant District Attorney Evangelia Manos, and asked about discovery motions filed by the defense lawyers.

    "Ms. Manos, I want to talk to you about these," the judge said, referring to discovery motions  seeking "statements or interviews conducted by the district attorney's office. That [motion] is granted," the judge said.

    "Ms. Manos, the judge said, is it your position that as of today you have turned over everything that you have?"

    "Correct," Manos said.

    "As of today?" the judge asked.

    "Correct," Manos replied.

    "It's an ongoing discovery issue," the judge told the prosecutor. "If other statements come into your possession, whether they're new or old . . . "

    "Correct," Manos said.

    "They have to be turned over," the judge concluded.

    But during two criminal trials, and appeals in those cases, the D.A.'s office never turned over Sorensen's notes.

    Charles Gallagher, former chief of the Special Investigations Unit, of which Sorensen was a member, could not be reached for comment. Neither could McGovern.


    On Jan. 28, 2010, Detective Drew Snyder showed up at Graterford Prison to spring Danny Gallagher out of jail, where he was being held for a probation violation, and chauffeured him over to the D.A.'s office, where Gallagher's parents were waiting, along with ADA Sorensen.

    Danny Gallagher was about to tell a story how, back when he was a 10 and 11-year-old altar boy at St. Jerome's Church in Northeast Philadelphia, he had allegedly been passed around like a piñata among three different rapists.

    This was music to the D.A.'s office, under Rufus Seth Williams, which was looking to make headlines by being the first prosecutorial agency in the country to put a Catholic priest in jail, not for sexually abusing a child, but for covering it up.

    Gallagher at the time was 21, and so the usual protocol at the D.A.'s office in any sex abuse investigation would have been to interview Gallagher and his parents, James, a Philadelphia police department, and Sheila, a registered nurse, separately. But that's not what happened that day at the D.A.'s office.

    The usual protocol also called for the detective and/or Sorensen to ask Danny Gallagher questions, and on a "483" police form, write down those questions, as well as the answers. And when the interview was finished, the usual protocol called for having Danny Gallagher review the Q and A interview form, make corrections, and then sign it.

    But that's not what happened that day at the D.A.'s office. Instead, in a room without typewriters or computers, Snyder wrote down notes, and typed up three pages, which were turned over to defense lawyers.

    Sorensen, according to what the D.A.'s office has represented for the past eight years, at two different
    criminal trials, in front of at least three different judges, sat there like a potted plant, took no notes, and apparently asked no questions.

    But now we know that Sorensen typed up seven pages of notes, and asked plenty of questions. And in what she describes as a typed "summary," she refers to handwritten notes that are presumably still missing.

    What Snyder and Sorensen were dealing with was a completely non-credible witness who told an unbelievable story of abuse previously to two social workers from the archdiocese. In those stories, Gallagher claimed to have been anally raped for five hours by one priest, knocked unconscious and tied up with altar sashes by another priest, threatened with death if he talked, and strangled with a seatbelt by the schoolteacher who raped him.

    Then, when he told new versions of abuse to the police and the grand jury and the D.A.'s office, Gallagher dropped all those above details and invented an entirely new tale of abuse featuring oral sex and mutual masturbation, as well as being forced to perform strip-teases.

    So Snyder and Sorensen were trying to pin Gallagher down on a semi-credible tale. The less notes the better. And certainly a Q and A form, or multiple quotes from Gallagher, were only going to cause further credibility problems for a witness with no credibility.

    Keep in mind that the lead detective in this case, Joe Walsh, has previously come forward to say that he caught Danny Gallagher telling numerous lies. And when the detective confronted Gallagher about it, he admitted he had just "made stuff up" and "told them anything."

    And when Detective Walsh repeatedly informed Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen that Gallagher was not a credible witness, she replied that she still believed Gallagher's fairy tales, and, "You're killing my case."


    To: File
    From: Mariana Sorensen, Assistant District Attorney, SIU

    Re: Interview of Daniel Gallagher and parents 1/28/2010
    Supplement to Det. Snyder's notes

    "I sat in on Detective Andrew Snyder's Jan. 28, 2010, interview with Daniel Gallagher," she wrote. "The summary below is typed up from my notes and includes some things that might not have appeared in Det. Snyder's notes. [Detective Snyder and I were both of out of the room at various times when Danny and his parents said things.]"

    In her notes, Sorensen says that she talked to Gallagher's parents before he came into the room. And here, for the D.A.'s office, is where things start to get messy.

    "At age 14, Danny changed," Sorensen wrote, after questioning Gallagher's parents. "He got kicked out of High School. They [the parents] didn't know what had precipitated the change. They attributed his behavior to the death of his grandmother, and that they had allowed him to see her as she was dying [or her body after she died??]"

    These details, of course, did not fit the D.A.'s story line. On Nov. 12, 2010, Sheila Gallagher testified before the grand jury. ADA Manos was asking the questions while ADA Sorensen watched:

    Q. Did there come a time when you noticed a change in [Billy's] behavior?

    A. Yes. At age 14, as he entered high school, freshman year at high school, he wasn't the same child. He was very troubling to us.

    Q. Ok. Prior to that, what was his personality?

    A. He was basically a very pleasant, active, happy person prior to that and he was defined by some people as either Dennis the Menace or the All-American boy up to that point.

    Q. Ok. So he's leaving St. Jerome's and entering into high school?

    A. Uh-huh.

    But when Sorensen wrote the Jan. 21, 2011 grand jury report, on page 17, here's how she described what Billy Doe's mother told her about her son's personality change:

    Billy’s mother also told us of a dramatic change in her son’s personality that coincided with the abuse. His friends and their parents also noticed this personality change. Billy’s mother watched as her friendly, happy, sociable son turned into a lonely, sullen boy. He no longer played sports or socialized with his friends. He separated himself, and began to smoke marijuana at age 11. By the time Billy was in high school, he was abusing prescription painkillers, and eventually he graduated to heroin.

    When Thomas A. Bergstrom, Msgr. Lynn's lawyer read the first page of Sorensen's notes, he couldn't believe it.

    "She completely fabricates what the mother told her," Bergstrom said about ADA Sorennsen  "That's an absolute, outright lie. There's no wiggle room there. She [Sorensen] heard it twice from the mother."

    According to the mom, Danny Gallagher's personality change took place in high school, at age 14, and not in grammar school, at age 11. On top of that, Gallagher's parents blamed the death of Gallagher's grandmother for the personality change, and not sex abuse.

    Those notes should have been turned over to the defense, Bergstrom said.

    In Sorensen's notes, she describes four encounters Danny Gallagher allegedly had with Father Engelhardt, two of which resulted in sex abuse. In the grand jury report, there are only three encounters with Engelhardt, and only one resulting in sex abuse.

    But that's not what the grand jury report says.

    Sorensen quotes Danny Gallagher in her notes as saying things that were supposedly said by his attackers, but the quotes are missing from Snyder's notes, and they also do not appear in the grand jury report.

    "There are certain things that people do that God wants them to do," Father Engelhardt supposedly tells Gallagher. "But people don't really talk about it. But it's natural . . ."

    "You can do these acts without being a sinner [if you pray??]" Sorensen says Gallagher quoted the priest as saying. The priest also supposedly asked, "Do you want to practice?" as in sex. There are also specific details such as the priest allegedly unbuttoning the boy's shirt, and saying, "You are dismissed," that don't appear in Snyder's notes, or the grand jury report.

    This is the kind of material that defense lawyers would use to impeach a witness. But you can't ask any questions if the D.A. deliberately buries the evidence.

    In Sorensen version of the encounters with Engelhardt, "Danny said he he told the priest if he came near him again, he'd kill him." Snyder makes the same claim. But Gallagher told the social workers it was the priest who threatened to kill him; the grand jury report doesn't mention any death threat.

    In Sorensen's notes, Gallagher claims that Father Avery attacked him "in a backroom where supplies are kept." Snyder says the attack takes place in a "back storage room." But in the official grand jury report, Avery allegedly attacks Gallagher in the sacristy.

    In Sorensen's notes, Avery supposedly says during the attacks, "Look at me, son," and, "This is what God wanted." 

    "Danny says those words will never leave him," Sorensen writes. But Snyder doesn't mention this, and those quotes are left out of the grand jury report.

    In Sorensen's notes, schoolteacher Bernard Shero attacks Gallagher in an area of a park known as "Little City" and they pass a sign that says "Welcome to Winchester Park." But in the Snyder version  the rape occurs in a parking lot near Shawn and Holmhurst Street; in the grand jury report, the location is a park about a mile from Gallagher's house. In the Shero attacks, petroleum jelly and paper towels are used in the attack, details Snyder doesn't mention, details not in the grand jury report.

    Now this prosecutorial misconduct is the problem of a new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner. Will he go forward with the trial of Msgr. Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy? Lynn's conviction on one count of endangering the welfare of a child had twice been overturned by the state Superior Court.

    Ben Waxman, a spokesman for the D.A.'s office, did not respond to a request for comment.

    0 0

    By Ralph Cipriano

    On Jan. 28, 2010, Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen and Detective Drew Snyder met behind closed doors at the D.A.'s office with Danny Gallagher, to hear for the first time his tearful tales of abuse.

    Snyder had just bailed Gallagher out of Graterford Prison, where he was being held on a probation violation. Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe," the lying, scheming altar boy, was a third-rate con man with a rap sheet that included a half-dozen arrests for retail theft and drugs, including one bust for possession with intent to distribute 56 bags of heroin. He was just a junkie hustler trying to figure out a way to stay out of jail, and maybe score some easy cash.

    So Gallagher told his stories to the prosecutor and the detective. Eight years later, we know those stories were all lies. But eight years ago, the facts didn't matter because prosecutor Sorensen was an ideologue on a mission, out to get the Catholic Church at any cost. And Detective Snyder, who usually investigated insurance fraud, apparently was in over his head.

    Behind closed doors, the third-rate conman peddled an improbable story about a helpless altar boy being passed around by three brazen rapists, who were all acting in cahoots. And a couple of chumps named Sorensen and Snyder bought one lie after another, without doing any investigating. When they got finished, Sorensen wrote eleven of Danny Gallagher's outright lies, and a dozen of her own, into the 2011 grand jury report that indicted three priests and a school teacher for rape, as well as a monsignor, for endangering the welfare of children.

    As Sorensen noted in that grand jury report, "These are sordid, shocking acts." She could have been talking about the crimes she committed against truth.

    Eight years later, why does all of this still matter?

    Because the district attorney's office, under our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, is planning to retry Msgr. William J. Lynn later this year on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, namely Gallagher.

    Because one of the priests Gallagher sent to jail, the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, died there, after he had been smeared and libeled by a grand jury report as a child rapist, and then was falsely imprisoned for crimes that never happened. The priest died in jail, after spending his last hours handcuffed to a hospital bed, denied a life-saving heart operation, and still protesting his innocence. His life and death ought to matter.

    And finally, there's schoolteacher Bernard Shero, falsely accused of rape. A judge recently signed off on an unprecedented plea bargain that let Shero out of jail 11 1/2 years early because of prosecutorial misconduct. But Shero is still falsely labeled on Megan's List as a child rapist. It's a shame and a burden that he and and his family, who have already spent their life savings to get their son out of jail, more than $200,000, should no longer have to carry.

    In a just society, Sorensen would bear the shame. She would lose her law license, and that grand jury report she wrote would be retracted. The D.A.'s office would drop its planned retrial of Msgr. Lynn; Father Engelhardt's reputation would be restored, along with a posthumous apology. And Bernie Shero would no longer have go through life falsely labeled as a child rapist.

    In a just society, former Assistant District Attorney Sorensen would be indicted, and former D.A. Rufus Seth Williams would be dragged into court wearing his jumpsuit, so both of them could be prosecuted for filing a false instrument. That's the 2011 grand jury report, which we know now is a complete work of fiction. A work of fiction that's about to be destroyed today, along with the reputation of its author.

    But this is Philadelphia, where they can put a district attorney in jail for taking bribes, but the crimes he committed against Lady Justice go on and on. That's because we have a criminal justice system that likes to pretend it's infallible. And because in this city, we appear to have an endless supply of prosecutors who love the headlines they get when they're going after the Catholic Church. Even though the current crusade is based on lies.

    So attention Progressive Larry Krasner, this is what you just bought into. In seeking to retry Msgr. Lynn, for the sake of headlines, you just bought in its entirety that fraudulent 2011 grand jury report. You just bought Danny Gallagher as your fraudulent "victim" and star witness. And you just bought Mariana Sorensen as your sullied prosecutor, with all of her lies and supposedly non-existant notes that suddenly reappear after eight years. Notes that various members of the D.A.'s office at two criminal trials, and in front of three different judges, have repeatedly lied about by saying they didn't exist.

    Today, we're going to dive into Sorensen's long-lost notes and examine eleven Danny Gallagher lies in those notes that Sorensen subsequently wrote into that 2011 grand jury report without doing any investigating. These are lies that were subsequently exposed by the work of the D.A.'s own detectives, who blew up a false narrative. Then, of course, Sorensen wrote another lie into that grand jury report of her own making, and made up eleven more lies about the other alleged victim in the case, which we will cover as well.

    Many of these topics have been previously and repeatedly exposed on this blog, but thanks to Progressive Larry Krasner, everything old is new again. And all of this will be relevant if Progressive Larry Krasner decides to go through with any retrial of Msgr. Lynn.

    And the defense responds by putting the D.A.'s office on trial. By calling former Detective Joe Walsh and former ADA Mariana Sorensen as its star witnesses.

    Lie No. 1: Who Put Away The Wine After Mass.

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "Father [Charles] Engelhardt was the first one to abuse Danny"when he was 10 years old, Sorensen wrote. "Right after mass, the priest caught Danny drinking the wine he was supposed to pour down the drain (the altar boys always liked drinking the wine)."

    What Sorensen wrote in the Jan. 21, 2011 grand jury report:"While Billy was cleaning up in the church sacristy, Father Engelhardt caught him drinking some of the leftover wine. The priest did not scold the 10-year-old altar boy. Instead, he poured him more of the sacramental wine and began asking personal questions, such as whether he had a girlfriend" before the priest supposedly showed the boy pornography.

    The truth: Almost a year after the grand jury report came out, on Jan. 9, 2012, Detective Joe Walsh interviewed Danny Gallagher's older brother, James, who not only served as an altar boy at the same church, but also served as a church volunteer known as a sexton. In a 14-page signed statement, James Gallagher told Walsh that it was a couple of sextons who put away the sacramental wine after mass, and not the altar boys.

    "The sextons  would take care of the sacraments," the older brother told the detective. This was backed up in other interviews Walsh conducted with priests and nuns at St. Jerome's, the alleged site of the serial rape spree.

    At the Engelhardt-Shero trial, the jury sent a note to the judge, asking why James Gallagher wasn't called as a witness. The answer, according to defense lawyers in the case, was that the prosecutors misled them about James Gallagher's availability as a witness, to dodge a subpoena sent through the mail. The end result, according to the defense lawyers -- the prosecutors were able to hide an exculpatory witness during trial.

    But hey, at a retrial of Msgr. Lynn, why not recall the older brother, a lawyer, and put him on the spot by asking to explain again how he knew his younger brother was lying?

    Lie No. 2: The Myth Of "Sessions."

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes:"I hear you had your sessions with Father Engelhardt," Father Edward Avery supposedly told poor little innocent Danny, while the priest had a smile on his face, and supposedly added,"You know what I'm talking about. I'll be talking to you soon."

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report: She had Father Engelhardt use the secret code word for sex abuse first, "He [Engelhardt] also told Billy that it was time for him to become a man and that 'sessions' with the priest would soon begin. With that enigmatic statement, Father Engelhardt let Billy go to school. At the time, the fifth grader did not understand what the priest meant . . ."

    "A few months after the encounter with Father Englehardt, Billy was putting the bells away after choir practice when Father Edward Avery pulled him aside to say that he had heard about Father Engelhardt's sessions with Billy and that his sessions with the boy would soon begin. Billy pretended he did not know what Father Avery was talking about, but his stomach turned."

    The truth: The two priests in question -- Father Charles Engelhardt and former priest Edward V. Avery -- went off to their jail cells telling their lawyers they had never used that word before and had no idea where it came from.

    "He [Engelhardt] said that's a phrase that's been put in my mouth, it's been put in Avery's mouth," defense lawyer Michael J. McGovern remembered his client telling him. "That's a term I've never used,"the priest told his lawyer. Furthermore, "He [Engelhardt] has never heard a priest use that phrase,"McGovern said.

    Avery was just as mystified, according to his lawyer, Michael E. Wallace. "I was with him 16 months and I never heard him use the term," Wallace said about sessions. "He didn't know what the hell he [Danny Gallagher] was talking about."

    On Feb. 3, 2012, more than a year after the grand jury report, Detectives David Fisher and Drew Snyder interviewed Mark Besben, a counselor at SOAR, a drug and alcohol treatment facility, one of 23 such institutions that Billy had checked in and out of during his life as a drug addict. Besben told the detectives that he had begun seeing Danny Gallagher one on one sessions "instead of him being in group sessions."

    So "sessions" was a drug counselor's term that Danny Gallagher borrowed when he invented his tales of abuse.

    Lie No. 3: The Bell Choir.

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "On Friday, when Danny did bell choir, Avery approached Danny as he was helping with bell choir . . ."

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report: Billy "also participated in the 'maintenance department' of the school's bell choir, meaning he took the bells out of their cases before choir practice and put them away at the end."

    "A few months after the encounter with Father Englehardt, Billy was putting the bells away after choir practice when Father Edward Avery pulled him aside . . . "

    The truth: At the trial of Father Engelhardt and Bernard Shero, three teachers from St. Jerome's, including the church's longtime music director, testified that only eighth grade boys were allowed to be members of the bell choir maintenance crew. Not only were fifth grade boys barred from serving on the maintenance crew, the teachers told the jury, but so were sixth and seventh grade boys.

    It was the same story the three teachers had told Detective Joe Walsh, when he showed up at the school to investigate Danny Gallagher's cockamamie stories.

    The reason why Danny Gallagher wasn't a member of the bell choir maintenance crew as a fifth-grader was simple: crew members had to set up 30-pound tables, along with the heavy bells, as well as carry bell cases that each weighed more than 30 pounds. Only the eighth grade boys were big and strong enough to do the job, the teachers said. As a 10 year-old fifth grader, Danny certainly wasn't up to it. According to his medical records, 10 year old Danny Gallagher weighed 63 pounds.

    After the eighth grade boys in the maintenance crew set up the bell choir, they left the church, and did not hang around to put away the bells and tables, the teachers testified, another factual contradiction of Gallagher's tales. The choir would perform usually for an hour, and after they were done, choir members were responsible for putting away the bells. Not the maintenance crew, as Danny Gallagher claimed.

    Unlike former ADA Sorensen and Detective Snyder, Detective Joe Walsh did some investigating; he went out and talked to the teachers at St. Jerome's, and then he showed their witness statements to Danny Gallagher.

    "When confronted with this information, Gallagher could not provide an answer and remained quiet with his head down," Walsh wrote in a 12-page affidavit. "I told him that at the trial the judge would instruct him that he had to answer the lawyers' questions, that he just could not be able to not answer the questions."

    "Gallagher remained silent and did not provide an answer," Walsh wrote. "I concluded all this information was a lie."

    Lie No. 4: The books under Danny's bed.

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "When Danny left the room, they [his parents] told me that something they could never understand was starting to make sense. They said that Danny is a hoarder, and that he kept things hidden around his room. They said one thing he kept for years under his bed was a book on sexual abuse. They thought that maybe he had taken it from the library of Christian Academy, where he finished high school after being kicked out of [Archbishop] Ryan. They said that they had asked Danny about it once when he was in high school, but that he had said the book was for a report he was doing."

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report: "He [Danny] checked books out of the library about sexual abuse."

    "It was at an inpatient drug treatment facility that Billy first told someone about his abuse. Billy's mother testified that she probably should have suspected something before then, because she found two books about sexual abuse hidden under Billy's bed, when he was in high school. She asked him about the books at the time, but he covered up for his abusers by telling her that he had them for a school assignment."

    In fiction, this rhetorical device is known as the omniscient narrator. In non-fiction, it's what we call a lie.

    The truth: The two textbooks on sex abuse that Danny Gallagher kept under his bed were not taken out of the high school library by Gallagher. A detective did some brilliant detective work. He opened one of the books and discovered a library card inside that said the books had been borrowed from the Ogontz branch of the Philadelphia Free Library by Chanee Mahoney, another student at Christian Academy, the new high school that Gallagher had transferred to.

    On Jan. 17, 2012, Detective Fisher interviewed Mahoney, then 24, who told him she had checked the books out of the library, and either put them in her locker, which was unlocked, or left them out on a table. About Danny Gallagher, who Mahoney said was always getting into trouble, "could have gone in the locker . . . I definitely did not give them to him." The implication from Mahoney was that Danny Gallagher had stolen the books.

    Walsh subsequently confronted Danny Gallagher.

    "I then showed him [Gallagher] the interview with Chanee Mahoney where she stated that she took the books out of the library for herself and left the books on a table and school, and they were stolen," Walsh wrote. "She stated that she definitely did not get the books out of the library for Gallagher."

    "Gallagher then laughed and said yeah, he did take the books and he would use the books to crush pills on them," Walsh wrote. "When shown the books, he [Gallagher] pointed out small circle indentations in the cover of the book[s] showing where he crushed the pills."

    Lie No. 5: Switching Masses

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes:"After his encounters with [Father Edward] Avery, he [Danny] would avoid seeing masses with Avery (he could do this by trading with other altar boys).

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"From then on, Billy avoided serving Mass with Father Avery by trading assignments with other altar boys. But, like many children who are sexually abused, he was too frightened and filled with self-blame to report what had been done to him."

    Nice dramatic touches. What a novelist that Sorensen is!

    The truth: When Detective Walsh interviewed James Gallagher, Danny Gallagher's older brother, he asked him as a former altar boy what he would have had to do to switch a mass. The older brother said switching a Mass wasn't as easy as Danny Gallagher made it sound.

    "I would need a good reason for my parents -- If I wanted to switch with someone," James Gallagher told the detective. "Next I would have to get approval from Father Graham [the church pastor] and call the altar server you wanted to switch with."

    When Detective Walsh questioned Danny Gallagher, he asked how the former altar boy could have known which priest was serving Mass because the schedule changed daily. The schedule of priests serving Mass, the priests and nuns at St. Jerome's told the detective, was posted only inside the rectory, where Gallagher wouldn't have access to it. Only priests had access to the Mass schedule.

    When confronted by Walsh, Danny Gallagher had no answers.

    Lie No. 6: Danny Gallagher was alone in the sacristy with Father Engelhardt.

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "Right after Mass, the priest caught Danny drinking the wine . . . they were in the room where they get dressed. Engelhardt asked Danny to stay."

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report: "Billy was a 10-year-old altar boy in the fifth grade at St Jerome School in Philadelphia . . . While alone with him in the sacristy, Father Charles Engelhardt began to show Billy pornographic magazines. Eventually, the priest directed Billy to take off his clothes . . ."

    The truth: When Detective Walsh interviewed James Gallagher, Danny's older brother the lawyer, he
    said there were two altar boys assigned to every Mass. In addition, two sextons were around before and after the altar boys showed up and left, and that it was one of the sextons who had the key to the church. So it was the sexton who was the first one there at the church to open the doors, and the last one to leave, after he locked up. Also, as opposed to what Danny Gallagher claimed, that the priest locked all doors to the sacristy before he raped poor little Danny, older brother James told the detective that the doors of the sacristy were always kept open during the Mass,  including one propped open with a door. One of those open doors in the sacristy led to the only bathroom in the tiny church.

    When Detective Walsh talked to the priests and nuns at St. Jerome's they confirmed there were two sextons and usually a couple of other altar boys at each Mass; in addition, the pastor of the church, was usually hanging around the sacristy, so it was unlikely that the priest was ever alone with Danny, so he could supposedly rape him, as Danny Gallagher claimed. Also, the priests and nuns told the detective that he doors of the sacristy were kept open during Mass.

    When Detective Walsh confronted Gallagher, he had no answers.

    Lie No. 7: Danny Gallagher was alone with Father Avery after Mass.

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes:"The next encounter with Avery occurred in the summer before sixth grade--near Danny's birthday (July 14)(he was turning 11). Danny had served a funeral Mass with Father Avery and Father Graham. Father Graham went to the burial . . . Avery sent the other altar servers home, but asked Danny to stay and help clean up. Avery said it was time for their next session . . . and it would be quick and feel good. They went into the same room [a supply closet] as before. Danny said that Avery had on this smile like he couldn't wait for it . . . Avery proceeded to tell Danny to strip and dance. Avery started to strip too . . ."

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"Following an afternoon Mass . . . Billy was cleaning a chalice, Father Avery again directed the 10-year-old to strip for him. When Billy did as he was told, the priest fondled and fellated him . . ."

    The truth: In his affidavit, Walsh explained that he asked Gallagher how he could claim that he was sexually abused by Father Avery after a funeral Mass in July 1999, when he was supposedly left alone with the priest. But the church register that listed all funeral Masses, as well as all the priests who served, showed that Avery had served at no funeral Mass that year. Another point raised by Walsh: according to the register, there were usually two priests serving at every funeral Mass.

    In his affidavit, Walsh stated that he confronted Gallagher by showing him the church register.

    "After a very long pause Gallagher then said there were two priests there who said the Mass. And that the other priest went to the cemetery and Fr. Avery remained at the church," Walsh wrote. "I then asked [Gallagher] where was the sexton, [an older man who was a church volunteer] who had to clean the altar and put the vestments away and put everything else away after Mass."

    "When I questioned Gallagher about all these discrepancies, he just put his head down and did not answer me," Walsh wrote. "I asked him several times for an answer, but he would not answer me. I concluded Gallagher was not sexually abused by Fr. Avery."

    Lie No. 8: Danny Gallagher got really sick after he was raped by the schoolteacher.

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "A week or two later, he got really sick," Sorensen wrote about the aftermath of schoolteacher Bernard Shero raping him. "Missed school Lost 20 lbs. He had a bad cough, and at the end of each cough, he'd vomit. When he went back to school, Shero went back to the same demeanor, rubbing [Danny's] back, etc . . . Danny would walk away."

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"In the sixth grade, when Shero raped and orally sodomized him, he went through an extended period when he would gag and vomit for no reason. His mother took him to doctors of both conditions, but there was never a diagnosis . . ."

    The truth: In his closing statement to the jury in the Engelhardt-Shero trial, prosecutor Mark Cipollettti repeatedly said that after he was attacked by Shero, Danny Gallagher missed three and a half days of school. But when they pulled his report card for that marking period it showed zero absences. Also, Danny's medical records showed no drastic weight loss.

    Lie No. 9: Father Engelhardt raped Danny Gallagher.

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes:"Father Engelhardt was the first one to abuse Danny, and afterwards, the priest supposedly said, "That was a good session" and "You are dismissed."

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report: "While alone with him in the sacristy, Father Charles Engelhardt began to show Billy pornographic magazines. Eventually the priest directed the boy to take off his clothes . . . After ejaculating on Billy, Father Engelhardt told him he was 'dismissed.'"

    "After that, Billy was in effect passed around to Engelhardt's colleagues."

    The truth: Danny Gallagher claimed that after he was raped by Father Engelhardt, he sat outside on the steps at St. Jerome's for an hour in the dead of winter, and waited for the school to open. But Detective Walsh knew from Danny's older brother that the parents typically drove both altar boys to and from the church.

    "I asked [Danny] Gallagher to explain why his parents would permit him to walk approximately one mile from their house to the church carrying his cassock and school books at 6:00 a.m. in the dark, in December, when his older brother said he always got a ride to and from church when he served 6:15 a.m. Mass," Walsh wrote.

    "I asked him [Danny] how his parents would permit him to sit outside school for about one hour after Mass waiting for school to open," Walsh wrote. "I told Gallagher I didn't believe his parents would permit him to walk to church at 6:00 a.m. and then remain outside school for about one hour."

    "Gallagher didn't answer me," Walsh wrote. "He remained silent. I concluded he was lying that this occurred. I also concluded Gallagher was not sexually abused by Fr. Engelhardt."

    Lie No. 10: Father Avery raped Danny Gallagher.

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "Father Avery was the second adult to abuse Danny . . . Avery was 'quite forceful' and Danny thought he'd get in trouble if he didn't obey." Afterwards, the priest had Danny sit in his lap and he told the boy, "I'm proud of you," and, "You will be rewarded."

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"After that [the Engelhardt attack], Billy was in effect passed around to Engelhardt's colleagues. Father Edward Avery undressed with the boy, told him that God loved him, had him engage in oral intercourse . . . The session ended when Father Avery ejaculated on Billy and told him to clean up. The priest told Billy that it had been a good
    session, and they would have another again soon."

    The truth:"When I questioned Gallagher about all these discrepancies," Detective Walsh wrote in his affidavit, "he just put his head down and did not answer me," Walsh wrote. "I asked him several times for an answer, but he would not answer me. I concluded Gallagher was not sexually abused by Fr. Avery."

    Lie No. 11: Schoolteacher Shero raped Danny Gallagher.

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes: "Shero offered him a ride . . . Shero said: 'It's time for your sex education.' He starts to undo his own pants and tells Danny to undo his . . . After the sex is over, Shero's demeanor changes. He throws Danny's clothes at him and tells him he was very good. He then made Danny walk home. He says he'll see Danny in school." When Danny gets home, "he hopped in the shower, but felt like he couldn't get clean."

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"After that [Engelhardt attack], Billy was in effect passed around to Engelhardt's colleagues," she wrote. After Avery abused Billy, "Next was the turn of Bernard Shero, a teacher in the school," Sorensen wrote. "Shero offered Billy a ride home, but instead stopped at a park, told Billy they were 'going to have some fun,' took of the boy's clothes, orally and anally raped him, and then made him walk the rest of the way home."

    The truth: Detective Walsh asked Gallagher about his alleged sexual assault by Shero, and Gallagher's original claims. Gallagher had previously told two social workers for the archdiocese, as well as to one of his drug counselors, that Shero had allegedly punched him in the face before he attempted to anally rape him.

    Then, Gallagher claimed he was high on drugs and didn't remember what he told the social workers or the drug counselor.

    But Walsh knew from his investigation that none of that was true. In his affidavit, Walsh related how he explained to Gallagher that he had interviewed a trio of witnesses -- the drug counselor, one of the social workers, as well as Gallagher's own father -- and that the three witnesses "all said he [Gallagher] was not high on drugs," the detective wrote.

    "Gallagher didn't answer me," Walsh wrote. "He put his head down and refused to answer. I concluded that Gallagher was not sexually abused by Mr. Shero."

    Lie No. 12: What Danny Gallagher's mother said about when her son's personality changed.

    What Sorensen wrote in her notes: At age 14, Danny changed," Sorensen wrote, after questioning Gallagher's parents. "He got kicked out of High School. They [the parents] didn't know what had precipitated the change. They attributed his behavior to the death of his grandmother, and that they had allowed him to see her as she was dying [or her body after she died??]"

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report:"Billy’s mother also told us of a dramatic change in her son’s personality that coincided with the abuse. His friends and their parents also noticed this personality change. Billy’s mother watched as her friendly, happy, sociable son turned into a lonely, sullen boy. He no longer played sports or socialized with his friends. He separated himself, and began to smoke marijuana at age 11. By the time Billy was in high school, he was abusing prescription painkillers, and eventually he graduated to heroin."

    The truth: The personality change took place in high school, when he was 14. It did not happen back in grade school, at St. Jerome's, when Danny was 10 and 11 years old, and according to his mother's grand jury testimony, was either described as "either Dennis the Menace or the All-American boy." And according to Danny's parents, his personality change wasn't because of abuse, it was because Danny's grandmother died.

    Lies 13-23: The other alleged victim in the 2011 grand jury indictment, Mark Bukowski, then 14, was anally raped by Father James J. Brennan back in 1996.

    What Mark Bukowski told the grand jury: "I got into bed with him [Father Brennan] and . . . He began to hug me from behind . . . I felt his erect penis between my butt cheeks. My boxers were still on, however, I do not know if he had shorts on . . . I remember lastly thinking what the fuck happened tonight and crying myself to sleep with his penis still between my butt cheeks, saying to myself over and over again, why is this happening?"

    Ok, we can all agree if the witness is telling the truth, none of this should have ever happened. But what does Sorensen do with this grand jury testimony? She throws gas on the fire by turning what Father Brennan's lawyer termed a "savage spooning" into an anal rape. While both the attacker and the victim, according to Bukowski's trial testimony, had their t-shirts on, as well as their boxer shorts.

    What Sorensen wrote in the grand jury report: Father Brennan, who was now shirtless, insisted that Mark remove his gym shorts and climb into bed with him in only his underwear, which Mark did . . . When Father Brennan pulled Mark toward him, Mark felt Father Brennan’s erect penis enter his buttocks. Mark began to cry, and asked himself over and over again, “Why is this happening?” as Father Brennan anally raped him. Mark fell asleep that night with Father Brennan’s penis still in his buttocks."

    Ten more times in the grand jury report, Sorensen wrote about a rape of Bukowski in the grand jury report, including: "That same summer, Brennan arranged for his sleepover with Mark, and sodomized him . . .  As a result of the rape . . At the time of the rape . . . In addition, the rape . . . Three years after the rape . . . Archdiocese officials . . . needlessly exposed an already scarred victim to further trauma by making the most private details of his life available to the man who raped him."

    The truth: The grand jury report Sorensen wrote called for indicting Father Brennan and charging him with rape and involuntary deviant sexual intercourse with a minor. But when the trial began, the rape charge against Father Brennan was reduced to attempted rape, with no official explanation.

    The jury hung on both charges against Father Brennan, and a mistrial was declared. The D.A. did not want to retry the case. In 2016, Father Brennan pleaded no contest to a second-degree misdemeanor charge of simple assault, and was placed on two years probation.

    That grand jury report, as well as its lying author, is what Progressive Larry Krasner has just bought into. 

    At any retrial of Msgr. Lynn, his lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, will almost certainly call Mariana Sorensen as a witness.

    Bergstrom also plans to call as his star witness, Detective Joe Walsh, formerly of the D.A.'s office, and the lead detective on the Danny Gallagher case.

    Walsh will explain how he repeatedly told Sorensen that the evidence he was gathering proved that Danny Gallagher wasn't credible. And then Walsh willl testify that no matter what he said, Sorensen kept telling him that she still believed Danny, before finally saying, "You're killing my case."

    So Progressive Larry Krasner, when it comes to a retrial of Msgr. Lynn, the lies of Danny Gallagher and Mariana Sorensen might kill your case.

    0 0

    By Ralph Cipriano

    In Philadelphia, under our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, it's now legal to be a prostitute, providing you're just getting started.

    Under new policies announced on Feb. 15th by Krasner, his assistant D.A.s are being told "do not charge prostitution cases against sex workers where a person who has been arrested has two, one, or no prostitution convictions." In the case of a new hooker, ADAs are instructed to "withdraw all pending cases in these categories that would be declined for charging under this policy."

    But if a person has "three or more prostitution convictions," then an individual can be "charged with prostitution and immediately referred to DAWN Court," the new rules state. It's enough to make you wonder what Larry Krasner has against old hookers.

    Other offenses that ADAs are being told to decline charging include possession of marijuana "regardless of weight," and paraphernalia offenses "where the drug involved is marijuana."

    A former prosecutor who read the new policies described them as "agenda driven," adding, "He [Krasner] is very naive and obviously he's someone who has zero experience dealing with crime victims and the effects of crime."

    The new policies call for charging and disposing of retail theft cases as a summary offense unless the item stolen exceeds $500, or "where the defendant has a very long history of theft and retail theft convictions."

    Summary offenses are the most minor type of criminal offense in the state, such as loitering or disorderly conduct, and are usually punishable by a fine. Under the Krasner regime, ADAS are told, "You must seek supervisory approval to charge and dispose of retail theft cases at misdemeanor or felony levels."

    "Remember, that a summary conviction permits a sentence of 90 days incarceration, fines up to $250, and full restitution," the new policies state. "These penalties are sufficient to hold a retail theft accountable."

    Under the new policies, Krasner is telling his ADAs he wants them to divert more cases. Diversion programs, such as community service, restitution, or taking an educational course, are an alternative to normal sentencing that allows the offender to avoid charges and a criminal record.

    "All attorneys are directed to approach diversion and re-entry with greater flexibility and an eye toward achieving accountability and justice while avoiding convictions where appropriate," the new policies state.

    For example, "an otherwise law-abiding, first DUI (driving under the influence) defendant who has no driver's license (regardless of whether or not that defendant's immigration status interferes with obtaining a license under Pa. law) may apply for individualized consideration for diversion with a requirement of efforts to overcome license impediments where possible as an aspect of any diversionary program."

    Also, defendants charged with marijuana delivery or possession with intent to deliver may apply for diversion programs, the new policies state.

    When it comes to sentencing, Krasner wants his assistants to "state on the record the benefits and costs of the sentence you are recommending."

    "The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world," the new policies state. "It has increased 500% over a few decades. Pennsylvania and Philadelphia have been incarcerating at an even higher rate than comparable U.S. states and cities for decades -- a 700 percent increase over the same few decades in Pennsylvania; and Philadelphia in recent years, has been the most incarcerated of the 10 largest cities. Yet Pennsylvania and Philadelphia are not safer as a result, due to wasting resources in corrections rather than investing in other measures that reduce crime."

    Accordingly, ADAs under Krasner are actually required to state the costs of incarceration when they're recommending a sentence to a judge in a criminal case.

    "At sentencing, ADAs must state on the record their reasoning for requesting a particular sentence, and must state the unique benefits and cotes of the sentence," the new policies state. The document then lists the costs of incarceration, $42,000 a year for one person, which boils down to $3,500 per month or $115 a day. If you add up pensions and other benefits to correctional employees, the total cost for incarcerating one individual in Philadelphia is "close to $60,000 per year," the new policies state.

    That's comparable to a year's salary for a beginning teacher, police officer, firefighter, social worker, assistant district attorney or addiction counselor, the new policies state. So if an ADA is recommending that somebody go to jail for three years, the cost to the taxpayer is at least $126,000, the new policies state. If you're going to put somebody away for 25 years, it will cost $1,050,000. If an ADA is going to recommend a sentence such as 25 years, he or she must "explain why they believe that cost is justified."

    At a press conference today to announce his new policies, Krasner declared, "A dollar spent in incarceration should be worth it."

    In addition, Krasner is asking his ADAS to request shorter periods of probation. The new policies cite chronological studies that show that most violations of probation occur during the first 12 months.

    "Any remaining probation is simply baggage requiring unnecessary expenditure of funds for supervision," the new policies taste, especially since the county probation department is "overwhelmed with more than 44,000 supervisees, which makes supervising people who are likely to commit serious crimes more difficult."

    Krasner also instructs his ADAs that a positive drug test for marijuana is no longer a parole violation, as is possession of marijuana "without supervisory approval."

    So all you parollees, as far as Larry Krasner is concerned, smoke 'em if you got em.

    0 0

    Former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen [right]
    By Ralph Cipriano

    As Desi Arnaz used to say on the old I Love Lucy show, "Luuucyyy, you got some 'splainin to do!"

    Now reprising the role of Lucy: former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen.

    Court records show that defense lawyers in the "Billy Doe" sex abuse case had repeatedly sought Sorensen's long-lost notes from her initial interview eight years ago with Billy Doe, the lying, scheming altar boy whose real name is Danny Gallagher. In three different courtrooms, in front of three different judges, three different prosecutors from the D.A.'s office, including Sorensen, have repeatedly stated that those notes didn't exist. But then those notes mysteriously reappeared last month, and somebody was kind enough to drop a copy on

    The notes, a glaring example of prosecutorial misconduct, are relevant again. That's because the D.A.'s office, under the reform leadership of Progressive Larry Krasner, is proceeding with a planned retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy is accused of endangering the welfare of a child, Gallagher, by allegedly placing him in harm's way of a predator priest. But today we know that Gallagher previously admitted to Detective Joe Walsh, the lead detective on the case who filed a sworn affidavit, that Gallagher made up his stories of abuse about supposedly being raped by two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher.

    But the legal show grinds on. Lawyers on both sides of the Msgr. Lynn case are scheduled to appear in state Superior Court on Tuesday morning, to argue appeal motions filed over the planned retrial of the monsignor. The Superior Court has twice already overturned the Lynn verdict; the monsignor's lawyers on Tuesday will be going for the trifecta. At the hearing, expect Lynn's lawyers to show those appeal judges Sorensen's long-lost notes, and talk about a continuing pattern of prosecutorial misconduct in the case originally championed by former D.A. Rufus Seth Williams, now wearing a jumpsuit in a federal prison in Oklahoma.

    The trail of deception emanating from the D.A.'s office begins on July 29, 2011, when Judge Lillian Ransom was presiding over a pretrial hearing attended by five assistant district attorneys and five defense lawyers. The subject was whether the D.A.'s office had turned over to defense lawyers in the archdiocese sex abuse case all the evidence it had gathered for prosecution, as required by law.

    This was before the judge severed the case involving five defendants, setting up two trials: the first, with defendants Msgr. Lynn, Father James J. Brennan, and former priest Edward Avery; the second, with defendants Father Charles Engelhardt and former schoolteacher Bernard Shero.

    "This is where I need to talk to you about any statements at some earlier point that Mr. [Danny] Gallagher may have made as far as interviews at or with members of the D.A.'s office," Assistant District Attorney Sorensen told Judge Ransom. "I checked with [Deputy District Attorney] Charlie Gallagher. There's nothing discoverable."

    There was only one problem with Sorensen's alibi. When she said it, Charlie Gallagher was long gone from the D.A.'s office, and had absolutely nothing to do with the case.

    Two years earlier, on July 8, 2009, former District Attorney Charles Gallagher had retired from the Philadelphia D.A.'s office after 30 years, and taken a new job as the chief deputy district attorney of Lehigh County. So if Sorensen was telling the truth, why was she running anything past Charlie Gallagher?

    "I know that occasionally a piece of paper gets turned the wrong way," the judge replied to Sorensen. "If you come across anything, turn that over."

    "Yes, Your Honor," Sorensen replied.

    "I'll accept your representation as it stands now," the judge said.

    "Thank you," Sorensen replied.

    The deception continued on July 26, 2012, when Burton A. Rose, a lawyer for former schoolteacher Bernard Shero, filed a pretrial discovery motion in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, seeking notes taken by prosecutors when they first interviewed Danny Gallagher at the D.A.'s office on Jan. 28, 2010.

    In his motion, Rose noted that he had "repeatedly requested" that he be provided with "copies of any statements or interviews" taken by detectives or prosecutors "with regard to Danny Gallagher."

    On April 25, 2012, Rose wrote, Danny Gallagher testified at the trial of Msgr. Lynn. On the witness stand, Gallagher talked about his initial interview at the D.A.'s office, after Detective Drew Snyder bailed Gallagher out of jail. Gallagher testified that he "gave a statement" at the D.A.'s office to Detective Snyder, and Assistant District Attorneys Mariana Sorensen and Evangelia Manos. In his motion, Rose noted that "such a statement" had never been provided to the defense.

    In his motion, Rose included a letter, dated June 29, 2012, that he sent to the D.A.'s office, requesting any statements made by Gallagher. Then, Rose wrote in his motion, he followed his letter up by telephoning Assistant District Attorney Sorensen, "who stated that she was not aware of any such statement."

    On Sept. 14, 2012, the lawyers from both sides of the case were summoned to a pretrial hearing in front of Judge Ellen Ceisler, who would preside over the second archdiocese sex abuse trial, against Father Engelhardt and schoolteacher Shero.

    At the hearing, Mike McGovern, the lawyer who represented Engelhardt, who subsequently died in prison, was talking about witness statements in the case.

    "We never got a statement from this complaint," McGovern told the judge, referring to Gallagher. "And this historic grand jury, they never took a statement from him. They never took a statement from Dan Gallagher. I know you look shocked," McGovern told the judge. "We're shocked," McGovern said, referring to himself and Rose. "The Commonwealth said they never took a statement."

    "We don't need to go off on that now," Judge Ceisler said. "So you're saying at this point that [Rose's] motion asking for Brady material [is] nonexistent?" she said, referring to the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case of Brady v. Maryland, which established that prosecutors have a duty to turn over any evidence that might benefit a defendant.

    That's when Assistant District Attorney Pat Blessington spoke up.

    "Right," he said.

    On Nov. 15, 2012, lawyers were gathered in Judge Ceisler's courtroom for a pretrial hearing in the Engelhardt-Shero case. And the subject was whether the prosecution could call Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen as a witness at the Engelhardt-Shero trial.

    At the hearing, McGovern stated that he thought that was a bad idea, because Sorensen was such a partisan. When he stated his opinions to Judge Ceisler, however, McGovern had no idea how partisan Sorensen was. And that she might be partisan enough to hide seven pages of notes for eight years.

    "Mariana is very much invested in the case," McGovern told the judge. "She's very invested in the prosecution of this case and I think it comes through in her writing that she's very emotionally committed to the prosecution of the case, has been involved in the grand juries for abut a decade now. I don't see where it is probative and relevant and admissible for Ms. Sorensen to educate the jury in this case as to what the history was leading up to the arrest of these defendants."

    "So," the judge said, "your argument is that she [Sorensen] is not going to be a properly unbiased witness, that she'll be too inflammatory and possibly prejudicial, number one, and two, that it's not relevant?"

    McGovern decided to stay away from personal attacks.

    "Number one, that it's not relevant," McGovern said.

    In response, Assistant District Attorney Evangelia Manos argued that she still wanted to call Sorensen as a witness, because "she's an essential part of the case."

    Eight years later, it looks like former ADA Sorensen is more essential than ever, as Msgr. Lynn's lawyer plan to subpoena Sorensen as one of their own witnesses, so she can testify about her first-hand knowledge about prosecutorial misconduct in the case.

    0 0
  • 04/10/18--13:37: 'She Knew He Was Gonna Lie'
  • By Ralph Cipriano

    A lawyer for Msgr. William J. Lynn told a panel of state appeal court judges today that former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen knowingly put a witness on the stand that the lead detective in the case had repeatedly warned her was not truthful.

    "She knew he was gonna lie," Thomas A. Bergstrom said about Sorensen and her star witness, Danny Gallagher, the lying, scheming altar boy.

    Bergstrom accused the D.A.'s office of taking an "Alice in Wonderland" approach to the archdiocese sex abuse case. First, back in 2011, they indicted Msgr. Lynn, three priests, and a Catholic schoolteacher. Then, they asked Joe Walsh, their "hand-picked detective," to investigate the case, to see if Gallagher's allegations were true, Bergstrom told a panel of three state Superior Court judges. And what the detective discover? That their "one and only witness is lying," Bergstrom said, referring again to Gallagher.

    That's why Sorensen, according to Walsh, told the detective, "You're killing my case," Bergstrom said. Because she knew if Walsh was right, that Danny Gallagher was a liar, "my case is over," Bergstrom told the judges.

    Judge Eugene Strassburger interrupted to ask if Sorensen's alleged statement "could simply be hyperbole."

    No way, Bergstrom said. "She doesn't care," Bergstrom said about Sorensen. "She knows he's lying," he said about Gallagher, but she "put him on the stand" any way. "The Commonwealth had every reason to believe he's lying."

    In rebuttal, Assistant District Attorney Anthony Pomerantz replied that it didn't matter what Walsh's opinion was of Danny Gallagher; nor did it matter what Sorensen believed. The only thing that mattered for Lynn to be guilty of endangering the welfare of a child, Pomerantz said, was for him to "knowingly violate" his duty to protect children from a known abusive priest. The monsignor did that, Pomerantz said, by putting a known abusive priest back in active ministry, where he could potentially harm more kids.

    If Danny Gallagher is a liar, Pomerantz asked the judges, then why did that abusive former priest, Edward Avery, plead guilty back in 2012 to conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse?

    Pomerantz didn't mention Avery's explanation under oath -- that the former priest, then 69, was looking at a prison sentence of 13 1/2 to 27 years in jail, and was facing a hostile judge, M. Teresa Sarmina, when he pleaded guilty to two crimes he testified that he didn't commit.

    "I didn't want to die in prison," the former priest testified, explaining why he took a sweetheart plea bargain on the eve of the Lynn trial, and got only 2 1/2 to 5 years in jail. He wound up serving the full sentence and was released from prison last year.

    At his trial in 2012, Msgr. Lynn was convicted on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, and sentenced to 3 to 6 years in jail. He served 33 months of his minimum 36 month sentence before his conviction was overturned for a second time by the state Superior Court in 2016. The court had previously overturned Lynn's conviction back in 2013. This is the third time the Lynn case has gone up on appeal to the Superior Court.

    Today's hearing, under chandeliers and sconces in an ornate courtroom, began with Assistant District Attorney Pomerantz arguing that the panel of judges should overrule Judge Gwendolyn Bright's decision to limit the D.A.'s office to introducing as supplemental evidence, just three additional cases of sex abuse in the archdiocese.

    Since the beginning of the case, the strategy of the D.A.'s office has been to put the Catholic Church on trial. They did that at the original Lynn trial by introducing as evidence 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse dating back to the 1940s, before Lynn was born. The supplemental cases were introduced as evidence to show a pattern in the archdiocese of covering up sex abuse.

    But the state Superior Court overturned Lynn's conviction in 2016, by arguing that the prejudicial effect of the 21 supplemental cases, which took up 25 days of the 32-day trial, far outweighed their value as evidence.

    In response, the D.A.'s office proposed introducing only nine supplemental cases at a retrial of the monsignor, but the trial judge, Judge Bright, approved only three cases. The D.A.'s office then appealed to the state Superior Court, asking the judges to overturn Judge Bright's decision because it allegedly was an abuse of her discretion.

    Superior Court Judge Anne Lazarus asked Assistant District Attorney Pomerantz how it could be an abuse of the trial judge's discretion if Judge Bright was willing to allow the prosecution to present three supplemental cases of sex abuse to show a pattern of cover ups in the archdiocese.

    Pomerantz's response was that the D.A.'s office had carefully reviewed all 21 supplemental cases, and narrowed the list down to only nine cases that Lynn was involved in. The D.A.'s argument was that Lynn was attempting to protect the church from scandal and abuser priests from jail "at the expense of those children," and that's why he should be convicted again of endangering the welfare of a child.

    In response to the D.A.'s appeal over the supplemental cases, Bergstrom also appealed a ruling of Judge Bright, by arguing that the retrial of Msgr. Lynn should be thrown out on the grounds of double jeopardy, because of intentional prosecutorial misconduct.

    Judge Bright found there had been prosecutorial misconduct at the original Lynn trial. The misconduct, the judge said, was that the prosecution never told the defense that Detective Walsh had questioned Danny Gallagher before the Lynn trial about several key discrepancies in his allegations of abuse. And that Gallagher had responded by either saying nothing, claiming he was high on drugs, or telling a new story.

    But Judge Bright stopped short of throwing the retrial out on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct, by ruling that the misconduct wasn't intentional. In his appeal, Bergstrom countered that the misconduct was intentional.

    Judging by the tepid response both appeal motions got from the panel of judges, however, a knowledgable observer predicted that this time around, the state Superior Court will deny both the defense motion, as well as the prosecution motion. And send the case back to Judge Bright for a retrial of Msgr. Lynn.

    At today's hearing, Bergstrom did not mention the recent discovery of Assistant District Attorney Sorensen's long lost notes from her original 2010 interview with Danny Gallagher, after he had just been bailed out of jail by the D.A.'s office, so he could testify against the church.

    Sorensen and other prosecutors in the case had previously told three different judges that those notes didn't exist. Then, after a gap of eight years, those notes suddenly reappeared last month.

    Bergstrom couldn't bring up those notes because they weren't previously introduced on the record in Judge Bright's courtroom. But when the case goes back to Judge Bright for a retrial, he's free to make plenty of noise about those notes.