Friday, April 4, 2014

Billy Doe's "Fantasy Of Sexual Abuse"

The alleged victim
By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

A lawyer for convicted child rapist Bernard Shero is seeking a new trial based on "newly discovered evidence" of contradictory and false statements made by alleged victim "Billy Doe" to his many drug counselors.

Doe, now 25, is the former 10-year-old altar boy who claimed at two historic Philadelphia sex abuse trials that he was raped by two priests as well as Shero, a former Catholic school teacher. It was Doe's testimony that also sent Msgr. William J. Lynn to jail for 18 months before an appeals court overturned Lynn's conviction.

The "newly discovered evidence" surfaced during a civil case that Doe has filed against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Doe, a former drug addict who used marijuana, magic mushrooms, pills, LSD and heroin, has been treated at 23 drug rehabs. He's also been arrested a half-dozen times, including one bust, subsequently dismissed, for possession with intent to distribute 56 bags of heroin. In the civil case, Billy Doe is seeking money from the archdiocese and a host of other defendants for alleged damage to his mental health. So a judge in the civil case has ordered the defendant's lawyers to turn over Billy Doe's medical records from his various drug rehabs.

What did defense lawyers discover when they got a look at those records? That Billy Doe, previously known for making wildly varying allegations to authorities, told his drug counselors four different stories in just one year about allegedly being abused. And none of those stories Billy told his drug counselors match the story he told two Philadelphia juries about being raped by two priests and a school teacher.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Star Witness In State Supreme Court Justice's "False Light" Suit Against The Philadelphia Inquirer: Inky Publisher Bob Hall

Inquirer Publisher Robert J. Hall
By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

State Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery and his wife, Lise Rapaport, have filed a lawsuit against The Philadelphia Inquirer, claiming that a series of articles on referral fees paid to Rapaport portrayed the justice and his wife in a false light, and also defamed them.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court by Dion G. Rassias of The Beasley Firm, the sponsor of this blog, is unusual because it quotes as the star witness against the defendants Robert J. "Bob" Hall, publisher of the Inquirer.

The lawsuit pans the first article in question, published on on March 4, 2013, as "heinous, untrue and savage in its portrayal of the Plaintiffs." The article was so bad," Rassias writes, "that even the publisher of the newspaper, Robert J. Hall, had to admit under oath that he was so appalled by the story, and the lengths The Inquirer had gone to in order to 'make Justice McCaffery and his wife look bad,' he called [Inquirer Editor William K.] Marimow ... and expressed deep concern over the placement of the article."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Judge Buckwalter Hears Oral Arguments In Fumo V. USA

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

On the 14th floor of the federal courthouse on Tuesday, Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter was refereeing another fight between the U.S. government and former Pennsylvania state Senator Vincent J. Fumo.

Buckwalter was the judge who presided over the United States of America v. Vincent J. Fumo. The five-month trial  ended on March 16, 2009 with the former state senator being convicted on 137 counts of fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and filing a false tax return.

Yesterday, Buckwalter was hearing oral arguments in the case of Vincent J. Fumo v. United States of America. In the sequel, Fumo is challenging the IRS over the propriety of the agency hitting him with an extremely rare "jeopardy assessment." Fumo also alleges that the U.S. Attorney's office colluded with the IRS to seek revenge on him.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jury Deadlocks On "Father Andy;" Defense Lawyer Jumps Ship

AP/Matt Rourke
By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

Around 1:30 p.m. today, the jury in the Father Andrew McCormick sex abuse case sent a note to the judge saying they were hopelessly deadlocked.

Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright told the jury to give it one more try, but it was to no avail. Shortly after 4 p.m., the judge declared a mistrial and dismissed the jury after four and a half days of fruitless deliberations.

The day began with the court stenographer reading back more than an hour of testimony from the alleged victim. Meanwhile, the alleged victim sat in the second row of the courtroom, listening to his own description of the alleged attack by "Father Andy." Soon, the alleged victim and his mother were sobbing and bowing their heads, while almost using up a box of tissues.

Guilty Pleas And $3.7 Million In Forfietures For Mastronardo Gambling Ring

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

First came the guilty pleas.

Now comes the cash.

A federal judge yesterday entered a preliminary forfeiture order that will have gentlemen gambler Joe Vito Mastronardo forking over $3 million seized by authorities during an investigation that targeted his international bookmaking operation. More than $1.2 million was found stashed in PVC pipes that had been buried in the backyard of his posh Italianate mini-mansion in the Meadowbrook section of Abington Township.

The government will get an additional $700,00 from co-defendants in the case, including Mastronardo's brother John. The authorities also get to keep Joe Vito's 2001 Cadillac DeVille and a 2009 Nissan Altima used by another key figure in the bookmaking operation, according to the preliminary court order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Jan DuBois.

The forfeitures come in the wake of a global guilty plea entered by Mastronardo and 12 co-defendants in January. As part of that plea deal, prosecutors have agreed to drop a money-laundering charge against Joanna Mastronardo, Joe Vito's wife. She was the only defendant not charged with racketeering.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Jury Wants A Read Back On Alleged Victim's Testimony

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

The jury in the Father Andrew McCormick sex abuse case asked for a read back on the alleged victim's direct testimony, as well as his cross-examination.

On their third day of deliberations, the jury also asked the judge to repeat her instructions on how to deal with the alleged victim's testimony against "Father Andy."

The testimony amounted to some 100 pages from the alleged victim's hour on the witness stand. Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp volunteered to read the testimony to the jury, but defense attorney William J. Brennan didn't think that was such a great idea.

"I think we would have an objection on that," Brennan told Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Nuns Pray While Judge Reads Sex Charges

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

At 10:15 a.m. this morning in Courtroom 1102, Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright read the details of the sex crimes that Father Andrew McCormick is charged with.

The jury, beginning their second day of deliberations, had asked the judge for a read back on the charges.

Judge Bright began with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, which in this case allegedly involved oral sex with a minor. "The slightest degree of penetration is sufficient," the judge told the jury. "He does not have to emit any semen." It took the judge ten minutes to detail the elements of that crime and four other charges against the priest: sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault of a child, and corrupting the morals of a minor.

In the second row of the courtroom, four nuns in full habits weren't listening to the gory details. Instead, with rosary beads in hand, they were silently praying for "Father Andy."

"It's atrocious to have it associated with him," Sister Jacinta Miryam Hanley said of the sex crimes that Father Andy is accused of. The alleged victim in this case is a former 10-year-old altar boy who said that 17 years ago, Father Andy assaulted him in the rectory of St. John Cantius Church in Bridesburg.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Bentley, A Yacht And Piles of Cash; A Key Witness Describes The Lavish Lifestyle Of Salvatore Pelullo

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

He's been on the witness stand for a week and during that time he's offered the jury a behind-the-scenes look at what authorities allege was the $12 million ripoff of FirstPlus Financial.

He's admitted to falsifying records, padding expense accounts and "moving money around" to make it appear as if it came from or was going to legitimate business deals.

He sailed on the $850,000 yacht that was bought with cash from the scam, he said. He arranged some of the paperwork for the purchase of a $217,000 Bentley Continental GT that also figures in the fraud. He fabricated records to make a $40,000 trip to Europe appear like a business expense. And he set up "sideways accounts" that allowed his boss to funnel money to two mistresses.

Those were just some of the things that he saw and did while working for Salvatore Pelullo before, during and after the takeover of FirstPlus, a troubled Texas-based mortgage company, said Cory Leshner, who described himself as Pelullo's "personal assistant." 

"I thought of Mr. Pelullo as a father figure," Leshner told the jury. "And he thought of me as a son." And that, he said at another point, "made me feel proud...I was willing to do whatever he asked."

 

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