Thursday, May 26, 2016

Senator Casey Said No To "Ambassador" Herb

Senator Casey at the Chaka trial/ Swanson
By Ralph Cipriano

He's a former clothing store magnate and lobbyist who gravitates to politicians the way a groupie chases rock stars.

In the past decade, he's given away more than $100,000 to some of his favorite Democrats. But what he really wanted to do was become a U.S. ambassador.

Herb Vederman, Ed Rendell's former unpaid deputy mayor, was also best buddies with Congressman Chaka Fattah.

Herb and Chaka were so close that for years, Fattah pushed Vederman for an ambassador's post. The congressman went as far as to sign and hand-deliver a letter to President Obama on Oct. 30, 2010, advocating for Vederman's appointment as U.S. Ambassador to anywhere.

But standing in the way of Vederman's lifelong goal was U.S. Senator Bob Casey. The Pennsylvania Democrat made a VIP appearance at the Chaka Fattah trial today to explain how he declined Congressman Fattah's request to support Vederman's candidacy for an ambassadorship in 2008, even though Casey was happy to continue to accept campaign donations from Vederman. Herb was sure disappointed about not getting that ambassadorship, the senator testified, and he expressed that disappointment twice directly to Casey.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Another Cooperating Witness Fingers Chaka

By Ralph Cipriano

Mark M. Lee, a lawyer for Congressman Chaka Fattah, asked Greg Naylor about his negotiations with the government. And what the feds told Naylor he could expect to gain from his guilty plea, cooperation with the government, and his testimony in court today against the congressman.

"I don't believe they [the feds] had any interest in what I had to gain," Naylor bluntly replied. His discussions with the government prior to his guilty plea, he said, was "not a negotiation." Not after he got caught lying to the FBI.

Naylor, a retired political operative who was once close to Fattah, testified in federal court today about how he handed out about $200,000 in cash on Election Day, known as "walking around money," when the congressman was running for mayor of Philadelphia back in 2007. And how he wrote more than $20,000 in checks to cover the college tuition bills of Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr.

The payments, which originally derived from campaign cash, came from Naylor's political consulting firm, Sydney Lei & Associates Inc., and were usually made on a monthly basis to Drexel University and Sallie Mae, the student loan corporation, Naylor testified.

Why did he steal campaign money to write checks to cover Chip Fattah's college loans, and then try to cover it up afterwards with a phony paper trail?

"The congressman asked if I would help out," Naylor explained in direct testimony under the questioning of Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray. Naylor said he kept writing checks for four years until the congressman told him, "We're done, we're good."

Pill Doctor Pecks Away At FBI Agent

By Ralph Cipriano

It could be the dream of any accused felon who's ever been busted by the feds.

Turn the tables on your accusers. Put them on the witness stand under oath. And then make them squirm while you play lawyer and get to ask all the questions you want.

Dr. William O'Brien 3rd was living the dream today. For the second straight day, the accused pill doctor who's representing himself at his criminal trial in federal court had FBI Agent Diana Huffman stuck on the witness stand for more grueling hours of his amateur cross-examination.

For two hours on Tuesday and more than five hours today, O'Brien dragged Huffman through the minutiae of the case, going over one patient file after another. When he wasn't pecking the FBI agent to death, the pill doctor was talking up his own credentials, showing off his medical knowledge, and making speeches to the jury.

Meanwhile, Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Beth Leahy was growing increasingly irritated with O'Brien's act. And Judge Nitza Quinones was getting more work than a baseball umpire because the prosecutor was objecting to virtually every question O'Brien asked. At times, Leahy objected to three questions in  a row from the doctor, objections that were all sustained by the judge.

None of which phased O'Brien, who didn't act like he was ready to give up the spotlight any time soon.

"Your Honor, the defendant is testifying," the prosecutor yelled after O'Brien finished another speech to the jury.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pagan Leader Rants About PIll Mill

By George Anastasia

Sam Nocille was angry.

A leader of the outlaw motorcycle club known as the Pagans, Nocille was in prison in 2013 while associates continued to profit from a pill mill operation authorities say he helped set in motion.

The problem was that those associates had stopped kicking up to Nocille who had been receiving about $2,000-week, his share from the illegal street sales of oxycodone, methadone, Xanax and Percocet.

"All of a sudden he's changing the whole fuckin' thing," Nocille said in a phone call to his wife in which he complained about Peter Marradino, an associate who was part of the scheme. "It's not gonna happen...The door was opened for him due to me."

In another call, Nocille said of Marradino, "I'm gonna split his fuckin' head."

The Nocille tapes (all prison phone calls are recorded)  were played along with several others today in the trial of Dr. William O'Brien 3d whose medical offices, authorities allege, were the nerve center of a multi-million dollar pill mill operation set up by Nocille.

"Even that fat motherfucker Bill in Levitttown is gonna get it," Nocille said in another rant recorded in January 2014. One of O'Brien's office was in Levittown.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Pill Doctor Regrets Asking Undercover FBI Agent For A Blow Job But Says He's Innocent Of Drug Charges

By George Anastasia

Dr. William O'Brien, charged with running a "pill mill" that dumped millions of dollars of illegal drugs onto the streets of Philadelphia and the suburbs, told a federal jury this afternoon that it was wrong for him to ask an undercover FBI agent posing as a patient for a blow job.

"I'm embarrassed and ashamed that I asked a patient for oral sex," O'Brien, who is acting as his own defense attorney, said in an opening statement to a federal court jury that will decide his fate. "I shouldn't have done it as a physician. I shouldn't have done it as a man. It was wrong."

But that was the only concession the doctor made today during a 45-minute address to the jury at the start of  his trial. For most of that time, O'Brien attacked the prosecution, claiming the government's case was built on lies and misinformation.

"They're not going to be able to prove it," O'Brien said of the charges of conspiracy, drug dealing, money-laundering and bankruptcy fraud outlined in a 140-count indictment brought against him and 10 co-defendants. "An indictment is only one side of the story...I finally get to tell my side."

All of O'Brien's co-defendants have pleaded guilty. Several are expected to testify for the government, including his ex-wife/girlfriend with whom he was living at the time of his arrest in January 2015. The jury will also hear from investigators and three exotic dancers who have said they exchanged sex for prescriptions for oxycodone, methadone and other controlled substances.

Unlike the undercover FBI agent, the dancers said they agreed to the sex-for-scripts proposal that prosecutors allege was part of a broader drug operation run out of O'Brien's offices and set up by members of the Pagans, an outlaw motorcycle gang.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Doctor's Office Served Pagans, Pills And Prostitutes

By George Anastasia

He was a doctor who federal authorities say turned his practice into an illegal drug distribution center for a group of outlaw bikers.

He charged $200 per visit but seldom bothered with a medical exam.

Instead, the feds say, he wrote thousands of prescriptions for oxycodone, methadone, valium and Percocet, drugs that quickly ended up on the streets. While most of his "patients" paid cash, several dancers who worked at area "gentleman's clubs" exchanged sex for scripts.

Over a two-year period, authorities say, Dr. William O'Brien 3d pocketed $1.8 million while his "patients," many of them members and associates of the Pagans, generated millions more in street sales. Some were pulling in as much as $10,000 a-week, according to court documents.

This week in U.S. District Court a jury will begin hearing testimony in the case against O'Brien; a case based on a two-year federal investigation that revolves around Pagans, pills and prostitutes.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Roundup

Joseph J. Talafous
A weekly tab of what's going on in the courts.
By Logan Beck For
New Jersey Attorney General:
A New Jersey lawyer has been indicted with a laundry list of charges after it was discovered that he stole over $1 million from his clients between October 2004 and May 2015 through his attorney trust or business account. He has since been disbarred.
Joseph J. Talafous Jr., 53, of Tom’s River, NJ was indicted for collectively stealing $1,528,022 from a variety of different clients, including $402,418 from a trust fund for a young boy whose father had passed away, as well as from clients who had passed away themselves. Talafous faces multiple charges of money laundering, theft by unlawful taking, theft by failure to make required disposition of property, misapplication of entrusted property,  theft by deception, as well as filing fraudulent state income tax returns.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cool Hand Lindenfeld

By Ralph Cipriano

He never raised his voice, and he never lost his cool.

Today in federal court, Thomas Lindenfeld, the government's star witness in the corruption case against Congressman Chaka Fattah, was cross-examined by three veteran defense lawyers, who did their best to rile him.

They yelled, they baited the witness, they tossed insults at him.

Through it all, Lindenfeld never took offense. The guy who worked presidential campaigns on behalf of the DNC, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, however, typically refused to answer a yes or no question with a simple yes or no answer. Instead, the government's star witness stayed relentlessly  on message, using every question from a defense attorney as another opportunity to restate his talking points.

By the end of the day, he was barely ruffled, and hadn't backed off any part of his story. And that had to be bad news for Chaka Fattah.


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