Thursday, December 1, 2016

Convicted Killer Testifies That Verdi Protected Strip Club

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The government's latest star witness in the Dominic Verdi corruption trial showed up in court today wearing a prison jump suit.

Other featured cooperating witnesses in the Verdi trial this week included a husband-and-wife team of former night club owners who have pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion, owing the feds as much as $1 million in back taxes, fines, and penalties.

But John Pettit had them beat. The former strip club manager was convicted this past June of third-degree murder after he punched a drunk patron in the head during a 2009 fight outside the Oasis Gentlemen's Club.  John Koons, 31, suffered a depressed skull fracture from the punch, and when he fell backward, he fractured his skull. He died two weeks after the brawl, without ever regaining consciousness.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dominic Verdi To Take Stand In His Own Corruption Trial

By George Anastasia
For BigTrial.net

A federal prosecutor has spent most of this week building the case against Dominic
Verdi, the former Philadelphia Deputy Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections charged with playing fast and loose with rules and ethics in a quid-pro-quo scam built in part around his hidden ownership in a beer distribution company.

On Friday Verdi, who resigned his city post back in February 2011 amid reports of a far-reaching corruption investigation, will get a chance to tell his side of the story.

The South Philadelphia politico is expected to take the stand in his own defense in the trial which began in U.S. District Court on Monday and could go to the jury early next week. The prosecution is expected to rest its case on Thursday, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Wolf who over the past two days has called a series of witnesses, including bar owners and law enforcement investigators, who have offered sometimes conflicting testimony about the 62-year-old former city official.

Government Witnesses At Verdi Trial Caught At Baggage Check

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The government's first two witnesses in the corruption trial of former Deputy L&I Commissioner Dominic Verdi came to the witness stand yesterday loaded with baggage.

First up was Susan Callueng, a former nightclub owner who was red-faced and dabbing her eyes with tissues.

Callueng's story was that whenever she needed a permit for her now defunct nightclub, Blurr in Old City, she used to go see Verdi at his office at 9th and Spring Garden.  She'd hand him a check made out to the city of Philadelphia for whatever the permit cost, whether it was $250 or $315. And then she would hand Verdi an envelope stuffed with $1,000 in cash.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Former L&I Deputy Commissioner Dominic Verdi Goes On Trial

By Ralph Cipriano

As head of the city's Nuisance Task Force, Dominic Verdi wore a bulletproof vest. Whenever, he was leading an after-hours raid on a crack house, nuisance bar, or an unlicensed massage parlor, he was always the first guy through the door.

In thousands of raids over the years, Verdi, the former deputy commissioner of the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections, gained a reputation around town as the go-to guy for law enforcement --state, local or federal -- whenever it came to shutting down illegal operations around the city.

"He put himself in harm's way," then City Councilman James Kenney said admiringly about Verdi in 2000.

But Monday, on the 13th floor of the federal courthouse, it was Verdi who was accused of breaking the law. Federal prosecutors charged that while Verdi was leading late-night rights all over town, he was hiding a conflict of interest -- a part ownership he had purchased in Chappy's Beer, Butts and Bets, a beer distributorship formerly located at 2825 S.17th St. in South Philadelphia.

The rest of the story can be read here.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

No Reservatons At Ristorante Merlino

Merlino's WineglassBy George Anastasia
[Reprinted with permission from Gang Land News]

If you picked up a snazzy Merlino's wineglass on your last trip to Boca, don't throw it away. It may soon be a collector's item. It looks like Joey Merlino is out of the restaurant business.

Reports from Boca Raton, where his posh, eponymous nightspot was located, indicate that the restaurant is closed and the property is for sale. In June, Skinny Joey denied a Miami Herald report that Merlino's had gone belly up. He insisted that his joint was shutting down for the summer season and would reopen in the fall.

Who knows? That may have been the plan. But that was before the racketeering indictment that snared him and 45 co-defendants for being part of what federal prosecutors have dubbed an East Coast LCN Enterprise.

Monday, November 14, 2016

An Italian News Org Takes A Look At The Philadelphia Mob

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Rolling Stone's All Too Perfect Stories About "Jackie" And "Billy"

Sabrina Rubin Erdely, her editor, and her lawyers
By Ralph Cipriano
For BigTrial.net

In his closing statement to the jury, Tom Clare, a lawyer for the plaintiff in the Rolling Stone libel case, talked about the fraudulent gang rape of "Jackie" by a bunch of imaginary frat boys.

"It had all the elements of a perfect story," Clare told the jury, according to The Washington Post. "And when something appears too perfect it usually is."

On Friday, a jury in Charlottesville, VA, decided that Rolling Stone and its reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, had not only defamed Nicole Eramo, a former administrator at the University of Virginia, but acted with actual malice. That meant the jury believed that Erdely and the magazine's editors knew that Erdely's 2014 story was false but they went ahead and published it anyway, with reckless disregard for the truth.

After the trial was over, Rolling Stone apologized a second time for their since-retracted story about Jackie. But the magazine has never apologized for another all-too-perfect story Erdely wrote in 2011 about a Philadelphia altar boy dubbed "Billy Doe" who supposedly was raped in savage attacks by two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Have The Feds Dropped The Ball In The Merlino Case?

By George Anastasia
For BigTrial.net

They don't always play by the rules . . . even when they're dealing with members of their own team.

Federal authorities in New York may have cut Skinny Joey Merlino a break by insisting -- over the objections of Philadelphia and Florida law enforcement agencies --that Merlino be included in a sweeping but vaguely drawn racketeering indictment now pending in Manhattan.

Read the story here:

 

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