Monday, March 2, 2015

"Pop" Steals The Show

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

A tearful mom and a cagey grandfather took turns today beating up "Father Andy."

The mother of the alleged victim in the Father Andrew McCormick sex abuse case sobbed her way through  her testimony about her tortured altar boy son who used to pull his hair out and try to hang himself in the closet.

She was followed to the witness stand by her father, a cagey retired silver-haired detective who looks like Matlock.

The alleged victim wouldn't tell his mother what happened between him and Father Andy. But it was "Pop" who took a hysterical call from his daughter, coaxed the whole story out of his nerve-racked grandson, and then announced to the family, "We're going to the police."

Up on the witness stand, Pop wasn't shedding any tears. He clearly had Father Andy targeted for a jail cell.

Galati Sentenced In Murder-For-Hire Case

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

Ron Galati, the South Philadelphia auto body shop operator with a Godfather complex, was sentenced to nearly 23 years in federal prison this morning in a convoluted murder-for-hire case that was more suited for Mob Wives than Mario Puzo's classic American Mafia saga.

Citing the "callous" nature of the crime, but acknowledging Galati's age (64) and health problems, Judge Joseph Rodriguez imposed a sentence of 271 months, less than the maximum 308-month sentence sought by prosecutors but considerably more than the "home confinement" Galati's defense attorney had asked for.

No one from Galati's family attended the sentencing hearing and Galati, dressed in a green prison jump suit, his toupee neatly in place, opted not to comment when asked by the judge if he had anything to say.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Father Andy The Sequel Opens With Tears And A Shouting Match

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

When we last saw "Father Andy" McCormick nearly a year ago, thanks to a deadlocked jury, the priest was strolling out of the Criminal Justice Center as a free man.

Today, in Courtroom 1102, the priest was back in court with a new lawyer facing the same accuser. And some long odds in a retrial.

The alleged victim in the case is a slender, gay 27-year-old business manager for a large New York City cosmetics firm. He claims that back during the 1997-98 school year when he was a 10-year-old altar boy in fourth grade, Father Andy lured the boy up to his room in the rectory at St. John Cantius Church in Bridesburg. Then, according to the alleged victim, the priest locked the door, shoved the boy down on the bed, tore off his clothes, and tried to jam his penis in the boy's mouth.

Fourteen years later, the victim came forward to publicly accuse the priest. Today in court he told the jury that unlike another former 10-year-old altar boy that we know of, he's not in this for the money. That's why he hasn't filed a civil suit seeking damages, the alleged victim told the jury.

"I don't need to, I have a pretty successful career," he said. The only reason why he's doing this, he told the jury, is to make sure "another little kid doesn't go through this."

Monday, February 23, 2015

Gotti's Rules

John Alite
Big Trial's George Anastasia was a headliner on the PhillyVoice website today with a story about his new book, Gotti's Rules, The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti and the Demise of the American Mafia.

Anastasia will be discussing the book at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 24th at the Philadelphia Free Library.

Gotti's Rules got a favorable review in the Inquirer from veteran crime writer Paul Davis who called it a "fast-paced and compelling story that reads like a crime thriller."

Alite, a South Jersey resident who is the grandson of Albanian immigrants, said he was "more than Junior Gotti's best-friend; he was his baby-sitter," Davis writes. "The elder Gotti told Alite to look out for and work with his son," dubbed "Urkel" by wiseguys.

Here's the way Anastasia introduces his main character in the book:

"John Alite was a murder, drug dealer and thug," Anastasia writes. For 25 years he brutalized people. He stabbed them, shot them, and beat them with pipes, blackjacks and baseball bats.

"He's not proud of that, but he doesn't try to hide from it either," Anastasia writes. "It's who he was. But not who he is."

Alite wound up testifying against Junior in federal court. Anastasia's book has been big news in New York, where Alite told the New York Daily News that Junior Gotti was a "spoiled brat." It prompted Junior to write his own memoir.

Anastasia was also on Fox radio today discussing the book.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Fire Trap in Germantown; At L&I, More Scandal And Neglect

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

Three weeks ago at the request of a City Council member, Former L&I Commissioner Bennett Levin showed up to inspect the abandoned Germantown YWCA.

The century-old building on Germantown Avenue, declared imminently dangerous by L&I in 2012, is in sad shape. Some windows were boarded up with plywood, others were blown out. A rear brick wall was bowed, in danger of collapse. Inside, it got worse.

"I was shocked by what I saw," Levin, an engineer, wrote on a email chain that originates with Jim Foster, editor of Germantown's Independent Voice newspaper, and circulates to some 60 people. "Combustible trash that was at least two feet deep lined the first floor and the central stairwell to the second floor. The paper and other combustible trash that was strewn about made it nearly impossible to climb the stairs." The trash made it "absolutely a hazard to descend the stairs."

The conditions at the Germantown Y reminded Levin of the abandoned Kensington factory that went up in flames in 2012, killing two firefighters. The factory was the subject of a grand jury report last February that blasted L&I for failing to protect public safety. The grand jury faulted L&I for allowing the abandoned building owned by a couple of Brooklyn slumlords to suffer demolition by neglect, until the old factory became a "fire trap."

"This time you can't blame anybody from Brooklyn," Levin said in an interview about the condition of the Germantown Y. "It's no different than the conditions that were alleged to exist when the factory in Kensington burned down," Levin said. "It's a fire trap and if there's a fire in the building it could be a death trap if a fireman has to go in there. Why risk catastrophe?"

Who is the slumlord that owns the Germantown Y? The city of Philadelphia's Redevelopment Authority.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Judge Orders Leo Omar Hernandez To Be Deposed

Best Guy Pals Billy and Leo
By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

A Common Pleas Court judge has ordered Leo Omar Hernandez to give a deposition in the civil case of his former "best guy friend" Billy Doe.

Hernandez originally received a subpoena to appear as a witness on Dec. 12th, but to date has not shown.

On Wednesday, according to the docket in the case, Judge Jacqueline F. Allen granted a motion by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to order Hernandez to appear within 30 days.

"It is further ordered that Mr. Hernandez shall comply with the subpoena for his videotaped deposition at  the law offices of Conrad O'Brien PC, 2500 Market Street," the docket noted. Hernandez was ordered to bring along all documents "responsive to the subpoena," the docket said. "Failure to comply with this order may result in sanctions imposed by the court."

If he shows, Hernandez will join a roster of reluctant witnesses who have already been deposed in the civil case, including Bishop Edward P. Cullen, Msgr. William J. Lynn, and Bishop Joseph R. Cistone.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Nicodemo Gets 25-50 Years For DiPietro Murder


By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

He's a throwback, a standup guy in a mob decimated by turncoat witnesses.  

And as a result, he's looking at 23 more years in state prison.

On the eve of his retrial for the December 2012 murder of Gino DiPietro, mobster Anthony Nicodemo pleaded guilty this morning to third degree murder, conspiracy and weapons charges.

Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart, under the terms of a plea deal, sentenced the reputed South Philadelphia hitman to a minimum of 25 years in prison. With two years already served, Nicodemo, 43, will be able to apply for parole in 2038.

According to several sources, Nicodemo rejected offers to cooperate that could have resulted in substantially less jail time. The married father of two young children opted instead to live by an underworld code that has been shattered again and again by members of the Philadelphia mob.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

For Ringleader Of "Rogue" Cops Trial Prep A Problem

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

Defense lawyer Jeffrey Miller is having a tough time preparing for trial.

His client, former Philadelphia Police Officer Thomas Liciardello, has been held without bail for six months in the SHU, or Special Housing Unit, AKA "the hole."

Liciardello, the feds say, is the alleged ringleader of a rogue band of six former narcotics cops charged in a 26-count federal racketeering indictment with stealing more than $500,000 in cash, drugs and personal property. While on their crime spree, the feds claim, the narcs allegedly used excessive force, kidnapped drug dealers and falsified police reports to cover their tracks.

The government in discovery has turned over to defense lawyers some 77,000 pages of documents on computer discs. But Liciardello, who's in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, can only call his lawyer once a week. Liciardello also doesn't have his own computer to review any of the documents that will be used as evidence in his trial scheduled to begin on March 30. Meanwhile, the other five defendants in the case are all out on bail and all have their own computers.

"You can't prepare for trial like this," Miller complained to U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo C. Robreno.

 

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