Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How Mohammed & The Fatboy Got Caught With 225 Pounds Of Marijuana But Beat The Rap [Thanks To D.A. Seth Williams]

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

On Jan. 17, 2012, the Philadelphia Police Department's Narcotics Field Unit South tailed a suspected drug dealer to a garage, where they confiscated 53 pounds of hydroponic marijuana with a street value of $481,240.

When the cops interviewed the suspect, Mohammed Samhan, 26, of Los Angeles, he decided to cooperate and give up another marijuana dealer. The cops subsequently raided the home of Kit "Fatboy" Poon, 41, of Northeast Philadelphia. This time, they confiscated 172 pounds of hydroponic marijuana with a street value of $1,565,420.

Faced with serious jail time, Poon decided that he too wanted to cooperate. He told the cops he knew about an even bigger future marijuana shipment due to arrive by tractor-trailer.

With the two accused drug dealers in custody, Lt. Robert Otto, supervisor of the narcs, called Chief Jan McDermott of the District Attorney's Dangerous Drug Offenders Unit, and requested that McDermott conduct "proffers" with both suspects. [A proffer is an interview where, in exchange for information about criminal activity, a prosecutor agrees not to use that information against the suspect.]

That's when the system broke down. Two confidential police memorandums obtained by Big Trial lay out the details of what's been described in court papers as a "petty and childish feud" between the narcs and the Philly D.A.'s office. It was an old fashioned turf battle over who sat in on proffers, which law enforcement agency would collect drug forfeiture money, and who got credit for major drug busts.

Seth Williams put an end to the feud when he announced, via a letter leaked to the media -- without a shred of evidence to back him up -- that the district attorney's office would no longer prosecute any drug cases involving Lt. Otto or five of his officers.  The narcs and their supervisor were subsequently transferred out of the narcotics unit.

Meanwhile, what happened to the two accused drug dealers who got caught red-handed with 225 pounds of marijuana worth more than $2 million? They were set free by the district attorney, along with 800 other suspects previously arrested by the narcs, in what amounted to a holiday for drug dealers.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Wiseguy's Guide To Saving Atlantic City

By George Anastasia

Paul D'Amato sat in the living room of his Ventnor home dressed in pajamas, slippers and a bathrobe.

It was about 3 o'clock on a spring afternoon in 1978. D'Amato said he had gotten up a few hours earlier. His body, after years of running one of the most popular joints in the city, was still on nightclub time.

The 500 Club, an Atlantic City landmark on Missouri Avenue, had burned down five years earlier, but "Skinny" D'Amato was used to getting up late.

It didn't take much to get him going. Within minutes, D'Amato was waxing nostalgically about what was and optimistically about what would be.

Resorts International was poised to open the first casino-hotel on the Boardwalk, the start of the grand experiment to rebuild the struggling resort. Caesars World and Bally's were waiting in the wings.

"It's gonna be a gold rush," D'Amato predicted, then corrected himself. "No, not gold. Platinum. That's better than gold."

Read the rest if the story here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How A "Reckless," "Irresponsible" Two-Paragraph Letter Written By D.A. Seth Williams Will Cost Philly Taxpayers Millions Of Dollars

Hey Seth, where's the beef?
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

On Dec. 3, 2012, District Attorney R. Seth Williams wrote a two-paragraph letter to then Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey.

In the letter, Williams announced that in "an exercise of prosecutorial discretion," his office would no longer prosecute any drug case involving five Philadelphia narcotics officers, as well as their supervisor.

The letter, which the D.A.'s office allegedly leaked two days later to Fox 29, effectively put out of business "the most accomplished and effective narcotics unit in the history of the Philadelphia Police Department," according to court papers filed by a lawyer for the five narcotics officers and their supervisor.

The D.A's letter also prompted the city to eventually throw out about 800 drug cases involving arrests made by those narcotics officers. Of the 800 cases, about 175 accused drug dealers have turned around and filed civil rights lawsuits against the former narcs as well as the city of Philadelphia, seeking damages.

During litigation over one of those criminal cases that was subsequently dismissed, the public defender's office, representing one of the accused drug dealers, repeatedly asked Seth Williams to provide the "information and documents" that led the D.A. to write that letter that put the narcs out of business.

The public defender's office was expecting to discover the files, information and documents that backed up the D.A.'s letter that led to the dismissal of 800 drug cases. The disturbing answer to the public defender's repeated requests for discovery, however, was that there were no files, no information, no documents.

The bottom line, as revealed in five years of past criminal and civil litigation: Seth Williams wrote a letter that destroyed the careers of six police officers and freed 800 drug dealers without one shred of demonstrable proof to back up his words.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Galati Gives Up, Pleads No Contest To Murder-For-Hire

By George Anastasia
For BigTrial.net

Ron Galati decided this afternoon to fold his cards rather than fight murder-for-hire and insurance fraud charges in Commons Pleas Court

Already serving a 22-year federal sentence for a conviction in a different murder conspiracy case, the 65-year-old South Philadelphia auto body shop owner pleaded no contest to a series of charges tied to two separate indictments pending against him.

Galati implied that he was not guilty, but said he opted to take a deal offered by the District Attorney's Office in order to "put this away and move on."

"This is the best decision," he told Judge Daniel Anders during a protracted hearing that began shortly before 10 a.m. and did not conclude until 12:45.

Under the terms of the plea deal, Galati's sentence in the two Common Pleas Court cases will run concurrently with the federal sentence he is currently serving. In addition, the District Attorney's Office agreed to drop insurance fraud charges against Galati's wife, Vicki.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Inky Bloodhounds Need A Seeing Eye Dog

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The bloodhounds at our city's intrepid paper of record are hot on the trail of D.A. Seth Williams.

But what those bloodhounds really need is a seeing eye dog to lead the way. Because the bloodhounds are blind, and have been for a long time.

In case you missed it, the Inky's hounds are sniffing a trail of blood left behind by Seth's self-inflicted wounds. It began with $160,000 in undeclared "gifts" that came from donors that included the Philadelphia Eagles, a roofing contractor, and some friendly defense lawyers. Also on the trail is the FBI and a federal grand jury.

The latest blood that was spilled resulted from a confession by the D.A.'s girlfriend, Stacey Cummings, that she had slashed tires on two official city vehicles parked outside Seth's house.

As in the $160,000 in gifts that went unreported for up to six years, Seth waited a while before doing the right thing. Twelve days went by before Seth's security officer finally got around to reporting the crime. Can you say cover-up?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"Boston Bob," Former Merlino Mob Associate, Now A Holy Roller

By George Anastasia

They called him "Boston Bob."

In the late 1990s, he was the Philadelphia mob's point man in Beantown, generating tens of thousands of dollars through bookmaking, loansharking, extortion and drug dealing.

Today, the former Robert Luisi goes by the name Alonso Eposito. And he's traded in his membership in Cosa Nostra for an affiliation with an organization that has an even more storied history.

Boston Bob is now Pastor Al, a Christian minister based in Tennessee with a television show, speaking engagements and Bible-study classes.

Rest of the story can be read here.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The [Real] Corruption Of Seth Williams

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

For the past five years, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has been given two complimentary all-access sideline passes to Philadelphia Eagles games.

This is the same District Attorney who last month decided that Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor wouldn't be prosecuted for the alleged sexual assault of a dancer at the Cheerleaders Gentlemen's Club.

Anyone see a problem?

For the past six years, D.A. Williams has accepted $160,000 in unreported gifts, including $45,000 in free roof repairs, and more than $20,000 in free airfare and lodging for vacations in Key West, Las Vegas and the Dominican Republic.

This is the same District Attorney who prosecuted Thomasine Tynes, a 71-year-old former Traffic Court judge, on a bribery charge for accepting the unreported gift of a Tiffany bracelet from a lobbyist worth $2,000. [She got up to 23 months in prison.]

Anyone see a problem?

It's great that a federal grand jury and The Philadelphia Inquirer are investigating the finances of Seth Williams. As bad as how the D.A. has flouted campaign finance laws, however, what he has done to Lady Justice is far worse.

As a grand jury report in this town once said, it's like comparing inappropriate touching with rape. And the rapist, a large bald man who wears bow ties, is still at large.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Big Trial On The Big Talker


An MP3 of Ralph Cipriano's appearance on Christine Flowers' Radio Show Sunday night on The Big Talker can be played here by hitting the little check mark in the gray box on the left.

Flowers recently weighed in with a  column on the D.A.'s decision to retry the Lynn case, "When justice is blind, but ambition isn't."

That column can be read here.
 

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