Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Juror Dismissed as Defense Rests in Mob Case

A juror who apparently was leaning toward a guilty verdict was dismissed Wednesday shortly before the defense rested in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants.

Following a closed-door session before U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo Robreno, defense attorneys and prosecutors returned to the 15th floor courtroom where Robreno told the other members of the jury panel that "juror number five will not longer be sitting with us."

Robreno offered no other explanation, but told the jury it had nothing to do with an impropriety and that the trial would continue.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Defense Scores Points at Mob Trial

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

It was a good day for the defense Tuesday in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants.

Mousie
So good, in fact, that mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, a co-defendant, joked about going home. One of five defendants being held without bail, Massimino, during a break in the trial, asked Assistant U.S. Attorney John Han, "Can you give me a ride John?"

Massimino, Ligambi and the three other defendants held without bail will have to wait at least until January to find out if they walk out of the Federal Detention Center next door to the U.S. Courthouse. Jury deliberations are expected to begin on Jan. 7 following a recess later this week for the holidays.

But the defense camp was decidedly upbeat after Tuesday's court session which included testimony from one witness who blistered key government informant Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello and another witness who raised serious questions about whether a mob meeting at a North Jersey restaurant back in May 2010 was anything other than a bunch of guys getting together for lunch.

"I think we had a really good day," said one defense attorney.

Big Trial Media Roundup

-We had a featured writeup in the American Journalism Review.

- Dan Gross gossiped about us.

- The Philadelphia Inquirer talked to George about the Ligambi trial jury.

- Victor Fiorillo of Philadelphia magazine interviewed George about becoming a blogger.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mob Soldier Charged in "Dumb" Gangland Hit

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net


Mob soldier Anthony Nicodemo has been charged with first-degree murder in a gangland shooting that one police investigator called the "dumbest" mob hit he has ever seen.

A former federal prosecutor agreed, calling the broad daylight slaying of Gino DiPietro Wednesday afternoon "amateurish" but indicative of what the Philadelphia crime family has become.

Nicodemo, 41, was taken in to custody less than 30 minutes after the shooting. Witnesses had spotted him fleeing the scene in an SUV and gave authorities the license tag number. The vehicle was registered in Nicodemo's name and listed at his address, a few blocks from where DiPietro was gunned down.

The married father of two young children was arrested at that home without incident. He was charged with murder, conspiracy and weapons charges Thursday afternoon after a ballistic test linked a gun found in his car with a bullet fragment from the murder scene. Police also found gloves and a ski mask in the vehicle, a black Honda Pilot, according to an investigative source.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mob Hit Could Impact Ligambi Trial

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net


A mob hit in the middle of a mob trial?
Anthony Nicodemo

That's never a good thing. Particularly when the defense has spent two months harping on the same theme: this group of South Philadelphia wiseguys was not cut from the same violent cloth as the mobsters who ran the organization in the 1980s and 1990s.

What impact the shooting of Gino DiPietro will have on the trial mob boss Joe Ligambi and six co-defendants is an open question. Whether jurors heard about the hit and whether they connected it to the defendants are questions that can't be answered until the panel returns to the federal courthouse on Tuesday.

The trial recessed Wednesday after the prosecution presented its final pieces of evidence. DiPietro, a 50-year-old South Philadelphia drug dealer, was gunned down about three hours later. The defense is not scheduled to begin calling its witnesses until next week. Thursday was devoted to arguments, without the jury present.

But the overriding issue was whether the arrest of mob soldier Anthony Nicodemo in connection with the DiPietro shooting would have an impact on the trial process. Nicodemo, 41, has been taken into custody but not formally charged in the murder.

Ironically, his name was mentioned on one of the last secretly recorded wiretap conversations played for the jury. One of the speakers in that conversation was Damion Canalichio, a co-defendant in the case.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Prosecution Rests in Mob Trial

The prosecution ended its case Wednesday against mob boss Joe Ligambi and six co-defendants  where it began two months ago, playing a taped conversation made by mobster-turned-informant Nicholas "Nicky Skins" Stefanelli.

The conversation, featuring Stefanelli, Louis "Big Lou" Fazzini and Joseph "Scoops" Licata, was recorded in October 2010 at a meeting at the American Bistro, a restaurant in Belleville, N.J., just outside of Newark. Licata, 71, is a co-defendant in the ongoing trial. Fazzini, 45, pleaded guilty earlier this year.

A North Jersey-based capo with the Philadelphia crime family, Licata has been the forgotten man in the case. His name has seldom been mentioned by witnesses who the prosecution has used to tie Ligambi and the other co-defendants to gambling, extortion and loansharking operations at the heart of an alleged racketeering conspiracy.

But as he had been on another Stefanelli tape played back in October at the start of the trial, Licata was the principal speaker and center stage at the American Bistro meeting, commenting on the historyof the crime family, former mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo and Philip "Crazy Phil" Leonetti, Scarfo's nephew and underboss who became a cooperating witness.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ligambi Showed Up On Pay Day

"Uncle Joe" Ligambi
Two employees of a South Philadelphia trash company testified Tuesday that they weren't sure if mob boss Joe Ligambi did any work for the company.

But they both agreed on one thing: Ligambi showed up every Thursday to pick up his check.

"I would only see him come in on Thursdays," said Charles Piacentino, the operations manager for Top Job Disposal. "That was the day we cut our checks."

Ligambi was listed as a salesman for Top Job between 2000 and 2011. Authorities allege it was a "no show" job for which he collected a weekly salary of $1,000 in addition to health benefits.

One of the charges in the ongoing racketeering case is that Ligambi illegally collected over $224,000 in medical benefits from a Teamsters health and welfare fund under a contract the union had with Top Job. The indictment alleges Ligambi did no work for the company and was not entitled to those benefits which covered medical and dental expenses for himself, his wife and one of his sons.

Jury Hits Killer Cop With $4.7 Million Verdict, But Lets City Off With No Damages

A federal jury came back with a $4.7 million verdict today against former Police Officer Frank Tepper  for the Nov. 21, 2009 murder of 21-year-old Billy Panas.

Tepper, serving a life sentence, did not attend the trial of the civil suit filed against him by William and Karen Panas, the parents of the murder victim.

The big winner in court today, however, was the other defendant in the case, the city of Philadelphia.

The jury unanimously decided that the off-duty Philadelphia cop was acting as a police officer when he pulled a gun on Panas in a neighborhood dispute outside the cop's home.

The jury unanimously decided that Tepper violated Billy Panas's civil rights by murdering him; the jury  also unanimously decided that the city of Philadelphia had a custom or policy of "deliberate indifference" when it came to overlooking the use of excessive force by Officer Tepper.

But the jury unanimously decided that the city's custom of deliberate indifference did not cause the murder of Billy Panas. So they let the city off without having to pay any damages.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Did the City of Philadelphia Turn A Blind Eye to Officer Frank Tepper's Use of Excessive Force?

The jury in the killer cop civil trial will have to decide whether the city of Philadelphia deliberately ignored Officer Frank Tepper's past use of excessive force, and whether the murder of 21-year-old Billy Panas was a preventable tragedy.
James J. Binns

Lawyers in the federal case staked out opposing views during closing statements to the jury.

James J. Binns, lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the jury to remember the 911 tape from the night of the murder. On the tape, the first exhibit played to the  jury, Tepper is heard identifying himself to the 911 operator as a police officer, and then greeting fellow police officers arriving at the scene with: "It's all right" and, "We're all cops here."

"For him this was business as usual," Binns said, meaning that Officer Tepper was used to the police department covering up and excusing his use of excessive force.

"The city of Philadelphia turned a blind eye" to Tepper's abuses, Binns argued. It was "a policy of deliberate indifference" that Binns said not only emboldened Tepper, but "caused the murder of Billy Panas."

Deputy City Solicitor Mark V. Maguire characterized that argument as "a bridge too far."

"This is a tragic anomaly," Maguire said of the murder of Billy Panas. "No one could have predicted it ... Any one who tells you this was predictable is being disingenuous."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Parents of Murder Victim Break Down In Court

Karen Panas found out she had rectal cancer in 2006. She had to undergo radiation treatments and chemotherapy. She couldn't sit down for six weeks, and spent every day in bed. She had to endure four operations, and wound up with a colostomy bag.

Her husband had to work, so Karen's primary caretaker became her son, Billy Jr.

Billy Panas Jr.
"He cooked, he cleaned, he did everything," Karen Panas testified in federal court. He took her to doctor's appointments, radiation and chemo. At home, while she was lying in bed, Billy would  play computer games with her. He prepared meals, and cleaned the house to his mother's exacting standards. He didn't even flinch when it came time to change Mom's bag.

Karen Panas lost her primary caretaker on Nov. 21, 2009, when Police Officer Frank Tepper shot 21-year-old Billy to death. It happened after the off-duty cop came out of a party at his house and attempted to disperse a bunch of teenagers by waving his gun and threatening to shoot everybody.

Billy, who was unarmed, made the mistake of saying, "He won't shoot anybody." He was shot once  in the chest, and was dead on arrival at Temple University Hospital.

Karen Panas's brief testimony came to an end today when she held up a graduation picture in front of her face and sobbed, "He's my son."

There would be no cross-examination. "No questions," said Deputy City Solicitor Mark V. Maguire.

Tony Soprano and Joe Ligambi, Garbage Mobsters

Not for nothing was Tony Soprano a "solid waste management consultant."

The writers of that highly acclaimed cable televison series borrowed from real life when they created "employment" for the ficticious New Jersey crime boss. The mob, they knew, has always had its hooks into the trash business.

Jurors in the ongoing trial of Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi are about to get another version of that same story. Prosecutors on Friday began laying the groundwork for one of the last charges remaining in the two-month-old racketeering conspiracy case -- an allegation that Ligambi turned a "no show" job with a South Philadelphia trash hauling company into nearly a quarter million dollars in medical benefits.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Shame Of The Philadelphia Police Department: Multiple Cover-Ups to Protect A Psycho Cop

Frank Tepper
A former Philadelphia police inspector told a federal jury today that the city police department should have fired killer cop Frank Tepper 17 years ago.

"Starting in 1995, the Philadelphia Police Department knew they had a bad police officer," Joseph Stine testified. But instead, Stine said, the department gave Tepper one pass after another during his 16-year-career, with internal investigations that Shine described as either incompetent or blatant cover-ups.

Tepper joined the police department in 1993. Two years later, he got in trouble after running out of a bar while off-duty and in partial uniform, and initiating a car chase with two 21-year-old men he saw committing the offense of talking to his fiancee.

During an ensuing two-mile chase through Northeast Philadelphia, Officer Tepper repeatedly rammed the men's car with his own vehicle at several stop lights, attempting to push the men's car out into traffic. When the two men pulled over to seek assistance from uniformed police officers, Tepper allegedly beat the driver in the face with the butt of his gun.

"He [Tepper] should have been fired and should have been arrested" back in 1995 for aggravated assault, Stine told the jury. "On numerous occasions, Mr. Tepper should have been fired. He should have been fired and should have been arrested."

On Trial for Gambling, But Targeted for Murder?

Joseph Ligambi
He's charged with gambling and evidence played at a racketeering conspiracy trial Thursday tied him to a South Philadelphia social club where the mob did business.

But Damion Canalichio, a co-defendant of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and five others, is seen as much more than a bookmaker and video poker machine operator by the FBI. He is, they and Philadelphia police sources believe, the potential linchpin to solving one of three gangland murders for which no one has been charged.

Canalichio, they believe, knows the details behind the gangland slaying of  John "Johnny Gongs" Casasanto in November 2003. And that, say several sources, is why he is sitting at the defense table with Ligambi and the others in a racketeering case that defense attorneys have described as a run-of-the-mill gambling investigation.

A conviction, authorities hope, might be the leverage they need to pry loose information about the murder.

Canalichio's role in the mob's alleged gambling operation was part of the focus of testimony and evidence Thursday as the prosecution moved closer to the end of its presentation in the now two-month old trial.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Forgotten Man at the Mob Trial

Every day around 4:30 Joseph "Scoops" Licata stands up, puts his hands behind his back and waits for a federal marshal to slap handcuffs on his wrists.

Then Licata and four other defendants who are being held without bail are led off to the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia. The routine has been playing itself out for two months now at the racketeering conspiracy trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants (two are free on bail) in federal district court in Philadelphia.

One day this week, as Licata stood up, one of the many friends and family members of the defendants who gather in the 15th floor courtroom smiled and said, "Have a good nap Joe?"

Licata laughed and shook his head.

In many ways the white-haired, 71-year-old gangster is the forgotten man in the Ligambi trial. His name hasn't been mentioned in weeks of testimony. Often, and with the encouragement of his lawyer, he grabs catnaps.

A Psycho Cop, A Suspect's Face, And A Sizzling Car Hood

On the hot summer afternoon of July 31, 2000, Ronald Spencer was walking to the barber shop when Police Officer Frank Tepper got out of a car and ran after him screaming, "Omar, Omar," and "Black hat, black hat."

Spencer wasn't named Omar, but he was wearing a black hat.

"When I turned to him, he had a gun pointed at me," Spencer testified in federal court. Tepper wasn't in uniform, and he didn't identify himself as a police officer, Spencer told the jury, but he did ask to see Spencer's ID.

"When I didn't oblige, I got punched"in the face by Tepper, Spencer said. The next thing Spencer knew, he was thrown face-down on the sizzling hood of a car by three cops, one of whom had Spencer's arm twisted behind his back.

"My face was laid flat," Spencer testified. "The car was burning up. My flesh was burning. Every time I lifted my head up, Tepper gave me a punch" right in the face.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Psycho Cop Pulled Gun On 10-Year-Old

Stokley Playground
Ten-year-old David Florek was dribbling a basketball at the Stokley Playground in Port Richmond, when off-duty Police Officer Frank Tepper came out of his house brandishing a gun.

It was 8:30 at night, and Tepper was upset about the boy's dribbling, because the cop had to get up in the morning for an early shift.

"He had the gun in his hand," Florek, now 23, testified today in federal court. "I was scared out of my mind ... He was flailing his hands in an angry way."

Tepper was wearing a white T-shirt and police uniform pants with a blue stripe down the leg, Florek recalled. Florek said that while he was playing with his gun, the cop told him, "The game's over." Florek said he ran home as fast as he could, and wound up crying to his mother.

Florek was one of eight neighbors from Port Richmond who testified about their personal "encounters with Police Officer Frank Tepper," as repeatedly characterized in court by attorney James J. Binns.

The Offer He Couldn't Refuse

He came dressed like a character out of Guys and Dolls but the story he told was classic Goodfellas.

Joseph Procaccini, a major video poker machine vendor in the Philadelphia area, told a federal jury Tuesday that mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and two of his top associates forced Procaccini and a business partner to give up their control of a highly lucrative poker machine distribution network back in 2001.

"If we didn't deal with them they were just going to take it and we'd be left with nothing," Procaccini said when asked how Ligambi and his associates took 34 video poker machines assigned to 20 different locations. "We would get hurt if we didn't play ball with them...They said if we did, they wouldn't bother the rest of our business."

Dressed in a gray, sharkskin suit, black shirt and gray tie, Procaccini, 53, spent two hours detailing what authorities have charged was the extortion of his buisness, M&P Vending, by Ligambi and co-defendants Joseph "Mousie" Massimino and Anthony Staino.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lawyers Describe Killer Cop As A "Bully" And A "Drunken Idiot"

Frank Tepper
A plaintiff's lawyer characterized former Philadelphia Police Officer Frank Tepper as a lying, bullying drunk who loved to pick on teenagers before he shot 21-year-old Billy Panas to death with a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.

"Basicallly, Police Officer Tepper was a bully," said attorney James J. Binns, "someone who never should have worn a badge, or been a police officer."

Binns, representing the parents of the murder victim, is suing Tepper and the city of Philadelphia for damages in a civil case. Opening statements were made today in federal court; the case is expected to run into next week.

In his opening statement, a lawyer for the city conceded that Tepper was a "drunken idiot," but said that the former cop was not acting in any official capacity back in 2009 when he shot the unarmed Port Richmond man during an off-duty incident outside the cop's home.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Video Poker Machines and Espresso, a South Philadelphia Tradition

A South Philadelphia video poker machine vendor reluctantly offered jurors a look at the finances of the illegal gambling business Friday when he put a dollar figure on his 10-year run as a distributor.

Curt Arbitman, testifying in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants, said when he agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors he was forced to forfeit $600,000.

The money, he said, was an estimate of his take from a distribution network that he controlled from about 2000 until his arrest in September 2009.

His income, he told the jury, was based on a profit-sharing arrangement he had with the owners of the stops -- bars, restaurants and social clubs -- where his machines were placed. He said he worked a 75/25 split, meaning the stop owner got 75 percent of the take and he got 25 percent.

In effect, the buisness generated $2.4 million over that 10-year period.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mob Boss Rips Goverment Case As "Bullshit"

Mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi is apparently less than impressed with the government's evidence against him.

"This case is all bullshit," Ligambi said Thursday to several friends and family members who were seated in the second row of the courtroom.

Ligambi's comment came during a break and with the jury out of the courtroom. But his assessment, while not in legal terms, has been repeated privately by defense attorneys as the government continues to offer evidence and witnesses but, in the defense estimation, no smoking gun.

"It's like watching paint dry," one defense lawyer said of the two days of detailed and often esoteric testimony from an FBI gambling expert who provided the jury with an inside look at the sports betting and video poker businesses that prosecutors contend were major money-makers for the Ligambi organization.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

For Amusement Only?

The sign taped across the front of the Dodge City video poker machine read "for amusement only."

It was, federal prosecutors said, false advertising.

Video poker machines have long been a major money-maker for the mob, according to law enforcement authorities, and Wednesday the jury in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants got a detailed lesson about the ins and outs of the business.

The testimony from James Dunlap, a retired Baltimore police detective and nationally recognized gambling expert, set the stage for the next phase of the six-week old trial. On Thursday Curt Arbitman, described by investigators as a major distributor ofillegal poker machines in South Philadelphia, is expected to take the stand for the prosecution and discuss his business dealings with Ligambi and co-defendants Anthony Staino and Joseph "Mousie" Massimino among others.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Motive Behind the Martorano Murder

It's not part of the case, but clearly on the FBI's to-do list: solve the 2002 gangland murder of mobster Raymond "Long John" Martorano.

Long John
Jurors in the ongoing racketeering conspiracy trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi (long suspected of ordering the hit) got a sampling of what authorities know Tuesday when a secretly recorded conversation involving mob bookmaker Gary Battaglini, one of Ligambi's six co-defendants, was played as the trial entered its sixth week.

Battaglini was speaking with his brother-in-law Peter Albo, a convicted gambler, drug dealer and thief who was then about $10,000 in debt to what authorities say was a mob-controlled bookmaking operation.

Albo was also wired for sound.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jury Gets Underworld Primer On Bookmaking And Loansharking

Taking bets and chasing debts.

That was the business of bookmaking outlined Tuesday in a series of secretly recorded FBI recordings played for the jury in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants.

With the trial now in a week-long Thanksgiving holiday hiatus, jurors will get to ponder terms like "in the red" and "the Lakers for a dime" as they enjoy their turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Everyone will be back in court on Nov. 27.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pete the Crumb's Hits and Misses

In January 2000, Peter "Pete the Crumb" Caprio plotted with members of the Genovese and Gambino crime families to kill the leaders of the Philadelphia mob.

The reason? As always, money.

The targets? Then acting boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, underboss Steven Mazzone and consigliere George Borgesi.

"They wanted to make a move and get rid of all of them," Caprio said Monday after taking the stand in the racketeering conspiracy trial of Ligambi, Borgesi and five others in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

Caprio, who was a Newark-based capo for the Philadelphia crime family at the time, said members of the powerful Genovese family had planned to distribute illegal video poker machines throughout Philadelphia and South Jersey. And, he added, they didn't want to cut Ligambi and his organization in on the action.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another Govement Witness Rips Bent Finger Lou

A second government witness offered a less than glowing description of Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello at the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, mob leader George Borgesi and five co-defendants Friday as the trial wrapped up for the week.

Mario Camorate, who said he worked with Monacello in the gambling business for more than a decade beginning in the 1990s, called him a braggart and wannabe who constantly touted his mob connections to Borgesi, Ligambi's nephew.

At different times during more than an hour on the witness stand, Camorate, 43, offered these assessments of Monacello:

-- "Louie liked to talk."

-- "Louie said Georgie was his guy."

-- "Louie liked to put his resume out."

-- "Whenever he puffed, he would say he was with Georgie."

He also said he "stood by" comments he had made to a grand jury about Monacello.

"It's hard to be friends with a guy like Monacello," Camorate hold told a federal grand jury, "because his hand was always in your pocket."

When Ligambi's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr., asked Camorate if Monacello "liked to pretend he was part of the mob," Camorate quickly replied, "Yes."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Frankie the Fixer Then and Now

He was a South Philadelphia plumber who hung with the wiseguys ... and loved it.
Now he's a government witness ... and hates it.

"I turned on my family and my friends," Frank "Frankie the Fixer" DiGiacomo said Thursday from the witness stand in the racketeering trial of Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants. "I became the piece of shit no one wants to be."

DiGiacomo's candid assessment came during nearly five hours of testimony in which it was sometimes difficult to tell for whom he had taken the stand.

The prosecution witness described Ligambi and his co-defendants as "good people, great people" and talked about the fun he had hanging with them at bars and restaurants in South Philadelphia.

"I was fascinated by the lifestyle," he said of his days and nights spent in wiseguy hangouts..
Then shaking his head and smiling, he added, "And the women who would go in there..."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Not-So-Golden Oldie at Mob Trial

It was a blast from the past, a not so golden oldie from the audio archives of the Philadelphia mob.
Jurors is the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants ended their day Wednesday listening to tape recordings from 1999 in which a cackling George Borgesi, a co-defendant in the current case, laughed and joked about how he brutally assaulted mob associate Angelo Lutz.

"I knocked him out," Borgesi is heard saying in a phone conversation picked up by a Pennsylvania State Police wiretap on November 24, 1999. "I kicked him so hard he was sleeping....I ripped his shirt off. He was out like a fuckin' light."

Lutz, at the time a 5-foot-2, 450-pound mob associate of Borgesi's, had lied about trying to cash a check drawn on their pasta buisness, Borgesi explained.

"I started hollering, `Fuck you,'" Borgesi said on the wiretapped conversation. "He answered me like fresh and I went beserk."

Prosecutors played three taped conversations in which Borgesi laughed and mocked Lutz. The tapes came after the jury had heard three days of testimony from another Borgesi's associate, Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bent Finger Lou Mimics Mob Boss

Lou Monacello does a great Joe Ligambi.

The star government witness in the ongoing racketeering trial of the mob boss and six co-defendants sarcastically imitated Ligambi during testimony Tuesday as he provided the jury with a behind-the-scenes account of a largely dysfunctional crime family.

Monacello, 46, also told the jury that the reason he agreed to cooperate was because he believed his longtime "good friend" George Borgesi, one of the co-defendants in the case and Ligambi's nephew, intended to kill him.

"There's a fine line between me sitting here and there," Monacello, who is known as "Bent Finger Lou," said as he pointed to the defense table from the witness stand.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Prosecutor: Claim of False Confession "Utterly Frivolous"

The district attorney says a defense motion to reconsider bail in the case of Msgr. William J. Lynn, based upon allegations of a false confession by an alleged co-conspirator, former priest Edward V. Avery, is "utterly frivolous," and should be denied.

The Commonwealth's answer to a motion for reconsideration of bail was filed Sunday in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Eastern District, by Assistant District Attorney Hugh J. Burns Jr., chief of the district attorney's appeals unit. In his answer, Burns says the best evidence against the notion that Avery gave a false confession came from the former priest himself.

In an attachment, Avery's "written guilty plea colloquy" says that on March 22, the day he pleaded guilty, Avery signed his name on a document that says, "I admit I committed the crime[s]" of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and conspiracy to commit endangering the welfare of a child ... "Nobody promised me anything or threatened me or forced me to plead guilty. I, myself, have decided to plead guilty. I know what I say today is final."

Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy, was convicted June 22 of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, specifically a former ten-year-old altar boy, known as "Billy Doe," in civil proceedings. Avery pleaded guilty on March 22 to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with the boy, as well as conspiring with Lynn to endanger the welfare of the boy.

A jury, however, acquitted Lynn of the conspiracy charge that Avery had pleaded guilty to. After the trial, the defense alleged in a motion for reconsideration of bail that they did not know that Avery had passed a polygraph, and told the person who administered the polygraph that he never even met the boy.

The prosecutor, however, said that once a defendant comes into court and pleads guilty, the ballgame is over.

"It is well established that one who pleads guilty will not later be heard to claim that he lied in his colloquy," Burns wrote in his answer. "The Commonwealth had no duty to negotiate with Avery in a manner favorable to him. Defendant's lament [meaning Lynn] is one familiar to conspirators who have misplaced their confidence in a fellow criminal who later decided to reveal all and seek a favorable plea. It is not somehow a basis for relief."

The prosecution claims in its answer that since lie detector tests are not admissible as evidence in a Pennsylvania criminal trial, the prosecutors were not required to turn that evidence over to the defense.

Furthermore, Burns states that Lynn is not entitled to bail, and that contrary to defense claims, he does pose " "substantial flight risk." The monsignor is a "high-ranking official in the Philadelphia Archdiocese of a worldwide organization, the Roman Catholic Church, that has both diplomatic and non-diplomatic facilities in many nations," Burns wrote.

"While the Church obviously has no policy of harboring fleeing felons, the evidence at trial established that numerous individuals within that organization are closely associated with defendant and may be willing to assist him out of personal interest. In this regard, to the best of the Commonwealth's information, defendant's counsel fees continue to be paid by the Philadelphia Archdiocese, notwithstanding the fact that he has been convicted by a jury of using his clerical office to endanger children."

If Lynn fled the state, "the defendant's faculties as a priest" have not been limited in any way, Burns wrote. "Wherever he goes, defendant will continue to fully possess every priestly faculty unless and until his ecclesiastic superiors take official action to curtail them. Thus, if he fled the jurisdiction and his appeal was quashed he could continue to function as a priest, with the added bonus of not having to serve his 3 to 6 year prison term."

In their court filing, the prosecutors say that Avery was one of a long line of abuser priests that Lynn gave favorable treatment to, at the expense of former and future victims.

"The evidence at trial revealed that Avery was not the only predator defendant harbored and protected, and that his handling of Avery was no aberration," Burns wrote. "It was rather part of a continuous, systematic practice of retaining abusive priests in ministry, with continued access to minors, while taking pains to avoid scandal or liability for the Archdiocese."

"The Commonwealth presented evidence relating to numerous priests whom Lynn recommended for continued assignments after learning that they had abused children," Burns wrote. He cites a  familiar litany of the cases of 13 priests presented at Lynn's trial as supplemental evidence of a pattern of conduct. The names on the list include some of the archdiocese's premier abusers, such as Stanley Gana, Nicholas Cudemo and David Sicoli. Unlike Lynn, all three known abusers are still at large.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Defense: Secret Polygraph Test Indicates Father Avery Never Assaulted 10-Year-Old Altar Boy, So Monsignor Lynn Was Convicted of A Crime That Never Happened

A motion to reconsider bail filed in Pennsylvania Superior Court contains a bombshell disclosure -- that former priest Edward V. Avery passed a polygraph test indicating he never touched the former 10-year-old altar boy he pleaded guilty to abusing.

Avery pleaded guilty on March 22 to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with the boy, and received a 2 1/2 to five year sentence, even though he told authorities he never even met the boy. The only reason Avery pleaded guilty to a crime he didn't commit, according to the defense motion, was that he was credibly accused by a prior victim, and that the prosecution offered him a good deal.

But the deal had one condition, that the defrocked priest plead guilty to a conspiracy involving Msgr. William J. Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for the clergy. Avery, who was supposed to go on trial with Lynn until he pleaded guilty, was facing a prison sentence of up to 20 years if convicted of molesting the boy, dubbed "Billy Doe" in civil litigation.

The motion to reconsider bail was filed Monday by Thomas A. Bergstrom, Allison Khaskelis and Alan J. Tauber, defense lawyers for Msgr. Lynn, the first Catholic administrator in the country to be convicted of child endangerment for transferring abusive priests from one parish to another. Lynn's lawyers say they were only recently told about the polygraph test by Avery's lawyer, so they cite the polygraph as further evidence that Lynn should be released on bail. Lynn previously was denied bail by Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, as well as by the Superior Court.

A lawyer who represents Billy Doe in his civil claim against the archdiocese described the filing as "complete BS." A spokesman for the district attorney declined comment until a written response is filed in court.

Lynn was convicted on June 22 of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, specifically in the case of the 10-year-old altar boy dubbed "Billy Doe," who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Father Avery. Lynn is now serving a prison sentence of three to six years.

In their motion to reconsider bail, Lynn's lawyers say they were "belatedly notified by John P. Donohue, counsel for Edward Avery, that Mr. Avery may actually be innocent of sexual assault against" Billy Doe. "The innocence of Edward Avery, whose alleged actions served as predicate for [Lynn's] conviction, would render [Lynn] innocent of the charge for which he was convicted."

In their motion, Lynn's attorneys say that Avery "denied having engaged in sexual contact with" the altar boy to prosecutors. "Significantly, Mr. Avery explicitly informed the Commonwealth that he was entering into his guilty plea before Judge Sarmina solely for the purpose of receiving an agreed-upon sentence of 2 1/2 to 5 years and thereby reducing the risk of a far greater prison sentence after trial."

Avery denied sexually assaulting, or even knowing the former altar boy in statements made to William Fleisher of Keystone Investigation Network during a polygraph test, according to the motion. Avery passed the polygraph, Bergstrom said in an interview. Such tests, however, are not admissible in criminal courts in Pennsylvania.

Lynn's lawyers say prosecutors never informed them of the polygraph test, which they claim is a violation of Brady V. Maryland, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires all prosecution evidence indicating the defendant's innocence to be turned over to defense counsels.

"At the very least, knowledge of this information would have affected the tactical decisions pursued by [Lynn's] counsel during the trial,"Lynn's lawyers write.

The motion filed by Lynn's lawyers says that Avery offered to waive the statute of limitations, and plead guilty to an earlier sexual abuse of another boy. The first victim came forward as an adult in 1992. Avery offered to plead guilty in exchange for the same 2 1/2 to 5 year prison sentence, the motion said, but "the Commonwealth refused to accept that plea."

"The only plea to which the Commonwealth would acede was fashioned to connect Mr. Avery to the sexual assault of [Billy Doe} and implicate [Lynn] in a conspiracy to achieve this goal, even though the Commonwealth knew the motivation behind the plea and had compelling reasons to doubt the plea's veracity," Lynn's lawyers wrote.

"This newly discovered information leads to the disconcerting conclusion that the Commonwealth was driven by a zealous and single-minded desire to try [Lynn] and obtain a conviction, despite information that put into question the justice of pursing that outcome,"Lynn's lawyers conclude in their motion.

In an interview, attorney Bergstrom said he believed that Avery never assaulted Billy Doe, and that the polygraph test "tends to support that."

"I firmly believe that Avery didn't touch" Billy Doe, Bergstrom said. "Msgr. Lynn  gets convicted for something that Avery didn't do. I don't know why Avery went and pleaded guilty except that he got a good deal."

Bergstrom said he was troubled by Billy Doe's description of a "violent attack" by Avery, because he believed such an attack was "out of character" for Avery. The previous sexual abuse incident described by the victim involved "groping and touching," Bergstrom said.

Both victims appeared in court during the Lynn case to tell their stories.

The first victim notified the archdiocese of his accusations against Father Avery on Oct. 19, 1992. At the time, the victim was a married 29-year-old medical student. The accusations took place 10 to 15 years earlier, when the victim was a teenager. At the time, Avery was associate pastor at St. Philip Neri, where the victim went to church. 

The victim testified to the jury that Father Avery used to take him along while he worked as a DJ at Smokey Joe's, a bar on the University of Pennsylvania campus in West Philadelphia.

The victim said that Father Avery gave him his first beer when he was 12.  The victim got so drunk one night at Smokey Joe's that Father Avery brought him back to the rectory, where the boy slept in the priest's single bed. During the night, the victim testified that he woke up and found the priest touching and fondling his genitals. That wasn't the only time. The victim said hen he was 19, the priest took him on a ski trip to Vermont, and wound up fondling him again.

Billy Doe told the jury that in 1998, Father Avery took him into a storage closet, shut the door behind him, and put some music on a CD player. "It sounded kind of churchy," the witness recalled, but with more of a beat. "He had me doing a strip tease for him."

The witness recalled "swaying" while he was taking off his clothes, and Father Avery watching him "with this eerie smile."The priest took off his clothes, and "he had me sit on his lap," the witness said. Then the priest said it was "time for me to become a man." The priest then forced the boy to engage in  oral sex.

On the day Avery was sentenced, March 22, the former priest was never asked if the charges against him were actually true, or whether he had done the crimes he was accused of committing. A court transcript shows that Avery pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and one count of conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child.

"In exchange for your please of guilty, your attorneys and the Commonwealth's attorney have agreed to a sentence of not less than two-and-a-half and no more than five years would be imposed," said Judge M. Teresa Sarmina. "Is that your understanding of the negotiations?"

"Yes, it is is, Your Honor," Avery said.

The judge then outlines that involuntary deviate sexual intercourse is a first-degree felony, carrying a maximum penalty of not less than 10 years, and not more than 20 years, while endangering the welfare of a child is a third-degree felony punishable by between 3 1/2 to 7 years.

If the two sentences were served consecutively, Avery would be facing a maximum possible sentence of 13 1/3 to 27 years in prison, the judge told Avery. "Do you understand that?"

"I do, Your Honor," Avery replied.

"Do you think, sir, that you have to plead guilty in this case, or is that something you've discussed and decided to do?" Judge Sarmina asked the defendant.

"It's something I have discussed and decided to do," Avery said.

"Have any promises or representations been made to you by anyone to get you to plead guilty other than what you've heard me state here in open court in front of everyone?" the judge asked.

"No, they have not," Avery said.

"Did anybody pressure you or threaten you in any way in order to get you to plead guilty?" the judge asked.

"No, they did not," Avery said.

"Are you pleading guilty of your own free will?"

"I am, Your Honor," the defendant said.

"Whose decision was it for you to plead guilty, Mr. Avery?" the judge asked.

"My own," Avery said.

The judge asked the prosecutor to read "the elements of the offenses to which you are entering your pleas of guilty." The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, read the accusations involving the alleged oral intercourse Avery engaged in with the 10-year-old altar boy, as well as charges that between 1992 and 2003, Avery agreed with Lynn and other archdiocese of Philadelphia employees and officials to "engage in a course of conduct" that endangered the welfare of children.

Blessington further stated that Avery "was aided in his efforts to remain in ministry with unsupervised access to parish children and altar servers by Lynn and others in the archdiocese." Blessington further alleged that "Lynn and other archdiocese officials acted in concert with Avery with a common purpose to conceal Avery's known acts of sexual abuse of a minor ... so that Avery could remain in ministry without the knowledge of parishioners ..."

"Are those the facts to which today you are entering your plea of guilty to the two charges we have already discussed?" the judge said.

"They are, Your Honor," Avery said.

The judge read the two charges, and Avery pleaded guilty twice.

"The court finds that the entry of your pleas has been made knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily, and therefore, I will accept them," the judge said before imposing the agreed upon sentence of 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison.

When the case went to trial, however, the jury acquitted Lynn of conspiring with Avery and/or anyone else to endanger the welfare of a child.

Friday, August 24, 2012

After A Tearful Apology, A "Humbled" Former Archdiocese of Philadelphia CFO Is Hauled Off To Jail

Why did Anita Guzzardi, the former Chief Financial Officer of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, embezzle $906,000 from her employer?

In court today at a sentencing hearing, four different people offered four different explanations.

The prosecutor said Guzzardi didn't need the money, but she was greedy, and liked "nice things."

Guzzardi's addictions counselor said she was a pathological gambler who suffered from depression.

Guzzardi's older sister said she came from a dysfunctional family with a father who was a gambling addict and a mother who was a compulsive shopper and also abusive.

And finally, Guzzardi's lawyer said she felt betrayed by the archdiocese, after she read the 2005 grand jury report, and discovered that for decades the church she worked for had been covering up the sexual abuse of children.

Defense lawyer Louis R. Busico said his client had a clean record, was truly repentant, and had already paid back $260,000. Guzzardi posed no further menace to society, the defense lawyer argued, so putting her in jail would serve "no legitimate purpose." Why not just give her probation?

But Assistant District Attorney Lisa Caulfield, citing seven years of calculated criminal activity, and the sheer amount of the embezzlement, asked the judge to impose a sentence of 5 1/2 to 11 years.

The one thing at the sentencing hearing that everybody agreed on, including Guzzardi, was that she stole the money. From 2005 to 2011, Guzzardi, 42, of Haddon Heights, N.J., wrote 330 checks out of archdiocese accounts, to pay her own bills. She pleaded guilty to three third-degree felonies: theft by deception, unlawful use of a computer, and forgery.

Judge Ellen Ceisler told the defendant that a sentence of probation would be viewed as "a slap on the wrist," and would send the wrong message to society. But the district attorney had overlooked several mitigating factors, the judge said, including the defendant's "heartfelt remorse," and that $260,000 she had already paid back. So the judge sentenced Guzzardi to two to seven years in prison, plus seven years of probation. The judge also ordered Guzzardi to pay back another $646,627 in restitution.

The embezzlement was first flagged by an investigator for American Express, who called the archdiocese and asked why they were writing checks to casinos. At least $370,000 of the embezzled money went for cash advances and purchases at casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas and Key West, Mexico and the Bahamas. Guzzardi, according to the prosecutor, also used the embezzled money to pay down her mortgage, and take family vacations to Hawaii, San Francisco and the Bahamas. Guzzardi also wrote out big checks payable to herself. Even though she and her husband had good jobs and no children, the prosecutor said.

"She had plenty of money," said Assistant District Attorney Lisa Caulfield. She also had plenty of trust from her employer Guzzardi had worked for the archdiocese since she was 20. She kept getting promoted until she finally reached the rank of CFO in 2011, with an annual salary of $124,000.

"She likes nice things,"Caulfield told the judge. Guzzardi spent church money on "ridiculous luxuries," such as $5,000 worth of shoes and a Christian Dior dress while vacationing in Las Vegas. 

"She literally parties for seven years on somebody else's dime," the prosecutor told the judge. Caulfield rejected the defense argument that the 2005 grand jury report prompted Guzzardi to go on a spending binge fueled by embezzled money.

Guzzardi stole $39,000 before the 2005 grand jury report ever came out, Caulfield told the judge. The defense argument that the grand jury made her do it was "a convenient excuse," the prosecutor said, "an excuse made up now to justify what she's been doing for seven years."

When someone "steals money when you don't need it, that is plain greed," Caulfield said, while asking for a sentence of 5 1/2 to 11 years, plus 10 years probation.

The courtroom was packed with some 36 friends and family members of Guzzardi, who took turns standing up in court to show support. They included Guzzardi's husband, sister, an uncle and aunt, brothers-in-law, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.

Richard Sockriter, the addictions counselor who has been seeing Guzzardi once a week for the past year said her pathological gambling "affects all aspects of a person's life."

A tearful Guzzardi told the judge she had been "humbled" in the past year, after her crimes had been exposed, and in the words of her lawyer, "her name and face was plastered all over the news." Guzzardi apologized to the archdiocese for her crimes, and to her friends and family for the "terrrible and selfish way" she had behaved. 

"I let them down," she said of her supporters. "My heart aches each and every day" for the pain she had inflicted on friends and family, she said. "I was out of control." She promised to make full restitution. "I'll pay to make up for the lies ... I have a repentant heart."

Defense lawyer Busico told the judge his client had just expressed "true remorse." He then drew a parallel with other archdiocese employees.

"What a difference it would make," he said, if other people at the archdiocese "had that kind of remorse, and came forward to admit their complicity," instead of doing what they usually do, "ask for a transfer."

Not only did his client confess her guilt, and help the district attorney's office in its investigation, Busico said, but on two occasions, Guzzardi "came forward at her own peril" to tell investigators about the inner workings of the archdiocese.

Guzzardi told investigators the how, when and why priests were transferred, her lawyer said. She also told investigators the true financial picture of the archdiocese over the last several years, Busico told the judge. He referred to the archdiocese's money, and "who knew where it went."

"The Commonwealth chose not to use it," Busico said of the information offered by Guzzardi. [When asked about Guzzardi's meetings with the district attorney's office, prosecutor Caulfield said she was aware of two meetings, but as far as specifics, she did not know what Busico was talking about.]

Busico also asserted that no schools or parishes had to be closed because of the crimes his client had committed. "They were insured," Busico said of the archdiocese. "If the loss of money is the biggest problem in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, what a horrible place it must be."

He amplified on an argument made in his sentencing memo. "She was involved with an institution that she felt betrayed by," he told the judge. 

After the judge imposed sentence, Busico asked for a stay so Guzzardi could get her life in order before going to jail. But the judge said that Guzzardi had been instructed to come to court today prepared for the imposition of sentence.

And then while her friends and family cried, Guzzardi was led away by a female sheriff's deputy.

Afterwards, Busico said he was "grateful that the judge had recognized that his client was sincere and remorseful," and gave Guzzardi less time than the Commonwealth asked for. "And we're dissapointed that nobody from the archdiocese showed up to express forgiveness."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bishops Cullen and Cistone To Be Named Defendants in Ongoing Civil Case Against Archdiocese of Philadelphia

They may have escaped criminal prosecution, but according to a memorandum of law filed Monday in Common Pleas Court, Bishops Edward P. Cullen and Joseph R. Cistone can expect to be named as defendants in an ongoing civil case against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia regarding the sexual abuse of a former 10-year-old altar boy.

Lawyers representing "Billy Doe" filed the memorandum of law in the civil case of Billy Doe V. the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Doe is the pseudonym for the former altar boy sexually abused by Father Edward V. Avery, who pleaded guilty on March 22 to involuntary deviant sexual intercourse with a minor, and was sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in prison. Avery's abuse of Billy Doe also resulted in the June 22 conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn for endangering the welfare of a child. Lynn is now serving a prison term of three to six years.

The former altar boy allegedly was passed from one abuser to another at St. Jerome's parish. On Sept. 4, two more alleged abusers of Billy Doe -- Charles Engelhardt, a former priest, and Bernard Shero, a former archdiocese school teacher -- are scheduled to go on trial before Judge M. Teresa Sarmina at the Criminal Justice Center.

Engelhardt and Shero were originally supposed to be tried back in March with Father Avery and Father James J. Brennan, before they were severed from the case, at their request. In the criminal case, lawyers for Engelhardt had been seeking the mental health records of the former altar boy, but Judge Sarmina ruled against them.

The defense lawyers then sought to obtain the victim's mental health records through discovery in the civil case, which was filed back in July 2011, but was put on hold until the criminal case was over. On July 29, 2011, Common Pleas Court Judge Lillian Harris Ransom ruled that the defense was not entitled to the victim's mental health records. On Nov. 2, 2011, Common Pleas Judge William Manfredi stayed all discovery in the civil case until June 30, 2012, based on assumptions that the criminal trials would be over by then.

In court papers filed Monday, lawyers for Billy Doe contend that defense lawyers for Engelhardt and Shero are now attempting to take advantage of being severed from the Lynn case by renewing their request for the victim's mental health records after the stay had expired, despite the fact that judges in both the civil and criminal cases had ruled that the defendants were not entitled to the victim's mental health records. In the memorandum of law, Doe's lawyers state that defense lawyers for Engelhardt and Shero had argued that they are running out of time to conduct discovery in the civil case.

The civil case filed on behalf of the former altar boy names as defendants, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the late Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, Msgr. Lynn, Father Avery, Engelhardt and Shero.

In the memorandum of law filed Monday, Doe's lawyers argue, "Engelhardt's contention that he will have insufficient time to conduct discovery prior to the scheduled trial date is illusory. Upon completion of the parallel criminal trial, plaintiff intends to file an Amended Complaint naming [as defendants] the parish, St. Jerome's, Father Engelhardt's Religious Order, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, and a number of high ranking Archdiocese officials -- including former Bishop of Allentown, Edward Cullen, and current Bishop of Sagninaw, Michigan, Joseph Cistone -- who conspired with the late Cardinal Bevilacqua to cover up the rampant sexual abuse of children by priests of the Philadelphia Archdiocese."

"Once the amended Complaint is filed, a new Case Management Order will have to be entered, giving all parties new scheduling deadlines," Billy Doe's lawyers argue. "This fact totally obviates Engelhardt's concern that he will have insufficient time for discovery."

The district attorney's office on Monday sent a letter to Common Pleas Court Judge Marlene F. Lachman, requesting that discovery in the civil case be stayed until the criminal case involving Engelhardt and Shero is over.

If Doe's lawyers follow through with their threat to name Cullen and Cistone as defendants, it would move the blame for the sex abuse scandal in the archdiocese a couple of notches above Lynn on the organizational chart. Cullen and Cistone are both former Vicars for Administration, with Cistone succeeding Cullen in that position. As secretary for clergy, Lynn reported to the Assistant Vicar for Administration. As Vicar for Administration, Bishop Cullen functioned as the number two man in the archdiocese under Cardinal Bevilacqua, and had the power to sign documents on the cardinal's behalf.

Lynn was appointed secretary for clergy in 1992. He subsequently drew up a list of 35 abuser priests. On Feb. 18, 1994, Lynn submitted that list to Msgr. James E. Molloy, then Assistant Vicar for Administration under Cullen. Lynn's list divided the abuser priests into three categories. First, Lynn listed three priests as "diagnosed pedophiles:" Rev. James J. Brzyski, who left the priesthood in 1985, Father Nicholas V. Cudemo, listed as having "reduced faculties" and "living with relatives," and Father Peter J. Dunne, who had "no official assignment."

Lynn's next category lists 13 priests "guilty of sexual misconduct with minors."

Number one on the list is Father Edward V. Avery, then a chaplain at Nazareth Hospital, and a resident at St. Jerome's parish.

Under Father Avery's name, Lynn wrote, "alcoholism and action with same minor three times," and "action occurred more than five years ago."

Lynn brought several copies of his list to a high-level archdiocese "issues meeting" on Feb. 15, 1994 attended by Bevilacqua, Cullen and Molloy. Bevilacqua subsequently ordered several copies of Lynn's list to be destroyed.

"On 3-22-94, at 10:45 a.m. I shredded, in the presence of Reverend Joseph R. Cistone, four copies of these lists from the secret archives," Molloy wrote in a handwritten memo discovered in an archdiocese safe in 2006. "This action was taken on the basis of a directive I received from Cardinal Bevilacqua at the issues meeting of 2-15-94 ..." The copies that were destroyed included the original list and copies made for Bevilacqua, Cullen and Molloy, according to Molloy's handwritten memo.

On the note, it says in more handwriting: "witnessed: Rev. Joseph R. Cistone 3-22-94."

Molloy died in 2006. Both Cistone and Cullen have never publicly discussed the shredding of the memos.

Lynn's memo may have been shredded, but the number of 35 abuser priests would be heard of again. On April 29, 2004, Cistone, then a monsignor, was brought before a grand jury and questioned regarding the issuance of press releases in 2002 that claimed the archdiocese had only 35 abuser priests in its employ in the previous 50 years.

Cardinal Bevilacqua also used that figure in an interview with Lynn Doyle. The talk show host questioned Bevilacqua in relation to the Boston sex abuse scandal, which at the time involved more than 80 priests. In his grand jury testimony, Cistone, as vicar of administration, oversaw the issuing of press releases.

"When that press release was generated with the number 35 over the past 50 years, what did you do to verify that the information being released to the public was accurate?" asked Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCartney.

"I relied on Msgr. Lynn's information," Cistone said.

"And who was it that gave the directive to Msgr. Lynn to gather that data?" the prosecutor asked.

"I can't recall how a directive came for that," Cistone said. "It may have been in the discussion. I can't recall how -- where the directive came from or ... I just don't recall."

"Did Msgr. Lynn just give you a memo that said there's 35 cases, or did he provide you with the background and the names of the 35 that he was referring to?"

"He gave a number, and if I recall, it was in a discussion that we had," Cistone replied. "It would have been a table discussion with the -- with different parties present for his Eminence, perhaps our communications person."

"He gave the number, but no names," Cistone said. "I mean, that's where the number would have come from, as an estimate of where you -- or you know, as a number of cases."

Cistone told the prosecutor he thought that in drawing up a list of 35 abuser priests, Lynn had been assisted by lawyers from Stradley Ronon Sevens & Young, the archdiocese's law firm. The prosecutor subsequently asked Cistone about Bevilacqua's public pronouncements.

"Cardinal Bevilacqua, in issuing the public statement that there were 35 credible allegations, he also indicated on a number of occasions that there was no priests presently working in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that had had a credible allegation against him," the prosecutor said. "You are aware that he made that statement, correct?"

"Correct," Cistone said.

"Okay," the prosecutor said. "He made it both in a press release, and he also made it on the Lynn Doyle show, correct?"

"Well, I don't know about the Lynn Doyle show, but the press release ..." Cistone said.

"Okay," the prosecutor said. "Do you know what was the basis of his making that statement?"

"I do not know other than the information that was presented by Msgr. Lynn," Cistone said.

"Were you present when Msgr. Lynn presented that information to the cardinal?"

"The number 35?" Cistone said. "Yes I would have been in that. As I said, we were a round table discussion where it was presented."

The prosecutor cited Cistone's responsibility as vicar for administration to oversee press releases, and asked what Cistone had done to make himself "comfortable with the fact that that was an accurate statement."

"I relied on Msgr. Lynn's information," Cistone said.

"But in relying on that information," the prosecutor said, "Did you go to him and say, Bill, you put this -- you know, this is the information you're giving me. How did you arrive at it? What did you use? How can I tell the Cardinal that this is something he should feel comfortable saying? Did you do any of those things?"

"I did not," Cistone said. "No."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Priest Abuse Trial Timeline

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Defense Lawyers Ask State Superior Court to Grant Bail to Monsignor Lynn

Msgr. Lynn's lawyers are asking the state Superior Court to let their client out on bail pending appeal.

In a brief filed this week, Lynn's lawyers say the monsignor was convicted on June 22 of one count of endangering the welfare of a child [EWOC] "based upon a novel and controversial theory of liability that held him criminally responsible for inadequately supervising a priest ... alleged to have sexually abused a child."

The state's 1972 child endangerment law was usually applied to parents, guardians, and those in direct contact with children, say defense lawyers Thomas A. Bergstrom, Allison Khaskelis, and Alan J. Tauber. Lynn is the first supervisor in the history of Pennsylvania to be charged under the old child endangerment law, even though he never had any direct contact with the child, the lawyers argue.

The defense lawyers say they have a  "substantial legal claim" because in 2005, then-District Attorney Lynne Abraham agreed that the old state endangerment law did not apply to Lynn, Cardinal Bevilacqua or other members of the hierarchy of the archdiocese of Philadelphia.

A 2005 grand jury report concluded: "the offense of endangering the welfare of children is too narrow to support a successful prosecution of the decision makers who are running the Archdiocese. The statute confines its coverage to parents, guardians, and other persons 'supervising the welfare of a child.' High level Archdiocesan officials, however, were far removed from any direct contact with children."

The l972 EWOC law states: "A parent, guardian or other persons supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of a child by violating a duty of care, protection or support."

"Pennsylvania appellate courts that have examined the [old] statute have uniformly concluded ... that those responsible for 'supervising the welfare of a child' are parents, parental surrogates or direct supervisors of children only," the lawyers argued.

In 2006, the district attorney's office "zealously advocated for an an amendment of the EWOC statute to cover supervisors and employers that would make church hierarchy and corporate managers liable going forward," the defense lawyers wrote.

As part of that lobbying effort, Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen argued in an Oct. 1, 2006 article in the Allentown Morning Call that the legislature should "promptly enact the Philadelphia grand jury recommendations to: make the law against endangering the welfare of children explicitly apply to supervisors who place children in the care of those known to be dangerous to children ... What criminal law reforms cannot do is identify or hold accountable past abusers and enablers who have successfully concealed their offenses until after the statute of limitations has run."

The amended law, which took effect in 2007, says, "A parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age, or a person that employs or supervises such a person, commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support."

Then in 2011, a new district attorney, Seth Williams, and a new grand jury decided the old 1972 law did apply to Lynn, and the monsignor was indicted for endangering the welfare of a child. In their brief, Lynn's defense lawyers refer to the change of policy as "an unprecedented flip-flop of statutory interpretation" that has never been explained. 

Lynn was sentenced to three to six years in prison by Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, who also denied him bail. In their appeal to Superior Court, Lynn's defense lawyers contend that the 61-year-old monsignor deserves bail because he has been a priest for 36 years, has deep ties to the community, and no previous record of criminal behavior, so he is not a flight risk.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Judge Denies Bail for Monsignor While Archdiocese Battles Its Own Lawyers Over Money For Appeal

Judge M. Teresa Sarmina today denied a defense motion that would have allowed Msgr. William J. Lynn out on bail pending an appeal of his historic conviction. Lynn, the first Catholic administrator in the country to be convicted in connection with clerical sex abuse, has been in jail since June 22, when a jury convicted him of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a third-degree felony.

On July 24, Judge Sarmina sentenced Lynn to three to six years in prison for failing to protect a 10-year-old altar boy back in 1999 from a predator priest. The defense argued that by the time an appeal is heard, the monsignor may have already served his prison sentence, which is why Lynn's defense lawyers thought the monsignor should be freed during the appeal process.

Judge Sarmina, however, rejected that motion. She said that technically under the law, Lynn was not entitled to bail because his sentence was more than two years in duration. Jeffrey M. Lindy, one of Lynn's defense lawyers, argued that although Lynn did not have a right to bail, it was within the judge's powers of discretion to grant him bail.

Lindy cited extraordinary circumstances, namely that Lynn had been the first supervisor in the history of Pennsylvania to be charged under the 1972 state statute for endangering the welfare of a child. Normally, those charged under the child endangerment statute had direct contact with children, such as teachers, parents or guardians. Lynn, however, never laid eyes on the victim in this case, the former 10-year-old altar boy, until he took the witness stand.

But Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington told the judge that this was the third time the defense was trying to get their client out on bail, and that under the law, Lynn wasn't entitled to it.

The defense had contended that Lynn's chance of winning an appeal was "surely no less than a 50/50 proposition" because of "the prosecutor's own recent contradictory interpretations of the EWOC [endangering the welfare of a child] statute"that Lynn had been convicted of.

The defense lawyers cited a 2005 grand jury report, issued under former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, that determined that Msgr. Lynn, Cardinal Bevilacqua and the rest of the archdiocese hierarchy were not liable under the EWOC statute. Then, a second grand jury in 2011, under a new district attorney, Seth Williams, recommended that Lynn be charged under that same EWOC statute.

But the judge didn't even address that argument. Following a 17-minute hearing, the judge said she was denying the motion because of the "serious nature of the crime" that Lynn had been convicted of. She did not elaborate.

Lynn, the archdiocese secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, wasn't in the courtroom when the judge denied bail. He previously had waived his right to appear at today's hearing, which everybody realized the defense had little chance of winning. None of Lynn's family members showed up either.

Outside the courtroom, Lindy said the judge wasn't in a listening mode. "She really didn't want to hear any argument," he said.

Lindy then opened up another can of worms. Lynn's defense team plans an immediate appeal of the monsignor's conviction to Superior Court. But the archdiocese recently decided to cut back on funds for Lynn's appeal, Lindy said. The archdiocese had previously paid for four defense lawyers, which cost at least $75,000 a week for a 10 week-trial, or a minimum of $750,000.

But the archdiocese had only allocated $25,000 for an appeal, which would be carried on by two of Lynn's defense lawyers, Thomas A. Bergstrom and Allison Khashkelis of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. The remaining two defense lawyers, Lindy and Alan J. Tauber, have basically been cut loose, Lindy said. Lindy has represented Msgr. Lynn since 2004.

Lindy's remarks prompted a bizarre two-paragraph response from the archdiocese public relations office that baffled the archdiocese's own lawyers:

"Msgr. Lynn's counsel is strongly convicted that there were many errors at trial and the sentence is disproportionate to other punishment meted out to administrators for this same charge. This strong belief and care for Msgr. Lynn and his family has resulted in Msgr. Lynn's primary counsel, Tom Bergstrom, deciding to complete the appeal for Msgr. Lynn largely on a pro bono basis."

"The Archdiocese has and continues to believe Msgr. Lynn is entitled to all the rights afforded him by civil law, including the appeal, and we noted when he was sentenced that we hope that the ultimate decision in Msgr. Lynn's regard is just and merciful."

You have to wonder who writes this stuff.

First of all, the monsignor's defense lawyer stood up in court today and argued that Lynn is the first administrator in the Commonwealth to be charged under the child endangerment statute. There are no other convictions to compare Lynn's to, as well as no other "punishment meted out to administrators for this same charge."

Secondly, the defense lawyers aren't seeking a "just and merciful" punishment for the monsignor, they seek to overturn his conviction on the grounds that he never should have been charged under the EWOC statute in the first place because it didn't apply to him. These contradictions were pointed out to Kenneth A. Gavin, the archdiocese official who issued the statement. His response was, "I can't say much more than the fact that Tom Bergstrom has decided to complete the appeal for Msgr. Lynn largely on a pro-bono basis."

We got that Ken. In response to the archdiocese's statement, Jeff Lindy, one of the archdiocese's defense lawyers, put out his own statement: "I have no idea what that statement means," Lindy wrote of the archdiocese missive. "Is the Archdiocese continuing to support Msgr. Lynn or not? If they are, then they would pay his attorneys' fees on appeal. But it looks like they are no longer supporting him because they've told Tom Bergstrom to have his big firm continue on the case pro bono, and they've told me that whether or not I stay on the case, they're not paying my legal fees on appeal. It certainly appears that the Archdiocese is pulling their financial support for Msgr. Lynn at precisely the point in time when he needs their support the most."

"If we were ever going to win this case, this is we're going to win it -- on appeal, to a dispassionate appellate court that will hear out case and our arguments with an open mind and not prejudge the case as the trial court did," Lindy said, taking a swipe at Judge Sarmina.

"I've been setting up this EWOC issue since long before Msgr. Lynn was indicted when I represented him alone, and then during the trial, my partner, Alan Tauber, persuasively wrote a brief on this issue," Lindy wrote in an email. "It really doesn't make any sense for the Archdiocese to now say that it needs to cap the legal fees that it's paying to Msgr. Lynn."

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput visited Msgr. Lynn in prison early last month. The two men met for 90 minutes, at which time the archbishop supposedly told the monsignor he had his back. But actions speak louder than words. The archdiocese has previously spent $11.6 million in 2011-12 to defend itself in response to the most recent grand jury report. Now Lynn's fate during the appeal process has been entrusted to a pro bono legal team.

To Lindy, a lawyer who's been working for the archdiocese for the past eight years, it doesn't make a lot of sense. No wonder he was shaking his head outside the Criminal Justice Center.

"It's the same institution that brought you the shredding of the documents," Lindy said, referring to Cardinal Bevilacqua's decision back in 1994 to order the shredding of a list of active abuser priests in ministry that Lynn had compiled.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Judge Gives Msgr. Lynn Three to Six Years In Slammer

Judge M. Teresa Sarmina told Msgr. William J. Lynn today that she was sentencing him to three to six years in state prison, because he had turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the suffering of victims of sex abuse.

"You knew full well what was right, Msgr. Lynn, but you chose wrong," she told the defendant, before imposing sentence. Lynn has been in jail since June 22, when he was convicted by a jury of one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a third-degree felony.

The judge contrasted Lynn's recent service at St. Joseph's Church in Downingtown, where he was pastor from 2004 until his indictment in 2011, to his 12-year-tenure as secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004.

The judge said she got hundreds of "heartfelt letters of support" on behalf of Lynn, many from parishioners at St. Joseph's, who told her that Pastor Lynn would drop every thing to help someone in need. But the judge said that as secretary for clergy, Msgr. Lynn had displayed insensitivity to victims. He was either promising to do something, and doing nothing, the judge said, or he was doing his best to "callously shield the priests."

As a consequence, the judge said, Lynn allowed "monsters in clerical garb," notorious archdiocese predators such as Stanley M. Gana, and Nicholas V. Cudemo, to "destroy the souls of children" in "the most terrible way."

Judge Sarmina said she believed that Lynn "started out with the best of intentions" when he became secretary for clergy in 1992. That's why, the judge said, she believed that Lynn drew up a list of 35 abuser priests in 1994, because he wanted them removed from active ministry.

But once the monsignor sent the list to his bosses, and heard nothing back, she said he figured out that those abuser priests on the archdiocese payroll weren't going anywhere. At that point, Lynn had a choice, the judge said. He could have "refused to be part of a sham that he knew was harming children," the judge said, or he could choose to stay.

The judge said she believed that Lynn was so hellbent on following the desires of his boss, Cardinal Bevilacqua, that he "steeled himself" whenever he met with victims, to "keep from hearing their pain and turmoil." In his position as secretary for clergy, Lynn had "a huge fiduciary duty" to protect children, the judge said, but "he steadfastly refused to hear and refused to see" the suffering of victims.

The judge said that Lynn was not a scapegoat, but was being "sentenced for choices he made," namely to ignore the suffering of sex abuse victims. Those victims "continue to be punished to this day," the judge said, with depression, failed relationships, drug and alcohol abuse problems, and suicide attempts.

The judge's decision followed more than two hours of legal arguments and tearful pleadings from character witnesses on behalf of the defendant, as well as brief speech from the monsignor himself.

Lynn stood in front of the judge wearing a black short-sleeve shirt, black pants, and his white priestly collar. He noted he had been a priest for 36 years. "I've tried to serve God as best I can," he said. "I've always tried to help people."

He apologized to the family of the victim in his child endangerment case, a former 10-year-old altar boy. He never intended to hurt anybody, Lynn said. He didn't even know the victim. "I never saw him until he testified at this trial."

He did his best, he said, adding, "the fact is, my best was not good enough."

Before the judge passed sentence, the defense presented seven character witnesses. Father Joseph G. Watson said he looked up to Msgr. Lynn since he was an 18-year-old seminarian back in the 1970s, and met the monsignor when he was dean of students at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

"He taught me about what it means to be a good priest, what it means to be a good man," Father Watson said of Msgr. Lynn. "He's always been a role model."

James Casey Jr., an insurance executive, testified that he knew Msgr. Lynn since he was 12 years old. He credited Msgr. Lynn with helping him through 9/11, when "I did lose a lot of friends on that day."

Casey told the judge how he broke down in tears one day, in front of family, and that week, Msgr. Lynn called, and insisted they have lunch. "His presence, his calmness kind of got me over that," Casey told the judge. Casey said it was "gut-wrenching to think of him [Lynn] sitting in a cell."

Sister John Magdalene Eibell, the principal of St. Joseph's grade school, testified how Pastor Lynn attended every concert, every basketball game. Another parishioner, Amy Zarilli, testified how Msgr. Lynn dropped everything to attend to a dying woman in a nursing home, at Zarilli's request.

Matthew Coyne, a father of seven who was studying to be a deacon, told the judge how Msgr. Lynn led a drive to build a new church at St. Joseph's.  He also looked up to he monsignor, he said, and he and it made him sick how every time somebody said something good about Lynn in the courtroom, people started shaking their heads like "someone's saying something dirty."

Jennifer Catanese, another parishioner at St. Joseph's, told the judge how Msgr. Lynn helped her cope with the death of one of her five children, and a subsequent miscarriage. "He was so warm and kind to us," at her first meeting, she said, before she started crying. "He's always shown such concern for our kids."

The last character witness was Erin Lynn, the monsignor's niece. "He's been our uncle and he supports us in everything," she said. The monsignor was a regular at all of Erin's soccer and basketball games. "He's the reason our family is as close as it is today," she said, blinking back tears.

She described how when the monsignor said Mass, he would gather kids in the family at the altar. "He made them care about the Mass," she said.

Defense attorney Thomas A. Bergstrom then stood to argue for leniency on behalf of the monsignor. He reminded the judge that the prosecution had not proved any "overarching conspiracy." He described the case as "a unique prosecution," because Lynn was found guilty of endangering a child "he never met, he never spoke to, he never touched."

It was also unique because during the trial, Bergstrom said, Msgr. Lynn had been called to account for the sins of archdiocese priests going back to the 1940s. Indeed, almost all of the rapes and molestations the jury heard about, Bergstrom said, happened well before Lynn took office as secretary for clergy in 1992.

"Be lenient with this good and decent man," Bergstrom implored.

Jeff Lindy, another Lynn defense lawyer, went through the traditional goals of sentencing: deterrence from preventing future crimes, deterrence to set an example for society so that others won't commit the same crime, rehabilitation, and retribution, meaning punishment for causing harm. In terms of deterrence, Lindy said, Msgr. Lynn was no longer secretary for clergy, so he was no longer "an instrument of the archdiocese." Therefore, Lynn posed no further threat to society.

Lynn also been through his share of rehab, and retribution, Lindy said. The monsignor has been under investigation for more than a decade, Lindy said. Also, the message has gone out that the crime Lynn committed will no longer be tolerated. His client's face has "been on the front page of every newspaper in the country," Lindy said. Lynn has been publicly humiliated; he's also lost his position as pastor of St. Joseph's, and will probably not get it back, Lindy said.

"He doesn't need rehab," said Lindy, who urged the judge to consider instead of incarceration, restorative sanctions such as probation, house arrest or work release.

Next up was Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, who promptly took a classless and  gratuitous swipe at Father Watson, the Catholic priest who had testified earlier that Lynn was a role model.

Somebody should ask Father Watson, Blessington yelled, "if he wants to aspire to be as good a criminal as Msgr. Lynn."

That brought a large audible groan from the packed house. As usual, Judge Sarmina did nothing to reign in the rampaging prosecutor.

Blessington then took a swipe at defense attorney Bergstrom, for arguing that the sins of archdiocese priests that Lynn was being held accountable for largely happened before he became secretary for clergy.

"I don't care if it happened in 1910," Blessington fumed. "They want special treatment," Blessington yelled at the monsignor's defense lawyers. But a jury decided that their client was a criminal, Blessington said.

Although the good deeds that the character witnesses talked about were done in public, Blessington said, the bad deeds were recorded on documents never meant to see the light of day.

"The secret archives," Blessington thundered. "The secret life of Bill Lynn!"

"We're talking about children being raped," Blessington yelled. Blessington went through letters that victims sent the judge. He brought up one letter sent by the husband of Diane Drinker, one of the victims of Nicholas Cudemo, who had been repeatedly sexually abused by the predator priest.

When Cudemo showed up to say Mass at the victim's home parish years after she was abused, Drinker sought help from Msgr. Lynn, who told her that Cudemo also had rights.

"Bill Lynn has arguably inflicted more harm on Diane then Cudemo," Blessington quoted the victim's husband as writing to the judge.

Blessington managed to turn the testimony of all seven character witnesses against the monsignor. It was hard to watch good people suffer, the prosecutor said. "All this suffering," Blessington said, including the tears of the character witnesses, happened "because he [Lynn] did what he did," the prosecutor said, jabbing his finger in the direction of the monsignor.

"He didn't show mercy, he doesn't get mercy," the prosecutor thundered. "He gets justice."

Judge Sarmina actually gave the monsignor a break with her three to six year sentence. Lynn was facing three and a half to seven years. The reaction to her decision was mixed.

"I think it was a fair verdict," said Slade McLaughlin, a lawyer who represents the family of the former 10-year-old altar boy who was orally sodomized by Father Edward V. Avery. It was Lynn's failure to prevent Avery from harming the 10-year-old altar boy that was the basis for Lynn's conviction on the endangerment charge.

"I will say that they [the victim's family] are happy that there's jail time" for Msgr. Lynn, McLaughlin told reporters outside the Criminal Justice Center. "I can tell you the young man has suffered greatly."

Next up to address reporters outside the Criminal Justice Center was District Attorney Seth Williams, who managed to do some political grand-standing before the facts got in the way.

"No matter what the sentence was, it wouldn't be enough," Williams told reporters. The district attorney complemented the judge by saying it was "ingenious how she used those letters"sent to her, both for and against Lynn. So far so good.

Williams said he believed the verdict, which he described as "unprecedented in American jurisprudence," had "sent a message" beyond Philadelphia that sex abuse will no longer be tolerated in America.  Ok, maybe he was getting a little carried away about a jury verdict where the Commonwealth lost on four of five counts.

Then Williams put his foot in his mouth, not once but twice. First he said that Lynn had done nothing when told about the rape of a 13-year-old girl. Williams said he is the father of three daughters, and if one of his daughters was raped, he would be outraged if somebody knew about it, and didn't tell him.

It's the second time the DA told this story, and both times he got it wrong. Williams first brought up the alleged rape of the 13-year-old girl at a press conference on June 22, after the verdict in this case. I have three daughters, the district attorney said that day, tearing up on cue. With TV cameras rolling, the district attorney told reporters on June 22 he would be mortified if one of his daughters was raped, and authorities "didn't tell me."

Don't you love a politician and family man who doesn't hesitate to use the theoretical rape of one of his daughters for political advantage?

The only problem is that the 13-year-old girl the fact-challenged district attorney was referring to was never raped. Here's what really happened, according to trial testimony: a married woman who was having an affair back in 2000 with a 27-year-old Lothario priest named Sylwester Wiejata told Lynn that she caught the priest kissing her 13-year-old daughter and fondling the girl's breast. When Lynn confronted the priest about it, he admitted it, and then fled the Commonwealth to go on a spiritual retreat in upstate New York. Lynn did not call police, he admitted to a grand jury in 2002. At least the district attorney didn't shed phony tears this time when he told the story.

Williams' next blunder was to assert that it was Msgr. Lynn who hid the 1994 list that he drew up of 35 abuser priests then in ministry. "He locked away in a vault the names of men who had abused children," the district attorney asserted. Now, he's going to be locked away in a vault, the district attorney said of Lynn.

The only problem was that according to trial testimony, Lynn left at least five copies of a memo accompanied by that list of abuser priests at a 1994 meeting he was summoned to with Cardinal Bevilacqua, Bishop Edward P. Cullen, and Msgr. James E. Molloy. A handwritten memo by Molloy in 1994 said he was ordered to destroy four copies of the memo, but he kept a fifth copy that could be found in the secretary for clergy's office. At this trial, an archdiocese employee testified that in 2006 that she hired a locksmith to open a locked safe in the secretary for clergy's office. Inside the safe, the locksmith discovered the memo and the list.

No testimony was ever introduced to show it was Lynn who hid the memo in a locked safe, but that didn't stop District Attorney Williams from inventing a new crime that Msgr. Lynn was allegedly guilty of. Aren't the facts in the case damning enough, Mr. District Attorney? Lynn also produced a copy of the memo for the grand jury in 2004, and although he didn't have a copy of the list, he told the grand jury all about the list, the circumstances under which it was drawn up, and why he compiled it.

When confronted with his factual error today, Williams looked confused, and then asserted, incorrectly, that evidence in the case showed that Lynn had hidden the list. One official watching the spectacle rolled his eyes. "If you don't know, ask," he said, shaking his head.

Instead of the big bodyguards that accompanied him, District Attorney Williams would have been better served if he was protected by a fact-checker.

The next protagonist to face the TV cameras was Bergstrom, Lynn's defense lawyer. Judge Sarmina, Bergstrom said, was "dead-ass wrong" on the facts, but "we're gonna move on" and appeal the case.

But he's not through with Judge Sarmina. In two weeks, she will hold another hearing on whether to allow Msgr. Lynn out on bail pending appeal. Bergstrom didn't seem to hold out much hope for winning that one either.

 

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