Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"I Stood Up For A Hero"

Michael J. Diamondstein's closing in the rogue cops case.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Parade Down Broad Street For Six Defendants

By Ralph Cipriano

They may not have their jobs back yet or their paychecks.

But the six defendants in the so-called rogue cops case are getting a parade down Broad Street.

So says James J. Binns, now in his tenth year as president and CEO of the Hero Thrill Show. It's an annual event that raises money for college scholarships to benefit the sons and daughters of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

On Saturday Oct. 10, former Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman and John Speiser will be grand marshals of the 61st annual Hero Thrill Show, Binns said. The parade will begin at 11 a.m. at City Hall. The six former narcotics cops and their families will ride in six white Bentley convertibles in a "Heroes Parade" down Broad Street.

The parade ends at the Wells Fargo Center, where the thrill show will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Last year's event attracted 50,000 people. This year, Binns hopes to triple that number.

Binns was the defense lawyer for Michael Spicer, the only one of the defendants to take the stand. After a seven-week trial, the six former members of the Narcotics Field Unit were found not guilty on all 47 charges contained in a 26-count federal RICO indictment.

"These heroes have been vilified in the press and it's time that they were recognized as the heroes they are, Binns said. Asked if he expects any blowback over elevating a bunch of guys denounced by the police commissioner, the mayor and the U.S. Attorney, Binns responded, "I don't see how any reasonable fair-minded individual could have the slightest doubt about their innocence if you were there and heard the testimony."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lynn's Lawyer Seeks Return Visit to Superior Court Panel; District Attorney Objects, Claims It's "Judge-Shopping"

By Ralph Cipriano

Thomas A. Bergstrom, the defense lawyer for Msgr. William J. Lynn, is seeking a return visit before a panel of three state Superior Court judges who previously ruled that his client should get out of jail immediately.

Bergstrom also is seeking permission to brief that Superior Court panel on other appeal issues that the defense lawyer hopes will get his client a new trial.

In response, top appeal lawyers for District Attorney R. Seth Williams argued that Bergstrom was "judge-shopping." Furthermore, the D.A. asserted that the state Superior Court panel of judges that previously ruled on the Lynn case had made a "material misrepresentation of the law." Because of that material misrepresentation, the district attorney argued in his brief, it would constitute an "appearance of impropriety" if the same panel were allowed to rehear the case.

On Wednesday, Bergstrom filed a reply brief that claimed the D.A.'s accusation of judge-shopping was "unfounded and insulting." Regarding the alleged material misrepresentation of the law, Bergstrom wrote that the charge was "disturbing." He argued that the Superior Court panel of judges was best-suited to rehear the Lynn case because they are already familiar with it.

Jack McMahon Rips Police Commissioner Ramsey A New One; Then He Dumps On Inky Editorial Board For Bogus Mind-Reading

By Ralph Cipriano

Jack McMahon, the lawyer for former Officer Brian Reynolds, has blasted Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey for his "ugly arrogance" and "blatant disregard" for the constitutional rights of the six defendants in the rogue cops case acquitted last week on all 47 racketeering charges.

If that wasn't enough, McMahon, a former prosecutor, ripped Ramsey for being a coward, "a man without a backbone," as well as an embarrassment to the city of Philadelphia and its police department.

In the rogue cops trial that lasted seven weeks, McMahon functioned as the lead defense lawyer, tearing apart a bunch of drug dealers as well as former Officer Jeffrey Walker, the government's star witness against his former fellow members of the narcotics field unit.

McMahon is pissed because ten months ago, when the defendants were indicted, Ramsey, playing judge and jury, pronounced them all guilty at a press conference. The rogue cops case was "one of the worst cases of corruption that I have ever heard" in his 40 years as a cop, Ramsey said. To make it worse, Ramsey told reporters that he was going to destroy the former officers' badges.

Then, after a jury found the defendants not guilty on all charges, Ramsey didn't offer any apologies. Instead the police commissioner who fired the defendants said they would have to go through arbitration to get their jobs back.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Closing Argument That Had A Courtroom In Tears

James J. Binns' closing in the rogue cops case.

Friday, May 15, 2015

How To Reconstruct A Train Wreck

By Ralph Cipriano

When there's a catastrophe like a train derailment, guys like Steven M. Schorr get paid to reconstruct what happened.

Schorr, a licensed professional engineer from Abington, is the guy who goes to an accident scene packing a high-definition laser scanner to map all the debris.

It doesn't matter whether engineers like Schorr are investigating a plane crash, a multi-vehicle car accident, or a train derailment, the methodology is the same.

"The reconstruction of a collision is an application of the laws of physics to the physical evidence left as result of a collision," Schorr said.

To that end, the job of the National Transportation Safety Board is to not make any judgments right away,  Schorr said, but rather to "collect the physical evidence." That's why NTSB member Robert Sumwalt recently bopped Mayor Nutter for his declaration that the "idiot" engineer of the Amtrak train was at fault because he was allegedly doing 106 mph on a curve with a speed limit of 50.

"You're not going to hear the NTSB making comments like that," Sumwalt said right after Nutter's announcement. "We want to get the facts before we start making judgments."

And right now, the NTSB is collecting evidence.

They want to map "where everything ends up," Schorr said. "The points of rest of the train pieces, the location of the debris path." The spots along the accent route where occupants were ejected, as well as all the damage done to the train. All that physical evidence can sometimes be used to make a 3D animation to recreate the accident, Schorr said.

"Once you figure out how the accident happened, you can then attempt to figure out why it happened," Schorr said.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jury Acquits Six Narcotics Cops On All Charges

Perry Betts hugs daughter Samantha; Photo: Michael Bryant/The Inquirer
By Ralph Cipriano

It was a complete repudiation of the government's racketeering case against six former narcotics officers.

Forty-seven times, the jury foreman today announced a verdict on forty-seven charges contained in twenty-six separate counts. Forty-seven times, the jury foreman said, "Not Guilty."

When the jury foreman sat down, there was a roar of approval from  courtroom spectators that could be heard out in the hallway. After a ten-month legal ordeal, all six defendants were getting ready to walk out of the federal courthouse as free men, after their electronic ankle bracelets were removed.

The last defendant to leave was former Officer Thomas Liciardello, who has spent the past ten months in solitary confinement while the other defendants were out on bail.

After the verdict, Liciardello and the other defendants literally stopped traffic out on Market Street while supporters, including FOP President John McNesby, pulled over in trucks and SUVs, to honk their horns in solidarity.

"I just want to thank the jury; they believed in us," a pale Liciardello told a media throng as he stood beside his wife, also a police officer. "I just want to get on with my life."

Support From An Unlikely Source

By George Anastasia

Mobster-turned-government-witness Ron Previte, who was a Philadelphia police officer for 12 years, was digging into a lunch of veal parmigiana and penne pasta in a restaurant near Atlantic City this afternoon when he was informed by that six former narcotics cops had been found not guilty in their federal corruption trial.

"Beautiful," said Previte. "Good for them."

Previte didn't know any of the six defendants, but he knows about police work and despite his checkered past, he still takes pride in the time he spent on the streets wearing a blue uniform.  

"I did some bad things but I was still a good cop," Previte said. "People don't understand. These same people who were calling these guys corrupt, badmouthing police, when they were getting slapped around by their husband or when their drug dealing neighbors were shooting at one another, the first person they called was a cop."


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