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Articles on this Page
- 08/21/17--11:53: _Penn State Confiden...
- 08/22/17--13:50: _Lawyer For Former D...
- 08/22/17--15:54: _Penn State Confiden...
- 08/29/17--18:47: _Big Ron Previte Dea...
- 09/05/17--07:37: _Franco Harris: Grah...
- 09/11/17--09:30: _CNN Smears Joe Pate...
- 09/13/17--06:57: _Inky Readers Hit Pa...
- 09/18/17--07:42: _State Attorney Gene...
- 09/19/17--03:48: _Wine Club Crushes It
- 09/29/17--09:30: _Boy In The Shower S...
- 10/08/17--08:11: _Cosby's Accuser Has...
- 10/10/17--15:18: _Penn State Confiden...
- 10/17/17--18:30: _Pro-Prosecution Ink...
- 10/18/17--03:43: _Sandusky's Lawyers ...
- 10/18/17--06:47: _Spanier's Lawyers S...
- 10/24/17--15:13: _For Rufus Seth Will...
- 11/02/17--08:27: _Requiem For An Old-...
- 11/13/17--11:59: _ Memory Issues In t...
- 11/25/17--12:49: _The Return of Vincenzo
- 11/28/17--07:08: _Another Sandusky-Re...
- 11/30/17--11:35: _Newsweek's "Sins Of...
- 12/04/17--04:52: _I Did Not Deserve "...
- 12/10/17--07:14: _On Tour With The Or...
- 12/11/17--11:01: _What John Gotti Did...
- 12/12/17--12:26: _Progressive New D.A...
- 08/21/17--11:53: Penn State Confidential: What Did Mike McQueary Hear and See?
- 08/22/17--15:54: Penn State Confidential: What Mike McQueary Heard And Saw, Part 2
- 08/29/17--18:47: Big Ron Previte Dead At 73
- 09/11/17--09:30: CNN Smears Joe Paterno With Old News From Tainted Source
- 09/13/17--06:57: Inky Readers Hit Paywall
- 09/18/17--07:42: State Attorney General's Office Tries To Keep Sandusky Probe Secret
- 09/19/17--03:48: Wine Club Crushes It
- 09/29/17--09:30: Boy In The Shower Says He Can't Remember 34 Times
- 10/08/17--08:11: Cosby's Accuser Has A Secret
- 10/10/17--15:18: Penn State Confidential: Prosecutor Told McQueary To Clam Up
- 10/17/17--18:30: Pro-Prosecution Inky Denounces Payday Loan Defendants During Trial
- 10/18/17--03:43: Sandusky's Lawyers Charge A.G.'s Office With Brady Violations
- 10/18/17--06:47: Spanier's Lawyers Say Statute Had Run On Crime He Was Convicted Of
- 10/24/17--15:13: For Rufus Seth Williams, No Last Chance To Say Goodbye To Mom
- 11/02/17--08:27: Requiem For An Old-School Pol
- 11/13/17--11:59: Memory Issues In the Jerry Sandusky Case
- 11/25/17--12:49: The Return of Vincenzo
- 11/28/17--07:08: Another Sandusky-Related Victim Of The Abuse Myth
- 11/30/17--11:35: Newsweek's "Sins Of The Fathers"
- 12/04/17--04:52: I Did Not Deserve "The Scarlet Letter"
- 12/10/17--07:14: On Tour With The Original Gangster
- 12/11/17--11:01: What John Gotti Did To The Mob
- 12/12/17--12:26: Progressive New D.A. Larry Krasner Off On Wrong Foot
By Mark Pendergrast
by Ralph Cipriano
Pierre Gomez had a front row seat when it came to watching former District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams in action.
In 2010, Detective Gomez went to work on the personal detail for the new D.A. "As a member of the detail, Detective Gomez provided protection for Williams, which included traveling with Williams to events and other personal meetings," Robert J. McNelly, a lawyer for Gomez, wrote in a letter to Interim D.A. Kelley Hodge that threatens a federal lawsuit. "During this tenure, Detective Gomez gleaned much information regarding Williams' activities."
Gomez was on duty at the Union League the day the D.A. had lunch with Joseph Sullivan, then a chief inspector assigned to Homeland Security, and Mohammad Ali, the Jordanian-born businessman who pleaded guilty to bribing Williams.
Gomez was there the day Williams picked up a red 1997 Jaguar XK8 convertible from Michael Weiss, the owner of a Philadelphia gay bar who testified under a grant of immunity about bribing Williams. So when the FBI came to Gomez in 2015, when the detective was assigned to the Drug Enforcement Agency, and asked him to cooperate with the federal investigation of his former boss. Gomez was granted immunity and cooperated with the federal investigation for two years. His reward, his lawyer says, was to be retaliated against by his bosses.
Cameron Kline, a spokesman for the D.A.'s office, did not respond to a request for comment. Gomez also declined comment.
"As a result of his cooperation, Detective Gomez suffered systematic retaliation from Philadelphia County," his lawyer wrote. "The county targeted Detective Gomez and acted to discourage him from assisting investigators. Specifically, it sought to prevent Detective Gomez from testifying at a possible future trial" as well as before the federal grand jury investigating D.A. Williams.
"The County's retaliatory conduct violates Detective Gomez's rights protected by federal law and the United States Constitution, McNelly wrote.
Gomez was first approached by FBI agents on May 14, 2015, outside the DEA office where he worked.
"The agents indicated to Detective Gomez that they wished to speak with him regarding the corruption investigation of Seth Williams," wrote McNelly, of McNelly & Goldstein LLC of Hatfield. "Detective Gomez voluntarily accompanied the agents to an adjacent building, which housed offices for the Pennsylvania Attorney General. The agents were cognizant of the need for discretion, and the likely retribution that Detective Gomez would receive if the County learned of their conversation."
"Immediately on the flowing day, Lt. Kenyatta Lee summoned Detective Gomez into his office," McNelly wrote. "Lt. Lee is the direct supervisor of Detective Gomez at the County Detective's Unit."
During an "exceedingly rare" meeting with Lee, the lieutenant "inquired about the content of Detective Gomez's conversation with the FBI investigators," McNelly wrote. "Lt. Lee probed to ascertain what specific questions the FBI asked. Detective Gomez answered Lt. Lee's questions respectfully and truthfully, but provided as few details as possible."
"A few short weeks later, Detective Gomez received a phone call from an individual purporting to be an investigator hired by the attorneys representing Williams," McNelly wrote. "The individual stated that the county 'could make it good' for Detective Gomez, if he exhibited loyalty towards Williams in the investigation. Gomez ddi not respond and ended the phone call."
That wasn't the only way Detective Gomez found himself on the outs with his former teammates at county detectives.
"Notably, the County paid for the legal representation of other possible witnesses," McNelly wrote. "After these changes, however, the County never offered to compensate Detective Gomez for the attorney he was forced to retain."
In the letter, attorney McNelly claims that Lt. Lee and other county employees "began retaliating against Detective Gomez" by messing with his work assignment Lt. Lee "attempted to reassign Gomez from a DEA task force," McNelly wrote, but the transfer order got quashed.
Undaunted, Lt. Lee filed "an improper reprimand memo against Detective Gomez, citing specific violations of Police Department rules and regulations," McNelly wrote. Even though Lt. Lee and Detective Gomez were not members of the police department but employed by the county detectives unit, "which sets forth its own rules and regulations," the lawyer wrote.
The reprimand letter was a "baseless and a transparent attempt to tarnish the stellar employment record of Detective Gomez," McNelly wrote. "Whether the memo continues to blemish Detective Gomez's record -- and his ability to advance or seek other employment -- remains unknown."
The county further retaliated against Detective Gomez by preventing him from working overtime in the wiretap room, duties that usually earned the detective overtime worth $30,000 annually,
In addition, McNelly wrote, the D.A.'s office gave "Detective Gomez's name and personal information to a local newspaper reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer, "even though he [Gomez] was presently on a covert assignment with the DEA."
On March 11, 2016, reporter Barbara Laker requested information regarding the members of Seth Williams' protection detail, "including the individuals' names, salaries and overtime numbers." The information was provided by Elizabeth "B. J." Graham-Rubin, an assistant district attorney, McNelly wrote. "The County had specific knowledge of Detective Gomez's cover assignment, and decided to release his name and information regardless."
"The county's decision to release the name of a detective on covert assignment is an egregious example of retaliation," McNelly wrote. "For the purpose of retribution, the County intentionally risked the life and safety of Detective Gomez."
The demand letter, which seeks $200,000, said the county further retaliated against Detective Gomez by assigning him to an unmarked police car that was "experiencing a recall in regard to its seatbelts."
"Detective Gomez reported the recall to his superiors," McNelly wrote. "He received no response . . . After three weeks of riding in a vehicle with defective seatbelts, Detective Gomez decided to comply with the recall at his own expense."
McNelly's letter implies that Philadelphia County officials loyal to Seth Williams were circling the wagons in an effort to protect him from a federal investigation that eventually brought him down.
Claude Thomas, chief of county detectives, "circulated an email that directed all personnel in the county detective's unit not to respond to third-parties inquiries regarding District Attorney Williams or the ensuing investigation," McNelly wrote.
"Detective Gomez received a Grand Jury subpoena, and promptly notified Thomas," McNelly wrote. "Detective Gomez asked whether Thomas's directive applied to federal inquiries, including the subpoena. Thomas responded that his directive applied to all inquiries -- even to Grand Jury subpoenas."
"Philadelphia County subjected Detective Gomez to persistent harassment and retaliation due to his exercise of protected First Amendment rights," McNelly wrote. "The county retaliated against Detective Gomez for his decision to cooperate with the FBI and offer truthful testimony."
"Notwithstanding the foregoing, Detective Gomez is willing to reach an amicable resolution with Philadelphia County," the lawyer wrote. He asked for compensation for injuries "in the amount of $200,000."
The county has until Aug. 24th to respond. "If you refuse to consider Detective Gomez's very reasonable proposal, he will have no alternative to take immediate action," McNelly wrote, in the form of a "federal retaliation claim against Philadelphia County."
While Detective Gomez was cooperating with the feds in the investigation of D.A. Williams, his superior at the district attorney's office was Kathleen Martin, who was hired in 2015 as chief of staff and integrity officer.
Williams promoted Martin to first assistant district attorney. She took over as acting district attorney when Williams voluntarily suspended his law license, but stayed on as D.A. so he could still collect his $175,000 a year salary.
Lat week, days after Interim D.A. Kelley Hodge received Detective Gomez's demand letter, Kathleen Martin was demoted to deputy district attorney in charge of administration and technology.
Cameron Kline, spokesperson for the D.A.'s office, did not respond to a question about whether the demand letter from Gomez and the demotion of Martin were related in any way.
It is clear that Paterno, Curley, Schultz, and Spanier took the incident for what it apparently was – McQueary hearing slapping sounds that he misinterpreted as being sexual.
The showers are running and, and he is right up against his back with his front. The boy’s hands are up on the wall.” He saw “very slow, slow, subtle movement.” After he slammed his locker, McQueary said, they separated and faced him. Surprisingly, he said that Sandusky did not have an erection. When Amendola failed to object, Judge Cleland inserted himself, obviously fearful of future appeal or post-conviction relief issues. “Wait, wait, wait, just a second,” he warned McGettigan. “I think you have to be very careful for you not to lead this witness.”
A few minutes later, the judge asked both lawyers to approach the bench. “I don’t know why you’re not getting objections to this grossly leading [questioning],” he told McGettigan, who said, “I’m just trying to get through it fast.”
McQueary recounted how he had met with Joe Paterno.
“I made sure he knew it was sexual and that it was wrong, [but] I did not go into gross detail.” Later, he said, he met with Tim Curley, the Penn State athletic director, and Gary Schultz, a university vice president.
In an email quoted during his testimony, McQueary had written, “I had discussions with the police and with the official at the university in charge of the police.” He now explained that by this he meant just one person, since Schultz oversaw the university police department. With only an hour’s warning, Joe Amendola asked Karl Rominger to conduct the cross-examination of McQueary and handed him the file. Rominger did the best he could, asking McQueary why in 2010 he had told the police that he’d looked into the showers twice but had now added a third viewing, and he questioned him about his misremembering that the shower incident occurred in 2002 rather than 2001.
Rominger also noted that McQueary had told the grand jury, “I was nervous and flustered, so I just didn’t do anything to stop it.” Now he was saying that he slammed the locker, which allegedly ended the incident. Without meaning to, McQueary indirectly helped Sandusky’s case by explaining the demanding work schedule of a Penn State football coach, typically reporting to work Sunday through Tuesday at 7 a.m. and working until 10 p.m. or later. Then, Wednesday through Friday, it was 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. If Sandusky kept the same hours, it was difficult to see when he would have managed to molest all those boys, at least during preseason training and football season.
recognize the overweight, bearded, sullen 29-year-old, who clearly didn’t want to be there.
At the end of November 2016, Judge Thomas Gavin ruled that that amount wasn’t enough, so he added another $5 million. In doing so, he cited prosecutor Jonelle Eshbach’s testimony during the trial that McQueary had been a terrific grand jury witness: “He was rock solid in his testimony as to what he had seen,” Eshbach said. “He was very articulate. His memory was excellent.”
Big Ron Previte, the mobster turned government witness whose cooperation brought down three crime bosses and changed the face of the Philadelphia mob, died last week after suffering a heart
attack, according to family members and friends.
A former Philadelphia police officer who once said he learned the most about how to be criminal while working as a cop, Previte as a larger-than-life figure who never tried to sugarcoat who he was or what he had done.
Six feet tall and sometimes weighing 300 pounds, Previte [pronounced previ-i-tee] was an imposing and intimidating figure, but he was also a shrewd and astute criminal entrepreneur. He described himself as a "general practitioner of crime" and admitted his involvement with almost every mob gambit . . . with the exception of murder.
To read the rest of the story, click here.
By Ralph Cipriano
Franco Harris thinks that former Penn State University President Graham Spanier got screwed.
Harris, 67, the former Penn State star and NFL Hall of Famer with the Pittsburgh Steelers, went on John Ziegler's "World According To Zig" podcast on Sunday to describe the trial and subsequent jail sentence of Spanier as a ridiculous farce.
"They had this secret witness who was guarded by 1,000 police take the stand," Harris said, laughing. "It was a farce, it was staged."
Harris was referring to the Dauphin County trial of Spanier last March, when Judge John A. Boccabella had a phalanx of extra sheriff's deputies patrolling the courtroom while the judge introduced 28-year-old Michal Kajak to the jury as "John Doe."
Kajak, who testified as a sex abuse victim of Jerry Sandusky's, proceeded to sob on cue. Only the jury was never told about the sex abuse that Kajak allegedly suffered. It wasn't rape; Kajak was allegedly soaped up in the shower by Sandusky, for which Kajak collected in a civil settlement $8 million.
And when Kajak got through his direct testimony, with the help of some Kleenex, the cowed defense lawyers in the case were too intimidated to ask Kajak a single question. Even though Kajak, a shaky witness at best, had given four different dates for the alleged shower incident, varying from 1998 to 2001, when he was between 10 and 14 years old.
In the Kangaroo Court of Judge Boccabella, this was all the evidence that was needed to send a man up the river. Spanier was promptly convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, and the judge sentenced him to 4 to 12 months in jail.
"That was so ridiculous," Harris said about the jail sentence. "So once again we see the political system at work here with the Attorney General's office. That was a farce."
About the prosecution's case against Spanier, Harris said, "They showed nothing, they had nothing. It was all an emotional appeal to the jury."
"This judge was just ridiculous," Harris said. And then there was the Attorney General's office.
Short of an acquittal on all the charges, "This is the second best verdict we could have had," Harris said, because the jury found Spanier innocent of a second endangerment charge, as well as a charge of conspiracy.
"And the Attorney General's office tried to make it . . . like they had this big victory," Harris said.
"And of course the media lapped it up," Ziegler chimed in. "The media is so dumb. Anything that substantiates their fairy tale narrative they embrace."
Ziegler asked Harris, a longtime defender of former Coach Joe Paterno, if he believed that Sandusky was innocent.
"There will always be questions about that because a lot of them [the alleged victims] weren't even vetted," Harris said. "Penn State ended up playing all the money [$93 million to 32 alleged victims] and Penn State didn't even take the time to vet anyone."
In Harris's view, his former coach got tarred and feathered.
Harris said he would continue the fight to clear Paterno's name.
"We have to get the story out, we want to educate Penn Staters," he said. He expects "this HBO movie" starring Al Pacino to stir things up again.
"There are things that we're gonna have to do to really get our side of the story out," Harris said. "That's going to be very important, to get our side of the story out."
"We will continuing fighting and never stop."
On the podcast, Harris said he was reading an advance copy of Mark Pendergrast's book on the Penn State sex scandal, "The Most Hated Man In America; Jerry Sandusky and The Rush To Judgment," which has been excerpted several times on Big Trial.
"It definitely makes you question some things," Harris said about Pendergrast's book. "It definitely isn't over."
Elsewhere, on the podcast, Harris talked bout the upcoming football season. He pronounced Penn State's Saquon Barkley "the real deal." And revealed how he changed his diet 17 years ago to include blueberries and fish oil in hopes of healing his brain from all the concussions he's had on the gridiron.
Harris also panned former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick for his social activism.
"When he puts that suit on it is not just about him and his position," Harris said. "The team has to come first."
The entire podcast can be heard here.
By Ralph Cipriano
On Saturday, when the Nittany Lions were defeating the Pittsburgh Panthers 33-14 to go 2-0 on a promising young football season, Sara Ganim of CNN posted a blast from Penn State's nightmarish past -- a big scoop that supposedly further tarred and feathered the ghost of the late Joe Paterno.
What startling new evidence did Ganim have to attack what was left of Paterno's credibility? A one-page police report about a 16-year-old incident from a tainted source in an investigation marred by blatant police and prosecutorial misconduct. And what did Ganim and CNN do with that police report? She claimed it "bolsters evidence" that Paterno "knew years before Jerry Sandusky's arrest that his longtime assistant might be abusing children."
You had to dig deep into Ganim's intellectually dishonest story to discover what her main new allegation was -- that Paterno supposedly knew about a 1998 incident where Sandusky was accused of hugging a naked 10-year-old boy in the shower. An incident investigated by the Centre County District Attorney's Office at the time and determined to be unfounded.
An incident that happened three years before the infamous 2001 Mike McQueary shower incident, where McQueary, according to the state attorney general's indictment, supposedly saw Sandusky anally raping another 10-year-old boy in the showers. Even though McQueary later admitted what the attorney general wrote wasn't true. And the alleged victim of the most infamous act of child abuse in the history of America never came forward to testify. Despite tons of publicity and a potential multimillion dollar payout.
With the so-called Penn State sex abuse scandal, it's getting harder and harder to separate reality from myth. All Ganim has done with her latest effort is to throw a fresh coat of mud on the situation and emphasize the need for independent scrutiny of the tainted investigation of Sandusky, as well as Ganim's central role in it.
The problems with Ganim
Problem No. 1 with Ganim's new story is that the scoop the reporter was peddling directly contradicted one of her previous scoops. Where she claimed that Paterno, who's no longer around to defend himself, knew about a previous allegation of sex abuse regarding Sandusky dating back to 1971.
She also writes in her latest story about the 1998 shower incident as though it's some kind of mystery, even though Ganim, who did not respond to a request for comment, was intimately familiar with all the details.
Problem No. 2 with Ganim's latest scoop -- the reporter has an ethical conflict that is undisputed.
At Sandusky's trial, the prosecutors from the state attorney general's office admitted in a legal stipulation that Ganim, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on Sandusky while working for The Patriot News of Harrisburg, had meddled in a supposedly secret grand jury investigation. An investigation that was in danger of expiring if the prosecutors didn't find more alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky.
So how did Ganim meddle? By acting as an agent for the state attorney general's office when she contacted the mother of the naked 10-year old who was allegedly hugged in the shower back in 1998.
Ganim's ethical conflict was laid out in a legal brief filed by Sandusky's lawyers in their arguments for a new trial. In the brief, Sandusky's lawyers wrote that Ganim "approached the mother of accuser 6," Deb McCord, according to the testimony of State Police Corporal Joseph Leiter, and gave the mother the name and phone number for an investigator assigned to the attorney general's office.
Ganim, according to the brief, left this message for McCord:
"Debra, it's Sara from the Patriot. I just want to pass along this agent's name and number. The Attorney General has expressed interest in helping you."
Let's get to Ganim's new evidence and lay out why the source of it is tainted, as well as the product of an investigation marked by blatant police and prosecutorial misconduct.
The one page Pennsylvania state police report from 2011, supposedly obtained from a source, Ganim wrote, is "described here for the first time." The report "lays out an account from whistleblower Mike McQueary," who was telling Paterno about the infamous shower incident from 2001 starring a naked Jerry Sandusky and a 10-year-old boy.
"Paterno allegedly told McQueary in 2001 that the claim against Sandusky 'was the second complaint of this nature he had received," according to the police report, which was written after Sandusky's arrest 10 years later," Ganim wrote.
"Paterno, upon hearing the news, sat back in his chair with a dejected look on his face," the report states, adding that McQueary "said Paterno's eyes appeared to well up with tears."
Nice dramatic touches for a police report. Next, Ganim writes:
"Then he [Paterno] made the comment to McQueary this was the second complaint of this nature he had received about Sandusky," the report states, citing McQueary's recollection."
The police report also noted, Ganim wrote, that Paterno allegedly told McQueary that Dottie Sandusky, Jerry's wife, had told Sue Paterno, Joe's wife, that "Jerry doesn't like girls."
A tainted witness
Let's start with McQueary, who, according to Ganim, is now writing a book about his exploits as the alleged Penn State whistleblower.
As former NCIS Special Agent John Snedden has said, McQueary is not a credible witness. As a special agent for the Federal Investigative Service, Snedden investigated former Penn State President Graham Spanier in 2012, to determine whether his top secret security clearance should be renewed by the federal government. Snedden wrote a recently declassified 110-page report that concluded there was no sex crime at Penn State and no coverup.
Snedden didn't believe McQueary was credible because he told five different versions of what he saw and heard in the Penn State showers, featuring slapping sounds and fleeting glimpses of naked people in the shower. The day he witnessed the shower event, McQueary was repeatedly questioned by his father, a doctor, and a friend of his father's, another doctor, about what happened. McQueary could not definitely say whether he had witnessed a sexual attack or horseplay. And that's why neither of the two doctors, both mandated reporters, ever told the police.
McQueary was also questioned by two Penn State administrators, who came to the same conclusion as the two doctors, that McQueary wasn't sure what he saw or heard in the showers. So they didn't report it to the police either.
Atainted investigation and grand jury report
That didn't stop the attorney general's office from running with their exaggerated version of McQueary's story.
The 2011 grand jury report was built around a lie. It claimed that McQueary witnessed a 10-yar-old boy in the showers being subjected to “anal intercourse” by a “naked Jerry Sandusky.” McQueary supposedly told Joe Paterno about it, and two other university officials, but Penn State covered it up, the grand jury report says.
But McQueary himself was shocked when he read the grand jury report. He emailed the prosecutors, saying they had “twisted” his words. ”I cannot say 1,000 percent sure that it was sodomy,” McQueary wrote. “I did not see insertion.”
The investigation conducted by the state police in the Sandusky case also included stone-cold proof of police misconduct on tape. On April 21, 2011, the state police made the mistake of leaving a tape recorder on, and the machine caught the police deliberately lying to one alleged victim to get him to tell the story they wanted him to tell.
State Troopers Joseph Leiter and Scott Rossman were interviewing alleged victim Brett Houtz at the police barracks, with Houtz’s attorney Benjamin Andreozzi present. While Houtz took a cigarette break the two troopers continued talking with Houtz’s lawyer. They assumed the tape-recorder was turned off but it wasn't.
The trooper told Houtz about nine adults that they had already talked to and said, “It is amazing. If this was a book, you would have been repeating word for word pretty much what a lot of people have already told us.”
That's what you call coaching a witness, to manufacture testimony.
The condemnation of Ganim's most recent story came from many quarters.
"Well CNN published a lie from Sara Ganim," tweeted Scott Paterno, a lawyer who defended his father during the Sandusky scandal. "Sue [Paterno] never said that Dottie [Sandusky] told her anything and this was categorically denied before publication."
"To be clear Sara Ganim and @CNN is using triple hearsay to get clicks and it's false. And enough is enough."
"To my knowledge we were not contacted by Sara Ganim for a response," Dottie Sandusky wrote. "If we had been, I would have told her that this is old news which actually exonerates both Joe and Jerry. The incident in question is the 1998 episode which, according to [Former Penn State Athletic Director] Tim Curley's testimony, Joe knew was fully investigated by the D.A. and determined to be unfounded. I never said that Jerry doesn't like girls and the factual record, including at trial, makes that extremely obvious to anyone not invested in this entire fairy tale."
"On the brighter side, I'm glad to see that Sara and the rest of the news media has seemingly dropped the absurd notion that Joe Paterno was told in the 1970s about abuse that never happened by accusers who made up stories for Penn State money," Dottie Sandusky wrote.
"The whole thing is absurd," Snedden said about the supposedly new police report from 2011. "It was written ten years after the fact," Snedden said about the 2001 shower incident supposedly witnessed by McQueary, and described to the state police in 2011.
"Police reports are supposed to be contemporaneous," Snedden said. About the 2011 police report concerning the 2001 shower incident, Snedden asked, "How is that contemporaneous?"
The CNN story, Snedden said, is the product of either "trying to either cover your ass or bolster your position. It appears to me that she [Ganim] doesn't even go through the motions of asking if it's accurate."
"This one [Ganim's new story] is the biggest piece of crap yet," Ziegler said. "Ganim is pretending that we don't know" about the 1998 shower incident, Ziegler said. "If she was at the [Sandusky] trial she would know that what she's reporting is ancient news. It's got cobwebs on it."
Ziegler went at Ganim's work from another angle -- logic.
"This is actually exculpatory," Ziegler said about Ganim's latest scoop.
When McQueary is telling Joe about the 1998 shower incident, which is almost identical to the 2001 shower incident, Ziegler said, "Joe is immediately flashing back to 1998."
"That tells us that McQueary never said anything [to Paterno] about a sexual assault because Joe already knows that 1998 [the first alleged shower incident] is a nothing burger," Ziegler said. "Had McQueary actually said something about a sexual assault Joe would have never connected it to 1998, because the [Centre County] D.A. had already cleared Sandusky."
Ziegler said that Ganim's story goes beyond any claims of the prosecutors. Former Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina, the lead prosecutor in the Sandusky case, went on 60 Minutes Sports in 2013 and declared that there was no evidence that Joe Paterno had ever participated in a cover up.
"I did not find that evidence," Fina said on 60 Minutes Sports.
"It does reek of deception," Ziegler said about Ganim's latest effort to prop up the official Penn State story line. "They have to be worried about something," Ziegler said, who devoted a podcast to it. "This story makes me think that even she doubts it."
Mark Pendergrast, an author who has written a book about Jerry Sandusky, The Most Hated Man In America; Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment, said that McQueary "revised his memory a decade after the Feb. 2001 shower incident, in which he heard slapping sounds but did not see Sandusky and a boy in the shower -- he only fleetingly saw a boy, in the mirror."
McQueary's "memory of his meeting with Paterno in 2001was also subject to revisions and this appears to be more evidence of that," Pendergrast wrote in an email. "In other words, this is Sara Ganim once more raising a non-issue based on Mike McQueary's revised memory, and referring as well to highly questionable anonymous allegations dating back to the 1970s."
The 1970s alleged victims
In May 2016, Ganim reported on CNN that a man who claimed to have been sexually abused by Sandusky at a rest stop after he was picked up as a hitchhiker. The alleged victim also claimed that he was personally ordered by Joe Paterno to keep quiet about the abuse.
"Stop it right now" or "we'll call the authorities," the alleged victim claimed that Paterno had told him on the phone.
The alleged victim told Ganim that he had no doubt it was Paterno on the other end of the line ordering him to keep quiet.
"There was no question in my mind who Joe was," the alleged victim told Ganim. "I've heard that voice a million times. It was Joe Paterno."
Sure it was. Penn State's gullible trustees decided, OK, we'll just take your word for it. So the alleged victim got paid.
Now we come to the most ridiculous part of our story, namely the man referred to in Ganim's most recent opus as "John Doe 150," an alleged sex abuse victim of Jerry Sandusky's dating back to June 1976.
Another ancient claim of abuse that Joe allegedly knew about.
John Doe 150 was represented in his civil claim by Slade McLaughlin and Paul Lauricella, two Philadelphia lawyers who represented Danny Gallagher AKA "Billy Doe" in his bogus claim against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where Gallagher collected $5 million.
Gallagher is the lying, scheming altar boy who claimed he was the victim of three separate rapes by a couple of priests and a Catholic school teacher. But then the lead investigator in the case, retired detective Joe Walsh, came forward to say that he caught Gallagher telling one lie after another, and that Gallagher even admitted he "made up stuff." Which led the detective to conclude that all of Gallagher's allegations were false.
In the John Doe 150 case, the alleged victim, who is 56 years old, claimed that back in 1976, when he was 15, he attended a Penn State football summer camp for a week. According to alleged victim, he was taking a shower when 10 other kids when Jerry Sandusky, who had just introduced himself, stopped by. And then, after the other boys left the shower, Sandusky "came up to me and began soaping my back and shoulders."
And then "he stuck his finger in my ass," the alleged victim claimed. Sandusky allegedly apologized, saying he didn't realize he was getting that close.
What allegedly happened next is even more unbelievable.
John Doe 150 claims, at 15 years old, that he had the guts to talk about the incident to an anonymous Penn State football player, who told him that Sandusky "does this with all of his, I guess, boys."
According to John Doe 150, at 15, he then had the moxie to hunt down Joe Paterno at his Penn State office, and corner him in the hallway. John Doe 150 supposedly told Paterno what just happened with Sandusky. And Paterno supposedly replied, "I don't want to hear about any of that stuff, I have a football season to worry about."
Have you ever heard a more absurd story? A 15-year-old kid molested on the first day he ever met Jerry Sandusky? No grooming? No box of candy or six-pack first?
A 15-year-old kid who has just been victimized who has the nerve to track down and confront a legendary football coach?
Who would believe this crap? Oh that's right, the same lawyers who bought Billy Doe's lies and made $5 million off of it.
Before he collected his settlement, John Doe 150 was never questioned by any lawyers or any psychiatrists representing Penn State. The Penn State Board of Trustees just paid John Doe 150 as one of 32 such claimants who collected a total of $93 million.
What an irresponsible expenditure of money. Even the lawyers who were ripping off Penn State had to know it was bogus. Actually, one of them did, and said so.
In 2016, Paul Boni, one of John Doe 150's lawyers, told reporter John Ziegler that he knew of no "direct irrefutable evidence" that Paterno knew about any prior abuse by Sandusky dating back to the 1970s.
"I think you need more than anecdotal evidence or speculative evidence" to attack Paterno, Boni told Ziegler.
So Sara Ganim keeps serving up more fairy tales and asking us to believe them. Only the stories just keep getting crazier.
At 10:30 a.m. on the Tuesday after the Labor Day weekend, visitors to philly.com ran into a big surprise -- a brand new paywall.
If you were one of those readers who had already read 10 stories on philly.com that month, you were out of luck. No more freebies. Your only option, besides hopping on another computer, or accessing the site from another web browser, was to sign up for "unlimited digital access for 99 cents for four weeks, and $2.99 per week thereafter."
By the next day, Sept. 6th, philly.com, the formerly free website of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, recorded 67,804 "meter stops," meaning 67,804 readers had just ran into the paywall. "Of those who 'hit the meter,' we had 1,736 new digital subscribers sign up," wrote Fred Groser, chief revenue officer, in a Sept. 6th email to all employees of Philadelphia Media Network.
"As you all know, we launched our new digital subscription model yesterday, Groser wrote. "This initiative, by far one of our most important undertakings in years, has been in the works for many months."
PMN's strategy was to offer print subscribers "a very attractive offer for a digital subscription, giving them full access to our digital content on multiple devices for each household. We sent letters to about 180,000 subscribers announcing this with an option for them to decline the offer."
"Of the 180,000 mailed, we have received 22,379 opt-outs. We planned on having 36,000 opt-outs," Groser wrote. "This leaves us 157,403 paid print + digital subscribers, of which 1,256 have activated their subscriptions. This is promising news and good results, though very early."
So if you take the 1,736 new digital subscribers who just signed up after hitting the pay wall and combine that with the 1,256 print subscribers who just signed up for digital access, "We currently have 2,992 digital activated subscribers, which is a good conversion rate of readers who have engaged the meter," Groser wrote.
Groser advised all PMN employees when talking to readers to "please remind them that they will receive fewer ads and an improved experience with our site should they subscribe. Subscribers will not be served high-impact ads such as wallpapers and interstitials," Groser wrote, referring to web-page ads displaying age-restricted materials.
So the grand paywall experiment progresses, as philly.com seeks to find out whether local readers are willing to pay for news. But Groser won't be around to see how it all turns out.
He resigned two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, web page traffic at philly.com was rumored to be down 30 percent by the end of the first week that the paywall was up.
So, as a free service to all those former visitors to philly.com who are now restricted from the site, here's what you missed.
Today, the Inquirer's PC posse led the webpage with three different stories about the city's ongoing statue wars.
First, Tirdad Derakshani, an Inquirer staff writer, breathlessly reported the big news that the city's PC Mural Arts program had just installed right behind the racist Frank Rizzo statue a new statue of a 12-foot high steel Afro Pick topped by a black fist raised in a black power salute.
Take that, Big Bambino.
Next, Solomon Jones, an Inquirer columnist, visited the two statues and found the Afro-Pick statue to be empowering. But not empowering enough the columnist said, to combat the continuing racism posed by the Rizzo statue. So, for the umpteenth time, the courageous Inquirer columnist called for the removal of the racist Rizzo statue.
This was a major development, and in shocking contrast to Jones's stance.
Finally, Weillington reported that the racist Frank Rizzo statue deliberately snubbed the black columnist by turning its back on her. [I kid you not.]
So the racism continues unabated outside the Municipal Services Building.
It will cost you only 99 cents a month for four weeks [and $2.99 a week thereafter] to tune into further adventures of the Inky's PC posse, as they confront more dangerous racist statues.
By Ralph Cipriano
What do you do when you screw up royally?
If you're the state Attorney General's office, you try to keep a top secret lid on everything, even if its years after they put Jerry Sandusky in jail.
That's what our A.G.'s office is up to. On June 28th, Jennifer C. Selber, executive deputy attorney general, wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney D. Brian Simpson in Harrisburg, about all of the files the A.G. turned over to the feds three years ago from the state's grand jury investigation of Sandusky.
Selber's concern was that the U.S. Attorney's office not turn any of the A.G.'s records in response to a long-running FOI battle being waged by Ryan Bagwell, a former newspaper reporter and candidate for Penn State trustee. When Bagwell couldn't get any records out of the state, he filed FOI requests with the U.S. Attorney's office in 2014, and so far has recouped some 1,000 pages of documents.
The A.G.'s office wants to make sure no further documents are released.
"Initially, it must be understood that the investigation of Sandusky PSU and TSM [The Second Mile] was done through two Statewide Investigating Grand Juries," Selber wrote. "As such, all of the materials gathered by the OAG and provided to your Office were subject to grand jury secrecy."
The state attorney general turned over their Sandusky records when they asked the U.S. Attorney's office to investigate Penn State and The Second Mile, Sandusky's defunct charity, for "financial irregularities and possible Clery Act violations" stemming from the state's grand jury probe of Sandusky. The Clery Act mandates transparency when it comes to reporting crime on campus.
The feds closed the investigation in 2014, without any tangible results.
Under Pennsylvania law, the state is allowed to turn over records from an investigation "only if the agency is investigating a crime within its jurisdiction and the person to whom disclosure is made are sworn to grand jury secrecy," Selber wrote. She asked that the records turned over to the feds under an FOI request remain secret and "confidentiality be maintained."
Bagwell says he's determined to see this battle through to the end, "no matter how long it takes."
"There's virtually no public access to records from police investigations in Pennsylvania," Bagel said. "They're not used to the idea of having their investigations scrutinized."
Bagel says if the records are eventually released, they "might reveal some interesting things that suggest the original grand jury presentment should have never been written in the way it was."
As previously reported on this blog, the grand jury report on Sandusky was built around an event that didn't happen, an anal rape of a naked 10-year-old boy by Sandusky, supposedly witnessed by Mike McQueary in the Penn State showers back in 2001.
However, four men who interviewed McQueary said he didn't witness a sexual attack. Even McQueary agrees he never saw an anal rape, as he stated in writing in an email to the state attorney general's office.
A federal official, former Special Agent John Snedden, also investigated the alleged shower rape as part of an investigation of former Penn State President Graham Spanier. Snedden concluded in a recently declassified 110-page report done in 2012 that McQueary was not a credible witness, no sex crime was committed at Penn State, and hence, no cover up, since there was nothing to cover up.
During the state attorney general's investigation, a couple of state troopers were caught on a tape recorder lying to an alleged victim of sex abuse about hearing the same story from several other alleged victims, even though it wasn't true.
"Obviously the AG is doing everything it can to make sure that people don't have the opportunity to review the facts versus the presentment," Snedden said.
|PhillyVoice/Tracie Van Auken|
On Saturday morning, 28 men gathered outside a South Jersey warehouse to crush 25,000 pounds of grapes.
Stacked in the yard on grass and gravel were 680 36-pound boxes of grapes arranged in 17 stacks. The men were using hammers and crowbars to pry the lids off the boxes, so they could dump the grapes into two automatic crusher-destemmers.
As the machines roared, Guy Ferranti strolled through the crowd looking like a football coach on the sidelines carrying his laminated play cards.
Ferranti is the CEO of the Vino Degli Amici wine club, which loosely translated means "wine among friends."
The rest of the story can be read here.
By Ralph Cipriano
Allan Myers, the boy in the Penn State showers that Mike McQueary allegedly saw being raped by Jerry Sandusky, sure has a lousy memory.
Myers couldn't remember when a picture of him posing with Sandusky had been taken, even though it was at Myers' own wedding.
Myers couldn't remember what he told a couple of state troopers when they interviewed him in 2011, and Myers said that Sandusky had never abused him.
Myers couldn't remember what he told a private investigator, namely that Mike McQueary was full of crap, and that nothing sexual had happened in that shower.
A 48-page transcript from a Nov. 4, 2016 hearing where Myers was called as a witness as part of Sandusky's bid for a new trial was released for the first time earlier this week, in response to a request from a reporter for a major mainstream media news outlet. The transcript provides some insight into what is clearly a screwed-up case that the prosecutors and the news media have completely botched.
And they blew it because they showed no skepticism about witnesses like Allan Myers, who, from what he had to say in this transcript, clearly isn't credible.
In the transcript, Myers, who was on the witness stand for less than an hour before Centre County Senior Judge John M. Cleland, said he couldn't recall or didn't remember 34 times.
Either Myers was very forgetful, or he was clearly lying.
Before Myers was brought in as a witness, Sandusky was sworn in and the judge explained to him that since nobody knew what Myers was going to say, his testimony "could be harmful to your case."
But Sandusky had his mind made up.
"It is my decision to have Allan Myers testify," Sandusky told the judge.
Myers, a former Marine, testified that he got to know Sandusky through the former assistant Penn State coach's Second Mile charity.
"Did you think of Mr. Sandusky as a father figure," Al Lindsay, Sandusky's lawyer, asked.
"Yes, I did," Myers said.
Myers was shown a picture of himself and Sandusky at Myers's wedding. Lindsay asked if Myers remembered when that picture was taken.
"That I do not remember," Myers said.
Lindsay showed Myers a photo of a football camp when Myers served as a coach, and posed for a picture with the boys he was coaching, along with Sandusky. Lindsay asked Myers how old he was in the photo.
"I don't remember," Myers said. "I don't even know what year that was."
"Well, were you an adult," Lindsay asked. "Do you know that?"
"I wasn't an adult," Myers said.
"Can you give us any estimate of your age," the lawyer asked.
"No," Myers said.
Myers recalled that he lived in Sandusky's home "right after I graduated high school to attend Penn State."
"And I left there because he [Sandusky] was controlling and I left," Myers said. "And that was the end that I ever lived with him."
Too controlling, Myers said, but he said nothing about being abused.
Lindsay asked Myers if he remembered being interviewed on Sept. 20, 2011, by state Trooper James Ellis and Corporal Joseph A. Letter.
"I recall being interviewed," Myers said.
Lindsay gave Myers a copy of the police report and asked if it reflected what he told the state troopers.
"Yes," Myers said, before snapping at the lawyer, "Please don't raise your voice at me."
Lindsay asked if Myers remembered telling the troopers that he and Sandusky at worked out at the Lasch Building.
"I don't remember that interview," Myer said.
Lindsay asked Myers if he recalled telling the troopers "nothing inappropriate occurred" in the shower, and that at "no time were you made to feel uncomfortable."
"I don't recall," Myers replied.
Lindsay asked Myers if he remembered telling the troopers that after workouts with Sandusky, he and Jerry would return to Sandusky's home and shower in separate facilities?
"I said it," Myers said, "But I don't remember it."
Lindsay asked Myers if he remembered an interview he gave to an investigator named Curtis Everhart who worked at the time for Joseph Amendola, Sandusky's trial lawyer.
Myers remembered the interview.
Lindsay asked if he remembered telling the investigator, "I am alleged Victim No. 2."
"I'm sure I did," Myers said, before adding, "I don't remember everything."
Lindsay asked Myers if he recalled telling the investigator that on the day McQueary thought he saw an anal rape in the showers, Myers said "Jerry and I were slapping towels at each other trying to sting each other."
Myers was a month short of his 14th birthday in 2001 when the infamous shower incident occurred. Even though the official grand jury report says that Mike McQueary heard "slapping sounds" and witnessed Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy in the shower.
"I don't recall everything I told Mr. Everhart," Myers said.
Did Myers recall telling the investigator that he used to slap the walls and slide on the shower floor when he was taking a shower with Jerry?
"I can't recall everything I said in that interview back then," Myers said.
Lindsay read out loud a quote from a report that stated what Myers had supposedly told Everhart:
"The grand jury report says Coach McQueary said he observed Jerry and I engaged in sexual activity. That is not the truth and McQueary is not telling the truth. Nothing occurred that night in the shower."
"Do you recall telling him that," Lindsay asked the witness.
"Like I said, I can't recall everything I said back then," Myers said. "But if it's in there, I said it then, yes."
Lindsay asked Myers if he told the investigator that "I never saw McQueary look into the shower that night. I am sure."
"That's what I said back then," Myers said. "Once again, I can't recall what I said then."
Lindsay read Myers more quotes from the interview with the investigator.
In the quotes, Myers:
-- denied having sex with Sandusky;
-- repeated that "McQueary did not tell the truth;"
-- repeated that "I am alleged Victim No. 2 on the grand jury report;"
-- Again claimed that Sandusky "never sexually assaulted me."
"That's what I said then," Myers said. "And once again, I can't recall everything I said then."
Lindsay asked Myers if he told the truth when he spoke to the investigator.
"Yes," he said.
Myers had once been Jerry Sandusky's biggest defender. He had even written a letter to the editor of a local newspaper stating what a great guy Jerry was.
Then Myers hired attorney Andrew Shubin, who represented eight victims in the Penn State sex abuse scandal.
Myers became Shubin's ninth victim. He flipped on Jerry, claimed he'd been abused, and collected a reported $3 million.
When asked how much he received from his settlement, Myers said," Im not allowed to answer that question."
Lindsay asked Myers, who wasn't called as a witness during the Sandusky trial, where he was when the trial took place.
"I believe I was somewhere in central Pennsylvania," he said. "Now exactly where I was, I can't recall. I might have been working. I don't know exactly, but I was here in Pennsylvania . . . I was somewhere inside Clinton County or Clearfield County, somewhere in that little Trifecta."
Asked if he could recall being in a specific place, Myers replied, "I can't recall where I was when the trial was going on . . . I can't tell you exactly where I was, I don't remember that."
It was Lindsay's contention that Sandusky deserved a new trial because the prosecutor, Joseph McGettigan, lied to the jury when he said that the existence of Victim No. 2 was "known only to God."
After Myers left the witness stand, Lindsay put Sandusky up to testify as a rebuttal witness.
"Mr. Sandusky, did you ever sexually abuse Allan Myers in any way," Lindsay asked.
"Absolutely not," Sandusky said.
John Ziegler, a reporter who was in the courtroom when Myers testified, said he was glad that the transcript had finally released.
"This is the only testimony of the person who is the epicenter of this whole thing," Ziegler said about the Penn State scandal.
"And it's obvious to anyone who understand the case that he [Myers] wasn't telling the truth," Ziegler said. "He [Myers] remembers everything up until he flips on Jerry and then he can't remember anything."
Myers' testimony, Ziegler said, was "a hundred percent consistent with a guy who had who had flipped for $3 million and felt bad about it, and didn't want to deal with it anymore."
When Sandusky took the stand, Ziegler recalled, "He was in tears, he was angry. It was righteous anger."
John Snedden, a former NCIS and FIS special agent who investigated the scandal at Penn State, said he was disturbed by Myers' evolving story.
"His initial statements are definitive and exculpatory," Snedden said. "His testimony then degrades into a wishy-washy, exceptionally foggy abyss."
"Being officially interviewed as the 'victim' of a traumatic event doesn't happen everyday," Snedden said. "And then you can't remember the specifics of that interview? Seriously?"
"It's clear why he [Myers] wasn't called by the prosecution" in the Sandusky case," Snedden said. "His testimony is exculpatory and now serves only as an example of blatant prosecutorial manipulation."
And where the hell did they hide Myers during the Sandusky trial?
By Ralph Cipriano
Andrea Constand, the woman who accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her, has a few secrets she'd like to keep.
So in federal court in Philadelphia, where she's suing former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor for defamation, Constand wants to seal her deposition and keep her medical and financial records private.
But those secrets may not keep. On Sept. 12, Judge Eduardo C. Robreno issued a ruling for Constand to show cause why the interim seal on her deposition should not be lifted. Cosby's lawyers, who filed as intervenors in the defamation case, have already received a redacted copy of Constand's deposition against Castor.
In a 12-page motion to seal filed Sept. 22 by Constand's lawyers, Bebe H. Kivitz and Dolores M. Troiani, the lawyers argue that Cosby's alleged victim would like to keep "sensitive personal information" under seal, and not have it exposed to Cosby and the media. Castor's lawyers, however, filed a motion last week, saying there is no justifiable reason for the secrecy since all of Costand's allegations against Cosby, as well as Castor, have been nationally and internationally publicized.
Judge Robreno has set a 9 a.m. Oct 20 hearing on the issue of whether Constand's sensitive personal information should remain under seal. In the meantime, with the graphic details of Constand's accusations already out there in People magazine, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, the Daily Mail, The Washington Post, etc., the only thing Costand may have left to hide is how many millions Cosby paid her to go away.
Constand is the 44-year-old former director of operations for Temple University's women's basketball team who claimed that in 2004, Cosby drugged her with three blue pills and then sexually abused her at his Elkins Park home.
Castor, the former Montgomery County D.A., declined to prosecute the case, forcing Constand "to seek any recourse in a civil action," her lawyers wrote in the defamation lawsuit.
But in not prosecuting Cosby, and granting him immunity, Castor did Constand a favor of sorts that would ultimately pay off for her. When Castor told Cosby's lawyers he wasn't going to be prosecuted, Cosby gave a 2005 deposition in the civil case where he admitted to drugging Constand, and engaging in sexual encounters with her. These were admissions that came back to haunt the comedian.
Constand's civil suit against Cosby was settled with a confidential payoff in 2006, probably for millions. Cosby would have been justified if he thought that was the end of it.
Then, in 2015, a new Montgomery County D.A., Risa Vetri Ferman, decided to reopen the criminal case against Cosby. And that same year, a judge decided to unseal Cosby's deposition in the old civil case.
Castor, who wanted to make another run for D.A. 2015, then made some statements about the old criminal case that angered Constand.
Castor said that if he had gone ahead with a Cosby prosecution, both Cosby and Constant could be portrayed "in a less than flattering light." Castor also said that Costand had lodged more serious sexual assault allegations in the civil lawsuit against Cosby than she divulged to police.
Constand had originally told police that when she woke up after Cosby drugged her, she found her brassiere around her neck.
But in her civil lawsuit, Constand claimed the comedian had fondled her breasts, penetrated her vagina with his hand, and placed Constand's hand on his penis, charges she would reiterate when she testified for a day and a half in the criminal case against Cosby last June.
"If the allegations in the civil complaint were contained with that detail in her statement to the police, we might have been able to make a case out of it," Castor said.
So Constand sued Castor for defamation. But she wanted to keep what came out in her lawsuit against Castor under seal. In the motion to seal Constand's records, her lawyers say, "This [defamation] lawsuit should not serve as a backdoor mechanism for Cosby and his counsel to obtain documents they would otherwise not be able to access in the criminal case."
Cosby is supposed to be retried next Spring.
In their motion to keep Constand's records private, her lawyers claimed that she was reluctantly brought into the spotlight.
Constand "does not hold public office nor is she a celebrity," her lawyers wrote. "She lived a very quiet and private life in Canada for 10 years. She is a private person who finds herself engaged in litigation based on [Castor's] efforts to defame her by statements to the media and the phenomenon of social media."
"Her private testimony and records concerning her medical and emotional care as well as her financial status should remain private," Constand's lawyers wrote. "Releasing it would not only violate her privacy rights, it would cause her embarrassment."
There was a confidentiality agreement in the defamation case regarding discovery [depositions and responses to lawyers questions] that was approved by Judge Robreno back on March 8, 2017. But while what happens in discovery is usually confidential, the judge may decide that confidentiality might be over when discovery is over.
Although Cosby's lawyers got a redacted copy of Constand's deposition in the defamation case, the
"entire deposition transcript" as well as and expert reports in the case remain under seal, her lawyers wrote. As does "evidence concerning plaintiff's medical and psychological treatment, financial information, including the deposition testimony and discovery responses."
In their motion to keep Constand's private information under seal, her lawyers cite "Castor's history of attempting to pass information to Cosby's criminal defense team and convey confidential information to Cosby's counsel via publicly filing discovery responses."
In an 8-page response motion filed Oct. 2nd, Castor's lawyers, Justin A. Bayer and Robert Connell Pugh ripped Constand's earlier filing.
"Rather than attempt to show cause, [Constand] spends the first six pages of her memorandum leveling nonsensical, false accusations intending to impugn the reputation of Mr. Castor," his lawyers wrote.
"Rather than waste the judge's time disproving each falsehood," Castor's lawyers wrote, they turned to the matter at hand, and concluded there was "no privacy interest at issue that justifies a seal."
"The facts of Commonwealth v. Cosby have received world-wide media attention," Castor's lawyers wrote.
"Moreover, [Constand] 'finds herself in litigation' with Mr. Castor because she field a lawsuit against him one week before an election publicly accusing him of wrongdoing and alleging damages," Castor's lawyers wrote. Constant "knowingly gave up privacy rights when she sued" Castor. And now Castor "seeks to defend himself against baseless claims."
Constand "fails to articulate any embarrassment which would justify a seal," Castor's lawyers wrote. So Castor is "entitled to defend himself in the same public manner in which the accusations against him have been made."
By Ralph Cipriano
On Nov. 10, 2011, six days after the state Attorney General's office released its official grand jury report on the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal, deputy Attorney Jonelle Eshbach was trying to calm Mike McQueary, her distraught star whistle-blower.
McQueary had written Eshbach earlier that day to tell her that the grand jury report that told the world that McQueary had witnessed a naked Sandusky in the Penn State showers having anal intercourse with a 10-year-old boy was wrong. In that same email, McQueary complained to the A.G.'s office that they had "twisted" his words about "whatever it was" that he had actually seen or heard in the showers.
Now there's a star witness you can have confidence in.
In a second email sent that same day, McQueary complained to Eshbach about "being misrepresented" in the media. And then McQueary tried to straighten out the prosecutor on a couple of other misconceptions, writing that he never went to Coach Joe Paterno's house with his father, and that he had never seen Sandusky with a child at a Penn State football practice.
"I know that a lot of this stuff is incorrect and it is hard not to respond," Eshbach emailed McQueary. "But you can't."
That email exchange, divulged in a couple of posts by Penn State blogger Ray Blehar, have people in Penn State Nation talking about prosecutorial misconduct. Naturally, the A.G.'s office has nothing to say about it, as an office spokesperson declined comment today.
The 2011 grand jury report said that back when he visited the Penn State showers in 2001, Mike McQueary heard "rhythmic, slapping sounds." Then, he peered into showers and "saw a naked boy, Victim No. 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Jerry Sandusky."
But McQueary wrote Eshbach, while copying Agent Anthony Sassano, "I feel my words are slightly twisted and not totally portrayed correctly in the presentment."
"I cannot say 1000 percent sure that it was sodomy. I did not see insertion," McQueary wrote. "It was a sexual act and or way over the line in my opinion whatever it was."
McQueary also complained about the media attention he was getting.
"National media, and public opinion has totally, in every single way, ruined me," McQueary wrote. "For what?"
"Also," McQueary wrote, "I never went to Coach Paterno's house with my father . . . It was me and only me . . . he was out of town the night before . . . never ever have I seen JS with a child at one of our practices . . . "
Then he returned to the subject of the bad publicity he was getting over the grand jury report.
"I am being misrepresented in the media," McQueary wrote. "It just is not right."
"I know that a lot of this stuff is incorrect and it is hard to to respond," Eshbach wrote back. "But you can't."
Former NCIS and FIS Special Agent John Snedden, a Penn State alum, was blown away by Eshbach's email response to McQueary.
"It's incredible, it's evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, trying to steer a witness's testimony," Snedden said. "It shows that the prosecution's manipulating the information, throwing out what they don't want and padding what they do want . . . It very strongly suggests a fictitious presentment."
During the defamation suit McQueary filed against Penn State, Eshbach was sworn in as a witness and asked to explain what she meant by telling McQueary not to talk.
"My advice to Mr. McQueary not to make a statement was based on the strengthening of my -- and saving of my case," Eshbach testified. "I did not want him [McQueary] making statements to the press at that time that could at some time be used against him in cross-examination. He [McQueary] was perfectly free to make a statement, but I asked him not to."
There's another angle to the prosecutorial misconduct story line -- this email exchange between McQueary and Eshbach that was reported on by Blehar was not turned over by the prosecution to defense lawyers during the Sandusky trial and the trial of former Penn State president Graham Spanier.
While we're on the subject of prosecutorial misconduct, at the Spanier trial, it was McQueary who testified that during the bye week of the 2011 Penn State football season, he got a call on his cell phone from the attorney general's office, tipping him off that "We're going to arrest folks and we are going to leak it out."
The fact that Mike McQueary didn't see a naked Jerry Sandusky having anal intercourse in the showers with a 10-year-old boy isn't the only erroneous assumption that came out of that shoddy 2011 grand jury report, Blehar wrote.
"The Sandusky grand jury presentment of Nov. 4, 2011 provided a misleading account of what eyewitness Michael McQueary reported to Joe Paterno about the 2001 incident," Blehar wrote. "Rather than stating what McQueary reported, it stated he reported 'what he had seen'which led the media and the public to erroneously conclude the specific details were reported to Paterno."
Keep in mind what the grand jury report said McQueary had seen -- a naked Sandusky having anal intercourse in the showers with a 10-year-old boy -- never actually happened, according to McQueary.
The grand jury report said:
"The graduate assistant went to his office and called his father, reporting to him what he had seen . . . The graduate assistant and his father decided that the graduate assistant had to promptly report what he had seen to Coach Joe Paterno . . . The next morning, a Saturday, the graduate assistant telephoned Paterno and went to Paterno's home, where he reported what he had seen."
Blehar cited the words of Joe Paterno, who issued a statement on Nov. 6, 2011, saying that McQueary had "at no time related to me the very specific actions contained in the grand jury report."
On Dec. 6, 2011, McQueary was asked under oath whether he had ever used the term "anal sodomy" in talking to Paterno.
"I've never used that term," McQueary said. "I would have explained to him the positions they were in roughly, but it was definitely sexual, but I have never used the word anal or rape in this since day one."
So what exactly did you tell Paterno, the prosecutor asked McQueary.
"I gave a brief description of what I saw," McQueary testified. "You don't -- ma'am, you don't go to Coach Paterno or at least in my mind and I don't go to Coach Paterno and go into great detail of sexual acts. I would have never done that with him ever."
Blehar also points out that not even the jury in the Sandusky case believed that Sandusky had anally raped Victim No. 2 in the Penn State showers, because they came to a not guilty verdict on the count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.
Blehar then cites four other witnesses in the case who also testified that McQueary never used sexual terms in describing what he had allegedly seen in the shower.
"Subsequent testimony in numerous proceedings from 2011 through 2017 by John McQueary, Dr. [John] Dranov, [former Penn State Athletic Director Tim] Curley and [former Penn State VP Gary] Schutz confirmed that no explicitly sexual terms were used by McQueary when he described what he actually saw," Blehar wrote.
In his second email to Eshbach, McQueary stated, "I never went to Coach Paterno's house with my father . . . It was me and only me . . . he was out the night before . . ."
In the email, McQueary doesn't say who the he was who was out the night before. In his blog post, Blehar takes the he as a reference to McQueary's father.
"Wait, what?" Blehar writes. "Paterno was in State College on Friday night. If this statement is true, then Mike did NOT meet with his father (and Dr. Dranov) immediately after the incident(because John Sr. was 'out of town.')"
"Another fabrication?" writes Blehar. "And the AG knew it."
In handwritten notes made in 2010, McQueary doesn't mention mention any meeting with his father and Dr. Dranov. Instead, he writes that he "drove to my parents' house" and "spoke with my father about the incident and received advice."
He also reiterates, "to be clear: from the time I walked into the locker room to the time I left was maybe one minute -- I was hastened & a bit flustered."
A hazy one-minute memory that McQueary himself admitted he had no idea "whatever it was" he had actually witnessed.
But it was a hazy, one-minute memory that the AG's office wrote an entire grand jury presentment around.
It was evidence like this that led Special Agent Snedden to conclude that McQueary was not a credible witness back in 2012 when Snedden was investigating whether former Penn State President Spanier deserved to have his high-level security clearance with the federal government renewed. Snedden wrote a recently declassified 110-page report that concluded there was no cover up at Penn State because there was no sex crime to cover up.
Because McQueary wasn't a credible witness, and he gave five different accounts of what he witnessed during that one minute in the Penn State showers.
"I'd love to see McQueary's cell phone records, absent whatever dick pics he was sending out that day," Snedden cracked, referring to the day McQueary witnessed the shower incident, and then called his father to figure out what to do.
"Did he even call his dad," Snedden wondered.
Snedden renewed his call for an independent investigation of the entire Penn State scandal, and the attorney general's role in manipulating evidence in the case.
"Anybody who cares about justice needs to be screaming for a special prosecutor in this case," Snedden said.
John Ziegler, a journalist who has covered the Penn State scandal since day one, agreed.
"This seems like blatant OAG misconduct and an indication that they were acutely aware their case had major problems," Ziegler wrote in an email. "Eshbach's response is stunning in that it admits errors in grand jury presentment and tells Mike to shut up about it."
Ziegler said the possibility that Mike McQueary never met with his father and Dr. Dranov, his father's boss, in an emergency meeting, if true, was big news.
"This is HUGE for several reasons," Ziegler wrote. The meeting, which supposedly occurred on the night McQueary witnessed the shower incident was the "ONLY piece of evidence that has EVER been consistent with Mike witnessing something horrible/dramatic" in the Penn State showers. And that's why "Dranov was brought in to meet with him [Mike McQueary] late on a Friday night in February," Ziegler said.
The AG's office, Ziegler speculated, "is desperate for evidence that Mike did something dramatic in reaction to" witnessing the shower incident.
If he really saw an anal rape ongoing in the shower, however, McQueary didn't rush in there and try to save a helpless, 10-year-old boy.
He didn't call the police.
"The meeting with Dranov is all they have," Ziegler wrote.
By Ralph Cipriano
The Philadelphia Inquirer is typically pro-prosecution.
It's something that defendants in a long line of corruption cases can attest to, such as Vince Fumo, Chaka Fattah, the so-called rogue cops, former L&I Inspector Dominic Verdi, the Traffic Court judges, state Senator Larry Farnese, etc.
The Inquirer's usual pattern is to trumpet the allegations of prosecutors as proven facts, which can be a problem when it comes to the presumption of innocence. It's also troublesome if the defendants in these corruption cases are actually found not guilty at trial, as with the rogue cops, Verdi, and Farnese. After all, that's why they play the games, because sometimes the underdogs might win.
But on Monday, the Inky did something new in the war on defendants in corruption cases: they actually denounced a couple of defendants on the editorial page while they were on trial for their lives. While their fates were actually in the hands of a jury.
In the case of payday lending pioneer Charles Hallinan, and his lawyer, Wheeler K. Neff, the Inquirer blasted both of them on the editorial page under a headline that said, "Why payday loan sharks should be arrested and tried."
In the case of Hallinan and Neff, a business man and his lawyer have been hit with a RICO indictment as the government is attempting to criminalize the previously tolerated practice of payday lending.
It's something for a jury to decide, whether payday lending should indeed be criminalized. But the Inquirer editorial board already has the whole thing figured out.
In case you missed it, in the editorial that was originally written on Oct. 13 and updated on Monday, Oct. 16, the Inquirer wrote:
"It is a relief to see federal prosecutors and regulators finally cracking down on payday lenders. While the moves are past due, it is unclear if the prosecutions will be enough to deter a sleazy industry if tough new restrictions will last.
"Payday lending is simply a genial term for loansharking. Lenders make short-term loans to cash-strapped individuals at exorbitant interest rates that can top 800 percent. The high-cost loans leave borrowers, often already living on the edge, deeper in debt or even bankrupt.
"That's why it was good to see federal prosecutors bring racketeering and conspiracy charges against one of the biggest payday lenders in the region, Charles Hallinan, owner of MyNextPaycheck and more than two dozen other loan companies . . .
"Hallinan and codefendant Wheeler K. Neff, his longtime legal counsel, are credited with developing dubious strategies that helped turn payday lending into a multibillion-dollar industry by partnering with sovereign American Indian tribes to evade state-imposed interest-rate caps . . .
"Regardless of the outcome of Hallinan and Neff's trial," the newspaper editorial concluded, more prosecutions and regulation are needed to stop payday lending abuses."
The newspaper also ran a photo of Hallinan with the editorial. The only thing they forgot to do was to tell the jury to convict the defendants.
On Monday, faced with prejudicial publicity, the judge in the case, at the behest of defense lawyers, called a halt to the trial to question jurors about whether they had seen the editorial. The judge asked for a show of hands but nobody had read or would admit to reading the editorial.
It's standard jury instructions for jurors to be told not to read anything about the case they are sitting in judgment on. Although in the Fumo case, we know the jurors were reading those stories. And at the end of the epic, nearly five-month long Fumo trial of 2008-09, one juror actually asked a bunch of reporters who wrote all those Fumo stories in the Inquirer, and then the juror wound up high-fiving the Inky reporter.
So much for standard jury instructions in the age of the Internet and social media.
Defense lawyers in the payday lending case declined comment, and the trial, which began last month, resumed. It's expected to be finished by the end of this month.
By Ralph Cipriano
Lawyers for Jerry Sandusky yesterday charged the state Attorney General's office with prosecutorial misconduct for withholding a revelatory email exchange between the lead prosecutor in the case, and her distraught star witness.
A day before the judge in the case was expected to announce whether Sandusky would be granted a new trial under the Post Conviction Relief Act [PCRA], lawyers Alexander H. Lindsay Jr. and J. Andrew Salemme filed a motion in Centre County Common Pleas Court asking the judge to reopen the record, admit newly discovered evidence, and convene a hearing to question former Deputy Attorney General Jonelle Eshbach, and whistle blower Mike McQueary.
A Big Trial story on the email exchange, first disclosed by blogger Ray Blehar, was attached to the defense lawyers' petition filed yesterday as Exhibit B. [The email exchange itself was Exhibit A.]
On Nov. 10, 2011, six days after the state Attorney General's office released its official grand jury report on the Sandusky sex scandal, McQueary emailed Eshbach to tell her that the grand jury report that said McQueary had witnessed a naked Sandusky in the Penn State showers having anal intercourse with a 10-year-old boy was wrong. In that same email, McQueary complained to the A.G.'s office that they had "twisted" his words about "whatever it was" that he had actually seen or heard in the showers.
In a second email sent that same day, McQueary complained to Eshbach about "being misrepresented" in the media. McQueary appeared to be contradicting a Sara Ganim report by telling Eshbach, "I never went to Coach Paterno's house with my father . . . It was me and only me . . . he was out of town the night before . . ."
"I know that a lot of this stuff is incorrect and it is hard not to respond," Eshbach responded in an email to McQueary. "But you can't."
In their petition, Sandusy's lawyers wrote that they just received a copy of that email echange on Oct. 10th, and that it had not been turned over previously to Sandusky's trial attorney, Joseph Amendola.
"This email exchange, which is attached, is evidence that McQueary's statements that he met with his father regarding observing Mr. Sandusky in the shower with a child the same night is inaccurate as Michael McQueary indicates that his father was not actually in town," the lawyers wrote.
In the McQueary email, there's some confusion over whether the person that McQueary said was out of town was his father, or Coach Joe Paterno. Either way, the defense lawyers write, it's a problem for the prosecution.
"To the extent that the email could be construed as Mr. McQueary stating that Mr. Paterno was not in town, it is believed . . . that Mr. Paterno was home and therefore that also could have been impeachment evidence," the lawyers wrote.
In their petition, Sandusky's lawyers say the email exchange where McQueary claims the AG's office twisted his words was evidence of prosecutorial misconduct. The defense lawyers previously gave the judge in the PCRA hearing a transcript from the Graham Spanier case, where McQueary disclosed on the witness stand that the AG's office had informed him that they were going to leak the grand jury report to the media.
"None of this information had previously been provided by the office of attorney general," Sandusky's lawyers wrote the judge.
This "additional information is further evidence of the prosecution's failure to turnover Brady impeachment evidence," the lawyers wrote, referring to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland, where the court ruled that all evidence that could benefit a defendant must be turned over to the defense.
At the end of their petition, Sandusky's lawyers ask for a hearing where Eshbach, McQueary and Amendola would be summoned to testify "as to whether such information was disclosed and/or received by trial counsel in conjunction with previously raised Brady claims."
Graham Spanier's conviction on a single count of child endangerment doesn't make much sense from a variety of different angles, his lawyers argued in an appeal brief filed yesterday in Commonwealth Court.
First, the crime that the former Penn State president was convicted of was Spanier's response, or lack thereof, to an alleged 2001 rape in the Penn State showers of a ten-year-old boy, a crime supposedly witnessed by wacky whiste blower Mike McQueary.
Let's skip over the fact that McQueary told five different versions of the story about what he supposedly saw and heard in the shower that night, and that he later admitted in writing in an email to the prosecutor that they got the grand jury report wrong, and that he had never actually seen a rape.
The statute of limitations for child endangerment in Pennsylvania is only two years. So by the time the attorney general's office got around to charging Spanier, in 2012, the statute on the 2001 imaginary sex-in-the-showers crime had long expired.
Second, the way the resourceful prosecutors got around the statute of limitations problem at trial was to claim that Spanier had engaged in a continuing course of conduct over the years, namely a cover up that extended until the time they charged him, in 2012. But the jury at Spanier's trial found him not guilty of engaging in a continuing course of conduct to endanger the welfare of a child.
So, the conviction was on flimsy ground.
But third, the resourceful trial judge's post-conviction solution on how to get around the statute of limitations problem was to raise an exception from the Philadelphia archdiocese sex abuse case that allowed for someone accused of endangering the welfare of a child to be charged up until the year that the alleged [in our case unknown and possibly imaginary] rape victim was 50 years old.
Again, to wrap our heads around this pretzel logic we have to forget that the alleged victim never came forward, and the prosecutor at trial claimed his identity was known "only to God."
The problem with that exception employed post-trial by the trial judge was that it was never raised before, during or after the Spanier trial by the prosecutors. So Spanier's lawyers say the exception shouldn't apply.
Fourth, Spanier's lawyers make the point that the prosecutors charged Spanier in 2011 with violating the child endangerment statute with the 2001 imaginary rape.
The problem here is that the state's 1972 child endangerment law only applied to people who had direct contact with children, such as parents, teachers and guardians. The law was amended after the Philadelphia archdiocese sex abuse scandal in 2007, to include supervisors such as Msgr. William J. Lynn, the archdiocese's former secretary of clergy, who was in charge of supervising abusive priests.
The problem in the Spanier case, his lawyers say, is that the attorney general's office is in effect charging Spanier under the 2007 amended law, which is unconstitutional.
In the case of Msgr. Lynn, his conviction on one count of child endangerment in 2012 was overturned by the state Superior Court because the original law didn't apply to him. But that sensible decision was overturned by the state Supreme Court.
The state Supreme Court's decision in the Lynn case basically got around the fact that Lynn wasn't in direct contact with children by saying that if an administrator knowingly placed a sexually abusive person in proximity to children under his care, then he could be charged with child endangerment.
During the Spanier trial, however, his lawyers argue that the prosecution failed to offer any evidence that Spanier, the president of a university, "owed a duty of care to minor children, or that he was supervising the welfare of those children."
Spanier was sentenced to a jail term of between four and twelve months, a $7,5000 fine, 200 hours of community service, as well as being on the hook for paying the costs of prosecuting him.
By Ralph Cipriano
The judge wouldn't even let him out of jail to see Mom
Today in court, Judge Paul S. Diamond ripped former Philadelphia D.A. Rufus Seth Williams a new one before packing him off to jail for five years.
"You sold yourself to the parasites you surrounded yourself with," the judge blasted Williams during sentencing. The judge talked about "your profound dishonesty," and told the city's former top law enforcement officer, "I simply don't find you credible."
This was while the judge was declaring Williams a flight risk, and saying he couldn't take a chance of letting Williams out of jail. So the former D.A. could stay at his ex-wife's house, at the request of his lawyers, where he supposedly was going to get to see his ailing 85-year-old Mom one last time.
"The defendant stole from his mother," the judge asked incredulously, "and now he wants to see her?" The judge thought that demand was "so outrageous," he said from the bench, that he didn't think there were sufficient words in the English language to express how outrageous. The judge even went so far as to rip Williams' prepared statement, as read in court by his lawyer, by saying it "sounded like a campaign speech." Ouch.
No, our sad sack of a D.A., who got through life by conning the gullible, finally ran into somebody who wasn't buying it -- an angry Judge Diamond. Williams is lucky the plea bargain he agreed to didn't give the judge a chance to give Williams more time. Because he surely would have.
Williams, wearing a tan short-sleeve shirt, sweatpants and sneakers, showed up in court some 25 pounds lighter after a nearly four-month stay in solitary confinement. Williams, who used to go in for deep-tissue massages and deep-pore facials at the Union League and Sporting Club, as paid for by his political action committee, has been roughing it of late at the Special Housing Unit at Sixth and Market.
At the "SHU," they only let him out of his 8x10 cell one hour a day, and he only gets to make one phone call a month.
At the defense table, Williams, ever the drama queen, was dabbing his eyes to wipe away the tears while his lawyer, Tom Burke, read a statement from Williams' ex-wife Sonita.
According to Williams' ex, the two remain close "despite our divorce."
"Seth is a good man," his ex-wife said, even though he was a "flawed man who made flawed decisions."
"Seth has lost everything," his ex-wife pleaded with the judge, as Williams, right on cue, was dabbing his eyes, and reaching for the tissues. But the judge wasn't going along with Sonita Williams' plea to let her ex out of jail so he could spend time with his daughters and his Mom, before getting shipped off to prison.
Next, Burke, Williams' lawyer, talked about the "long hours, low pay and heavy workload" Williams endured as an assistant district attorney.
In pleading for mercy, Burke talked about the "great strides that he [Williams] made to improve the [D.A.'s] office," his "nearly 20 years of military service" in the U.S. Army and National Guard, and his "long service to the Catholic Church."
But Burke lost my sympathy when he talked about Williams'"courage in taking on the Catholic Church" in his crusade against sex abuse.
If there were any justice in our brazenly corrupt city, a special prosecutor would be investigating how Williams and a few of his prosecutors knowingly put a fraudulent sex abuse victim, Billy Doe AKA Danny Gallagher, on the witness stand to stage a witch hunt against the church, a witch hunt that put four men in jail for a string of phony rapes dreamed up by a junkie without a conscience.
The special prosecutor would also be looking into how the D.A.'s office under Rufus Seth Williams hooked Gallagher up with a civil lawyer, so he could sue the Catholic Church, and steal $5 million in a civil settlement, for imaginary pain and suffering.
And the special prosecutor would also be looking into whether anybody from the D.A.'s office got a kickback from that stolen $5 million.
Sorry, Mr. Burke, it wasn't courage that prompted Rufus Seth Williams to use a phony witness to stage a witch hunt, it was a lust for headlines. And the arrogance of somebody who says the law means whatever I say it means.
In pleading for mercy, Burke mentioned that Williams would be "virtually penniless" and without his law license, which was revoked last week, when he gets out jail.
Burke then read a prepared statement from the defendant.
In his statement, which he didn't have the guts to read himself, Williams talked about his "mistakes of character and judgment."
Completely lacking both, Williams jumped to his distinction as the city's first African-American D.A., and then he mentioned, "I squandered that trust placed in me."
"I have failed them," he said about his supporters. And he talked about "the shame I brought to the office I loved," and how much he had hurt his ex-wife, and his girlfriend.
Next up was Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer, who said that Williams didn't deserve any credit, at least at sentencing, for the good things he did while in office. Instead, Zauzmer asked the judge to remember the "devastating effect" Williams' corruption had on the men and women left at the D.A.'s office.
"He is a criminal," Zauzmer said. "And he was a criminal for a long period of time."
The prosecutor talked about how Williams used to take SUVs set aside for drug investigations and use them as his own personal vehicles, for going on vacations, sporting around town, etc.
As D.A. Williams earned between $170,000 and $200,000 a year, Zauzmer said, and yet, "It wasn't good enough for Mr. Williams. He just wants more."
More, both the prosecutor and judge noted, involved stealing $23,000 intended for his mother's care in a Catholic nursing home.
After the oratory was over, the judge sentenced Williams to 60 months in jail, followed by three years of supervised release, also known as probation. Williams also has to pay $58,422 in restitution.
The judge did not impose a fine on Williams, because he noted the deadbeat defendant, who also couldn't pay his lawyers, was dead broke.
And then it was time to slap the cuffs back on Williams, and lead him off to solitary confinement, while he awaits a permanent prison assignment for the next five years of his life.
Outside the courthouse, defense lawyer Burke said he was disappointed, but not surprised, by the judge's decision to not allow Williams to see his mother.
"Yeah, we're a little disappointed at that," Burke said, adding that he had implored the judge to allow the visit for Mom's sake, and not for sonny boy's.
But Zauzmer said the judge made the right decision, because he had determined that Williams wasn't credible, and that he also posed a flight risk.
He was at various stages of his long life, a Daily News sports writer, a restauranteur, a state representative, a City Councilman, a felon, a newspaper editor, a raconteur, always a true character, and above all else, an old-school politician.
Jimmy Tayoun died yesterday at 87, after collapsing in front of his home, apparently after suffering a heart attack.
I first met Tayoun back in 1993, as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, when I visited Tayoun while he was a guest at the Federal Correctional Institute, Schuylkill in Minersville, PA. It's a sleepy minimum security prison located on a foggy mountaintop where the deer run free, about a 2 1/2 hour drive northwest of the city. At the time, Tayoun was doing 40 months after he got nailed by the feds for paying and taking bribes.
There was a basic honesty about Tayoun that shown through his prison whites, and his circumstances.
"OK, I'm not going to say I'm innocent," he told me. "I'm obviously guilty. I pleaded guilty and I'm here." Tayoun explained to me how the prosecutors convinced him to plead guilty. They did it by showing him the indictment they threatened to file against his wife.
Tayoun demonstrated how he stuck out his two arms, as if voluntarily agreeing to be handcuffed. "You got me," is what he told the feds.
I remember being impressed by how Tayoun handled prison. He didn't sulk or mope. Instead, as a former proprietor of The Middle East restaurant in Old City, Tayoun put his knowledge to work, taking over the prison kitchen while they paid him 40 cents an hour.
"I'm top dog," he explained. He also found the time to write two books, while pecking away at an old IBM electric typewriter.
The first of his jailhouse classics -- "Going to Prison?" -- was a slim pinstriped volume that Tayoun billed as a "practical guide for the first offender." It was filled with down-to-earth advice about make sure you pack an extra toothbrush, get your dental work done before you go to jail, and don't forget to bring along an extra pair of slippers.
He also wrote a political novel about a fictional Philadelphia City Councilman, Joe Jowdy, a flamboyant workaholic who was being chased by the feds. Only in Jimmy's version, the councilman beat the rap.
The editors at the Inquirer were so amused by the idea of Tayoun the novelist that they agreed to run a chapter of his unpublished novel in the Inquirer Sunday magazine. Back when they had a Sunday magazine. This was after Tayoun got through doing his time.
When I called Jimmy to give him the good news, I added that the editors were willing to pay him more than $1,000 bucks for his literary work.
Without missing a beat, Tayoun shot back, "Ten percent of it is yours."
I said, Jimmy, isn't this the kind of behavior that got you in trouble?
He just laughed.
When I stopped by to see Tayoun at his house on South Broad Street, I was amazed at how many times his phone rang, and how many of his former constituents would call asking for his help or advice. He had been out of office a long time, but he serviced every one of those calls like he was still running for reelection.
One night, after I got fired by the Inky, Tayoun took me out for dinner in South Philly, and then we wound up at the Triangle Tavern, where we watched some truly bad amateur acts, and met a string of local characters who stood in line to talk to Jimmy.
By the end of the night, I was exhausted and ready to pack it in. Tayoun, however, only seemed to draw more energy from every bad act, and every character that stopped by his table.
In prison, Tayoun had outlined to me his plans to start a weekly newspaper that would cater to politicians. The people who paid for ads in his newspaper would get favorable press, he explained; the ones that didn't pay would get bad press, or even worse, ignored.
When I got out, I marveled how Jimmy got his "Public Record" up and running. And then I watched him screw over the Inquirer by getting his pals in City Hall to publish all their public notices in the Public Record, rather than our city's daily newspaper or record.
It was classic Jimmy in action. He was always twisting arms and cutting deals, but he was so unpredictable, he could flip on you in a second.
True to his ethnic roots, he would have made a fine tribal leader in Lebanon, the homeland of his ancestors. "You don't buy Tayoun," his fellow politicians used to gripe about Jimmy, "you rent him."
But reporters loved him because he was blunt and colorful.
How could you not love a guy who used to bill himself as the City Council's "camel jockey." A guy who used to print up two shades of campaign posters; a lighter-skinned version of himself for Center City, and a tanned version for African-American wards.
When I was writing a book about Vince Fumo, a book that will be published next month, Tayoun gave me a fun interview filled with his usual frank assessments of Vince, and his predecessor in office, Buddy Cianfrani.
When I asked Jimmy if he wanted me to call him back, and read him all his quotes, like many other people in the book insisted on doing, Tayoun just sneered, as if such a courtesy wasn't necessary for somebody who always shot from the hip.
I'll take an old-school back-slapping pol like Tayoun any day over the modern pale version, an empty suit like Michael Nutter. Or our current joyless left-wing mayor, who spends his nights drinking alone, and his days complaining that he can't get anything done.
Rest in peace, Jimmy.
What really alerted me initially was reading the trial transcript for June 13, 2012, where I found Dustin Stuble (“Victim 7”) explaining why his testimony had changed from what he said under oath at the grand jury the previous year. “Through counseling and through talking about different events, through talking about things in my past, different things triggered different memories and [I] have had more things come back, and it’s changed a lot about what I can remember today and what I could remember before, because I had everything negative blocked out.”
Aha! I thought. It is obvious that he was in repressed memory therapy. I was right, as Struble himself told me later, and it turned out that repressed memories lay at the core of the case against Sandusky, while other memory issues lay at the heart of the infamous shower scene that got Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier fired.
By Ralph Cipriano
Former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo is back in the news.
Fumo, who has kept a low profile since his 2013 release from prison, is the subject of an 8,000-word profile in Philadelphia magazine's December issue, available now on newsstands. "The Vince of Darkness" is also the subject of a book I've written, Target: The Senator; A Story About Power And Abuse of Power, coming soon to amazon.com.
I met Fumo back in 2008, when I covered his corruption trial that ended with him getting convicted on all 137 felony counts. I've been working on the book on and off for the past eight years. I'll say one thing about Fumo as a subject -- he may be the devil to some, and crazy to others, but he's never been boring.
The Philly mag story is an interesting read, about Fumo as well as the distorted coverage of him by the Inquirer.
It took a near death experience to convince retired Philadelphia police detective Joe Walsh that he couldn't keep quiet anymore about what he knew.
On June 11, 2015, just another sunny day down at the Jersey Shore, Walsh suddenly felt severe pain in his jaw. An old Army who noticed the color had drained from Walsh's face told him to "Sit down" while he called 911.
In the ambulance, a paramedic asked Walsh if he liked the T-shirt he was wearing. "Not particularly," Walsh told him. "That's good," the paramedic said, before he cut it ff with scissors. "He hooked me up [to a monitor] and that's all I remember," Walsh says. "Everything went white."
The rest of the story of Joe Walsh's journey through Philadelphia pedophile priest scandals can be read here.
By Ralph Cipriano
The "Vince of Darkness" is back with a vengeance.
Philly Voice ran a long interview this morning with former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo.
Fumo, who spent four years in jail after he was convicted on 137 felony counts, characteristically came out swinging, saying he was the target of "an avalanche of negative publicity," and "prosecutorial over-agression," and that he did not deserve being branded with "The Scarlet Letter."
In Fumo's case, instead of an "A" like Hester Prynne, he got an "F" emblazoned on his forehead as a convicted felon.
Philly Voice also ran an excerpt from my new book, Target: The Senator, A Story About Power and Abuse of Power.
That's on top of an 8,000 word Philly mag profile of Fumo that also discusses the book, which is out on Kindle, and will shortly be available in a paperback, with a hard cover on the way.
Anybody who reads Target: The Senator will recognize some familiar themes from this blog; overzealous and unaccountable prosecutors and a hometown newspaper that blindly favors them.
These are the themes that run through so many stories recounted on this blog, including the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse scandals, the rogue cops case, the trials of former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, former L&I Deputy Commissioner Dominic Verdi, and former Penn State President Graham Spanier, as well as the so-called Penn State sex abuse scandal.
Well the granddaddy of all of the cases in this genre is the Fumo case, which was staged for nearly five months at the federal courthouse back in 2008 and 2009.
Whether you loathed or loved Fumo, his case was a travesty from start to finish. There were so many leaks, the defendant was being tried and convicted in the media for years before his trial even began.
In Fumo's case, the feds were able to criminalize politics as usual, and the media and a jury went along with it, deciding that it was a felony for Fumo to fix up an office building, tear down a nuisance bar, rent a car, and put gas in that car. All while the Inquirer portrayed Fumo as Satan.
It was, as I say in the book, a "cartoon version of reality." So in Target: The Senator, I spent a lot of time explaining who Fumo was, how he got that way, and what the taxpayers lost when the feds staged their moral crusade that took him out.
As Harvey A. Silverglate, the author of Three Felonies A Day; How the Feds Target the Innocent, writes in the foreword:
“Target: The Senator brilliantly lays out the federal prosecutorial jihad against one of the most powerful — and colorful — state politicians in recent memory, Vincent J. Fumo . . . . [Cipriano] has interjected truth as a weapon against raw governmental abuse of power and news media gullibility. [He] deserves our thanks for peeling back the curtain on the epic destruction of Fumo, and revealing how it was done. Our job now is to read this important book with care and then to engage, as activist citizens, in an effort to reform the system."
If a rich and powerful guy like Fumo can't get a fair trial, it's bad news for the rest of us.
Another good reason to read the book: nobody who read the Inquirer's Fumo coverage has any idea of what really happened in that case. No, Fumo was not convicted of extorting PECO and Verizon; he was never even charged with that.
What happened in the Fumo case was that the feds, who, recently declassified FBI records show, had targeted Fumo for destruction since the 1970s, were able, with the help of the gullible and irresponsible hometown newspaper, to team up and destroy a guy, along with the presumption of innocence, and a defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial.
In the book, I had access to thousands of pages of previously confidential grand jury transcripts and FBI "302s," stuff the Inquirer never saw, so I could explain exactly how the feds pulled it off. Fumo, of course, also tells his side of the story for the first time.
The hometown newspaper's pro-prosecution bias, even when the prosecutor and that prosecution is proven to be corrupt, is laid out elsewhere on this blog in the Newsweek cover story this week about Philadelphia Police Detective Joe Walsh, and his incredible voyage through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's sex abuse prosecutions.
In this case, a district attorney, Rufus Seth Williams, who is now sitting in solitary confinement in the federal lockup on Market Street, ran with a false prosecution featuring a fraudulent crime victim -- Billy Doe, AKA Danny Gallagher.
In this case, which is still ongoing, four innocent men were sent to jail, one died there, and we had the amazing specter of the detective who led that investigation for the D.A.'s office, Walsh, coming forward publicly to say it was all a lie, and that he caught Danny Gallagher lying. And when he tried to tell the prosecutor that Gallagher was a liar, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, she replied, "You're killing my case."
Walsh's story is all laid out in two court cases as well as a 12-page affidavit filed in Court. It's a story that's on the cover of Newsweek from coast to coast, and the blind people at the Inquirer still refuse to print a word about it. Amazing.
Instead, in the news columns and editorial pages of the Inquirer, the story is always the same, rapacious priests and innocent victims, as illustrated in Maria Panaritis's recent opus on the lasting damage done by Father James Bryzyski.
I'm not saying that isn't a story. It sure is. But so is Detective Walsh coming forward, and so is Danny Gallagher being revealed as a complete fraud. A guy who sent four innocent men to jail, and stole $5 million from the Catholic Church in a civil settlement for his imaginary pain and suffering.
|Courtroom sketch by Susan Schary|
By Ralph Cipriano
In the back of a prison bus, a U.S. marshal was sitting in a steel cage, armed with a shotgun. He was watching over forty men dressed in blue paper jumpsuits and shackled in handcuffs, belly chains, and leg irons.
John Gotti's mob legacy.
Story from realclearlife.com can be read HERE.
"It's a dark comedy" -- George Anastasia
By Ralph Cipriano
Attention Philadelphia: your newly-elected District Attorney, Progressive Larry Krasner, is already getting started on his new job, but that may not be a good thing.
According to a Nov. 29th mass email sent out to hundreds of employees in the D.A.'s office, Krasner sought and was granted permission by interim D.A. Kelley Hodge to have his transition team review the personnel files of those hundreds of employees, presumably to help decide who's going and who's staying in a Krasner administration. The review according to the mass email, was supposed to be conducted last week, but one union official, FOP President John McNesby, said he did not believe that any of the reviews had actually been done yet.
That may be because of an ongoing ethical problem. Krasner, a longtime civil rights lawyer who's sued the city's police department 75 times, and provided pro-bono representation for the likes of ACT UP, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy Philly, isn't officially the D.A. yet, and he won't be until he's sworn in on Jan. 2nd.
Krasner, who could not be reached for comment, apparently has tasked a lawyer from the firm that he is now of counsel to, Patricia Pierce of Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt & Flores, to help review those personnel files at the D.A.'s office. Krasner also has been seen visiting the D.A.'s office at Penn Square a few times, along with members of his transition team, who supposedly have been given office space by the interim D.A. The reaction among some employees at the D.A.'s office has been paranoia.
"People were freaking out," said one source familiar with the process. "I think everybody's worried about being fired."
But did Krasner, who got elected thanks to donations of nearly $1.7 million from billionaire George Soros, jump the gun with his request to review those personnel files? Yes says one expert on legal ethics.
"I don't think he has a right to do that yet," said Samuel C. Stretton, a criminal defense lawyer who has tried hundreds of cases, and lectures and writes frequently about legal and judicial ethics.
According to Stretton, Krasner's transition team can't legally review the personnel files at the D.A.'s office without a court order, or the consent of the employees. But from the way the Nov. 29th mass email to the employees was written, saying no to Progressive Larry did not appear to be an option.
On Nov. 29th, a mass email went out from First Deputy District Attorney John Delaney, addressed to all "D.A. domino users." Under the subject line "transition," Delaney wrote:
"D.A, Elect Krasner has asked that his transition team review the personnel files of office employees. The District Attorney has agreed to his request, and that review will begin next week. If you as an employee of the office would like to inspect your personnel file, in accord with the office policy, you may do so tomorrow or Friday. The files are in the small conference room 1840, at the end of the middle hallway on the 18th floor, opposite the large conference room. A member of the human resources department will be present and will provide the file to you. You may not add to or subtract from the file . . .
"To enable an orderly inspection, the following times are strongly suggested. If you can not make your suggested time, you may appear at another time. If you wish to inspect your file but cannot do so tomorrow or Friday, please contact Kathy Martin."
That's kind of funny because Martin, a former first assistant district attorney under former D.A. Seth Williams, before Williams was indicted and sent to jail, has already turned in her resignation, and will be leaving next month.
The files, according to the email, were viewable from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday Nov. 30th and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday Dec. 1st.
Stretton says he understands Krasner's desire for expediency.
"He's not the D.A. yet, but he will be shortly," Stretton said. "I'm sure he [Krasner] has the best intentions," Stretton said. "But, he's coming into an office with a lot of dissension so let's do it the right way."
The right way, Stretton said, would have been to either wait until he's sworn in, or seek the consent of the employees, and give them the option of saying no to a personnel file review.
"The new district attorney doesn't want to start off by breaking the law," Stretton said. "His job is to uphold the law. It's a little disappointing to me that Larry Krasner is off to a bad start."
When told some employees had complained about the review of their personnel files, Stretton said, "I think people have a right to be offended."
Asked about how this development bodes for the new Krasner administration, Stretton said, "This is not a good omen."
Nor is the way Krasner has handled Big Trial's request for an explanation of what Krasner is up to down at the D.A.'s office.
Cameron Kline, a spokesperson for the D.A.'s office, did not respond to a request for comment last week.
Lawyers at Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt & Flores also did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the folks at krasnertradition.com, the website set up by Progressive Larry that promises "a new era in criminal justice."
So the newly-elected D.A. isn't talking; neither is Interim D.A. Kelley Hodge. But former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who served as the city's top law enforcement officer for 20 years, said she didn't set foot in the D.A.'s office until the day she was sworn in.
"You can certainly quote me that I didn't handle it that way, and you can bet your boots Seth Williams didn't set foot in that office until he was sworn in," Abraham wrote in an email.
Pierce is a law partner at the firm that Krasner is now a part of.
On Sept. 6, 2017, Krasner merged his firm of Krasner and Associates with the Greenblatt firm and "will be joining the firm on an Of Counsel basis," according to the Greenblatt firm's website.
"We are so proud to have Mr. Krasner and the other members of Kranser and Associations join our firm," the website said. "We are thrilled that he has selected us to be the firm he wishes to transition his clients to while he pursues his goal of becoming Philadelphia's next District Attorney. We look forward to working with Mr. Krasner in these upcoming months and to easing his transition back into public life. As importantly, we also look forward to serving his clients."
John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he was aware of the review of the personnel files, but he did not think the reviews had been done yet.
"The transition team was granted access to review the attorneys' files for any discipline or negative performance info," McNesby said. "Each had to sign a confidentiality waiver that they do not discuss it."