Tuesday, April 21, 2015

More Witnesses, More Stories Of Corruption, More Questions About Credibility In Rogue Cops Case

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

They came dressed in black, waving their guns and hiding their faces behind ski masks.

They wanted to know where the drugs and money were and when he didn't tell them he said they threatened to take his five young children away from him.

He spent the night in a police lockup without being charged and then, he said, he was literally held hostage over the next five days in a hotel near the airport, forced to give up the names of drug dealers he knew and to set up buys so that they could be arrested.

That was the story, told through a Spanish interpreter, that Rodolfo Blanco told a federal jury today in the trial of six Philadelphia Police Department narcotics cops accused of stealing more than $500,000 in cash and drugs from targeted dealers in what Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has called one of the worst cases of police corruption in the city's history.

Blanco, a 41-year-old barber who lived above his shop in the 4600 block of Frankford Avenue, is one of more than a dozen witnesses who have testified for the prosecution in the high profile case now in its fourth week. And like most of those witnesses, his testimony and credibility were challenged when the defense got to cross-examine him.

Blanco insisted he was not dealing drugs when police burst into his apartment around 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2006. He said a police report citing information from a confidential informant who said he routinely bought heroin in the barbershop was not true.

He also said that a document indicating that police had seized nine small plastic bags of heroin, a loaded assault rifle and a coffee grinder that later tested positive for heroin residue was fabricated. There were, he said, no drugs or guns in his apartment and there was no coffee grinder.

"The thing was, they told me if I gave them money, they would leave," said Blanco who was able to identify only one of the defendants, Thomas Liciardello, as part of the group that conducted the raid.

He said he pointed police toward his bedroom where, in a plastic pencil bag, he had $12,000. The cash, he claimed, was from the sale of a van. The indictment alleges that Liciardello and Jeffrey Walker,  another member of the alleged rogue unit, pocketed more than half the cash, claiming on a property receipt that only $5,960 had been seized.

Walker testified for the government last week, admitting that he routinely stole cash and drugs while working in the Narcotics Field Unit. 

Blanco said when he was taken to the hotel he was told "if I gave them somebody they would let me go." He said he was not in the drug business, but that "in a barbershop you hear a lot of things." So he called three individuals who he believed were drug dealers and set up buys. Each was arrested.

He also contacted a dealer in Florida.

All the while, Blanco said, he was in fear that his children, all under the age of six, would be taken away.

Life in the hotel wasn't exactly prison, he acknowledged, but he said he was nonetheless a hostage, unable to leave when he wanted. He said the police arranged for his wife to send him clothes and he said he and the police officers ate and drank at local restaurants and also played pool.

Eventually, he said, he told police he had no more names to give him and they released him without filing any charges. Shown another document that he had signed indicating he had agreed to become an informant, Blanco said he thought it was a paper he had to sign in order to be released. He said he understands English, but does not speak it well. And he said in 2006 he understood even less.

Under cross-examination, the thick-chested barber, who sported colorful tattoos on both sides of his neck, admitted that he had been arrested on a drug charge in 2010 in Delaware. He said he was transporting cocaine (about 500 grams) for a friend when he was arrest. He later pleaded guilty.

That, he said, was the only time he had ever been involved in drug dealing.

"It was a mistake," he said. "They caught me...(The police in Delaware) were doing their jobs." But the police in Philadelphia, he insisted, were not.

Blanco's testimony was sandwiched between two other accounts of alleged police corruption.

Earlier today Robert Silverstein, an admitted small time marijuana dealer, said police took $7,000 from a cigar box he kept in his apartment during a raid in February 2011. He identified defendants Michael Spicer and Perry Betts as part of the police crew that conducted the search of his apartment in the 7900 block of Horrocks Street.

Police, Silverstein acknowledged, did file a receipt indicating they had found $50,000 in a safe but did not list the $7,000 from the cigar box.

The day ended with Kenneth Williams on the stand. The one-time state trooper and admitted marijuana user, said police broke down the door of his home on North 51st Street on June 30, 2010. Liciardello, Betts, Spicer, Walker and co-defendant Linwood Norman are charged in that incident, according to the indictment.

Williams said the police seized $16,200 dollars, including $14,000 he had hidden in a suit pocket in his bedroom. A police report indicated that only $2,413 in cash had been found. The bulk of the $14,000, Williams said, came from a worker's comp settlement. He admitted that he sometimes added small amounts of cash if friends gave him money for some of the marijuana they would smoke together.

Asked why he didn't keep the $14,000 in a bank, Williams offered an explanation that underscores the problem the prosecution has with the parade of witnesses who have testified. Most have back stories that undermine -- or at least raise questions about -- their honesty and motivation.

"I had an issue with family court," Williams said.

When Assistant U.S. Attorney Wzorek said bluntly, "You were hiding the money?," Williams replied that he was.

"I was in arrears in payments for child support," he said.

More drug dealer victims are expected to take the stand when the trial resumes tomorrow. Indications are the prosecution could wrap up its case by the end of the week.

George Anastasia can be reached at George@bigtrial.net

36 comments:

  1. Inquiring minds wanna knowApril 21, 2015 at 8:06 PM

    Ok todays trust worthy witnesses
    A former conficted drug trafficker plead to cocain. Informant says he also dealt heroin at the barber shop. 2. Mr Silverstein oh yes is missing a cigar box with 7000 but got a receipt for 50.000 marijuana dealer right. 3. A former State Trooper who likes to bake and sell pot small time but is also a dead beat dad. Can they get anymore bottom feeders to testify tmrw of course its looney tunes. Thats all for today folks. Beep Beep!

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    1. And if it's not true Brian Sagar, then what do they deserve?

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    2. Would you say he is not the most credible witness because he signed a piece of paper saying that he was cooperating with them, that his wife brought her husband clean cloths while he was "kidnapped" ? Was it the part where he said the money was from the sale of a van that was still at his residence the day the police allegedly stole it from him ? how would they know what a van he had sold and he says was not at his home that day looked like?? was it that he was NOT a drug dealer and didnt have any drugs in the house or a gun but plead guilty to drug charges and has been arrested for drugs twice by other police officers? Im not a drug dealer nor a drug user and im impressed since he was "not" either he had drug dealers he could set up to be "let free" all the way from Florida. Just another sad and sloppy attempt by the Feds. Lie after lie after lie. Its amazing none of these guys use banks..........

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  3. Those six dirty narcs a friggin toast bro.

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    1. Oh look another educated criminal putting his two cents in.

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  4. Ok let.s Just say these guys did what these witnesses said. No where in this trial has one witness been able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these guys even commited these crimes. No evidence no pictures except for walker carrying out 5 pounds was it and 15.000 cashon his persons which he himself admitted to doing then cut a deal and made up storys to incriminate others. One thing all these witnesses have in common they are 1 or 2 time losers trying to cut there sentences.That is the only thing they proven here by lying there drug dealing asses off. Theres no denying that.a Tom and his crew might be a bunch of Jerkoffs and i haven.t seen where u could go to Jail for that. Because if you could you would have to lock up everybody in North Philly and definitely in So Philly where it is there birth rite to be a Jerkoff and havn.t seen anyone arrested for that including myself Lol

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    1. I cant argue you there. But lets just wait and see what this jury decides.
      Breeze(northphilly)

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    2. What about what the first witness and second witnesses said. Walker basically corroborated everything Kushner and Cascioli said. So what he doesn't remember the exact details. This was 10 years ago and Walker, Licciardello etc robbed way more guys then they can remember. If the jist of both stories matches that should be what is important. Our country is based on a process. Criminals may be undesirable characters but our constitution affords everybody the same rights. There is a process for cops and criminals and if it is violated it results in anarchy. These cops are wrong plain and simple. They maybe hurting people nobody cares about, but that's exactly why they pick those targeted people. Gary Ridgeway the Green River killer killed 56 prostitutes over a 20 year span. He preyed on victims he knew would slip thru the cracks, because they were considered unimportant prostitutes and a drain on society and nobody missed them. Should we let him out of jail for that, because he hurt people no one cares about? NO! They are still someones daughter, mother, sister etc and they have rights. If you all want to be hypocritical and say these cops did nothing wrong because they hurt drug dealers you are wrong. They used that same logic to set up perfect crimes they knew they could get away with. They are all veterans of the force and knew the procedures necessary to cross the line and not get caught. No one is saying these guys are dumb, they are smart street dudes who had the perfect hustle until they didn't.
      Lastly, if Walker was such a terrible cop, sleeping during stakeout, coming drunk why wouldn't they report him. If they are in a bad situation I would not want one of my guys lacking if I was Tom Liccardello. They do lock some bad people up and I would want my team to be 100%. If a player doesn't make the grade you cut him. Oh wait, they couldn't because he was one of six keys to all this information of robbery etc. and knew everything. They needed each other to carry on their life as they were accustomed to it. Maybe if they were nicer to Walker and didn't ridicule him they would still be out on the streets robbing and stealing loving their life. Prior to Walker coming clean, its their word against a drug dealers. Wonder where that deck is stacked? Never would have been caught then. Whoops!
      You can all visit them in solitary locked up in the future, they cant face the criminals they locked up without badges, can't face cops they disgraced, maybe Licciardello should take his own advice. Never mind, his napoleon complex and narcissism tendencies will never allow him to do that. Hope he gets the help he needs, its gonna be tough in 23/1 for the next 20 years.

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    3. 1) Kushner and Casciolis stories were the ones who, in my opinion, were contradicted the most. 2) NO one ever said it is ok for the cops to do what they are accused of because they are doing it to drug dealers. The drug dealers who are on the stand look like pathetic liars and no one believes a word they are saying. 3) They did cut Walker off. Try to follow the story a little better.

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    4. How were their stories contradicted. Walker admitted to taking a safe down 17 flights of steps, it said Kushner lived on 18th floor, and hanging Cascioli off the balcony. They said he targeted college white preppy males, both fit the bill. Lastly, they didn't cut Walker off, the made fun of him and ostracized him. They didn't offer him help or tell their superiors about Walker and its not safe for him to be on the job. Why do the drug dealers look like liars, it seems as though both stories are the same.

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    5. Walker said he carried a safe down 17 flights of steps, Kushers girl friend testified- she lived in the apartment, when asked she said she NEVER saw a safe in their apartment. A safe kushner claims was bolted in the floor, a safe large enough to hold that much money bolted to the floor but someone living in the apartment never even saw it- that's amazing. Walker said he carried it down 17 flights and then he got tools to break it open, when asked where he got the tools to break it open he said he didn't remember. When asked how much was in the safe he said 30,000 Kushner said there was 80,000 in the safe. PEOPLE ARE LYING HERE....SO WHO IS IT???

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    6. And don't even get me started on Cascioli, he mine as well have pergured him self. So yes, before you comment try to follow the story a little better ( agreed )

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    7. Walker was doing this LONG before he went to that squad, walker needed help, LONG before he went to that squad.

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    8. Anonymous 7.06 I think your hatred for these officers is blinding your rational judgement. We who feel there not guilty are only going by the articles that where written by those listening in the court house. As for you anonymous haters i believe most of you are the witnesses who testified or those locked up by these officers doing there Jobs and getting convictions on which there evidence and facts were not tainted unlike those witnesses and walker who have lied there asses off to cut there sentences. Also i believe there is a few cops who post on here because of there Jealousy for the accolades these officers got. Listen not everybody cut out to being narco officers. Some guys are better at pushing the mike and dealing with traffic ' domestic or other hazardous dutys of the Job. Don.t worry someday this could be you up there fighting for your lifes because one of your scum bag buddies wants to save his ass. Food for thought.

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    9. So you know what they told their supervisors about Walker? Why dont we wait and see what those supervisers have to say when they take the stand.

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  5. Agrees w/JB. I'm saddened to think police officers making $43k+ yearly would even think about pocketing $$. -Traci from upstate PA

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  6. When this is all over, some enterprising journalist needs to do an investigative piece on how this whole thing ever got to trial. We have a dirty cop, who in order to save himself, makes a deal with the prosecution and fingers a slew of other police officers, yet only these six are magically charged. We have, after thousands of arrests by these officers, nineteen drug dealers looking for revenge and to cash in after the FBI approaches them years after their arrests. We have the FBI who takes the word of convicted drug dealers as gospel but refuses to interview police supervisors because they determined their statements wouldn't be credible. We have a police commissioner who makes biased and inflammatory statements in the media regarding this case. And after years and years of investigation, we have zero audio or video evidence of wrongdoing. Someone needs to investigate what the motives were for bringing this case to trial in the first place. Something doesn't smell right here.

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    1. Dateline NBC would be all over this for one of their episodes.

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  7. I think all you pro not guilty people live in a fantasy world, sounds like you are all cops put in your two sense into it, please let me enlighten you .trials!have cooperating witnesses of all walks of life testified for the government, County trials, state trials, schedule trials, to get a reduced sentence, that's the way the courtroom works, you people are acting like you're seeing it for the first time, Sammy the bull, don't you remember him,other witnesses just like him, this is nothing new in the courtroom,if the cops get convicted, they too will have a chance to cooperate, before sentencing, if they don't cooperate that judge is going to roof them . that is jail slang ,for the judge giving them a lot of time.they will have their chance to cooperate and testify against other

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    2. They cant plead out prior to trial it wouldn't make sense. They are all co-defendants. If one admits wrongdoing they all admit wrong doing. They got away with it so many times for so long they feel invincible. They think no way we are going to get convicted and their overly cocky. Tom will never plead out he has too much to lose, and if any of the other plead out the ones that go to trial will have no chance. They are afraid to labeled snitches and have been brain washed into thinking they have a chance to win. At best they verdict is split and they end up doing time, maybe not as significant as deserved. Worst case they are coming home as senior citizens. You can bet on that.

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  8. I think all you pro not guilty people live in a fantasy world, sounds like you are all cops put in your two sense into it, please let me enlighten you .trials!have cooperating witnesses of all walks of life testified for the government, County trials, state trials, schedule trials, to get a reduced sentence, that's the way the courtroom works, you people are acting like you're seeing it for the first time, Sammy the bull, don't you remember him,other witnesses just like him, this is nothing new in the courtroom,if the cops get convicted, they too will have a chance to cooperate, before sentencing, if they don't cooperate that judge is going to roof them . that is jail slang ,for the judge giving them a lot of time.they will have their chance to cooperate and testify against other

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    1. I think most everyone understands the role of a cooperating witness in the American justice system. However, this trial thus far has lacked corrobative evidence to Walker's lies, I mean testimony. The parade of drug dealing witnesses have not been able to keep their own lies straight, and have at times contradicted Walker's testimony. This should lead a reasonable person (juror) to pause or hesitate, resulting in a Not Guilty verdict.

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  9. r u kidding me these cops r scum... 30 years in the whole........

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    1. Yet another who should get off the streets and into a classroom.

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    2. Whole what? Or do you mean hole? Lol

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    3. There's always a few on every article

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  10. The jury will find them guilty of some if not all charges just that simple people. Its America and a Movie in the making. This is the rules of our society.
    The Feds will bury them in closing arguments for sure.

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    1. The Feds are almost done and the only thing they have burried so far....are them selves. That's For Sure!!

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    2. Please explain what the rules of our society are?

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  11. You dont get it man. The civil suit goes on no matter what! An example: you suing for settlement 30g A guilty verdict you get it/not guilty verdict cuts that number down to 10 or 15g . Thats the difference. Civil rights violation are facts in this case already. This same judge will award the civil suit simply because the City itself as defendant becomes at fault for the actions of these six creep ex dirty narcs.

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  12. feds need to bring in Chief inspector Boyle .

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  13. Why are the Mayoral candidates and City Council not asking Chief Inspector Tony Boyle , to tell His side of the story why he got transfer . The E Mails He sent out to 13,000 active and retirees accusing Commissioner Ramsey of Covering up crimes , and eeo complaints concerning female officers . Also Commissioner Ramsey cover for inspector Horne and Captain McCloskey . He said they did not commit felonies they made a mistake .




    He also accused Commissioner Ramsey of promoting unqualified people . Also why did the Commissioner Replace Chief Inspector Boyle , with Chief inspector Chris Werner ? Chief Werner refused to cooperate with a FBI investigation concerning corruption in narcotics . He wanted immunity from prosecution . Deputy Commissioner Blackburn wanted immunity also . We need a federal grand jury to investigate Commissioner Ramsey and his Deputy Commissioners . Below are the words of Chief Inspector Tony Boyle . We want the truth .

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  14. Don't look to the Inquirer to do an accurate, unbiased reporting story, they have not gotten one case right yet, the Feds are always right. I want the reporters jobs, just write what the prosecutors hand them. Whomever the feds indict are always criminals, no sense getting to the bottom of the story, just assume the worst of the accused. Cant believe the most important story recently concerning the FBI hair analysis being wrong 95 % of the time, 32 people sentenced to death of those 14 have been executed or died in prison, thousands more sent to prison on faulty evidence. The Washington Post broke the story Sunday April 19, the Inquirer ran three sentences on the piece. The Justice Department and the FBI formally admitted the error, it happened over a two decade period ending in the year 2000. But I suppose it did not effect anyone at the Inquirer or Daily News and it may make the FBI look bad, god forbid.

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