Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"This Is Training Day Fuckin' For Real"

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

He said they were all dressed in black and wearing ski masks and his first thought was that it was "the Mafia" coming to rob him.

It turns out, according to a federal indictment, that Michael Cascioli was half right. They were coming to rob him. But it wasn't the Mafia. It was the cops.

Cascioli, once a major marijuana dealer in the Philadelphia area, spent four hours on the witness stand today describing his November 2007 encounter with what prosecutors allege was a rogue and out-of-control group of Philadelphia Police Department narcotics officers.

The soft-spoken 39-year-old was the second key witness to take the stand in the federal racketeering conspiracy trial of six officers accused of stealing more than $500,000 in cash and drugs from dealers they targeted over a four-year period. They used threats and violence to carry out the scheme, according to a 26-count indictment, and then falsified official arrest reports to cover their actions.

The alleged assault on Cascioli, carried out on the night of Nov. 26 and through the early morning hours of Nov. 27, was part of a pattern of corruption outlined in the indictment. His testimony, a description of a night of terror in his 19th floor apartment at the Executive House on City Avenue, fleshed out the details that are at the heart of the case.

At one point, he said, the police threatened to throw him off the apartment balcony, lifting him off his feet as they carried him to the railing while letting  him stare into the dark night and a parking lot 19 floors below.

"We'll just throw you off. Nobody would know," Cascioli said he was told by Thomas Liciardello, who has been described as the leader of the rogue group of cops.

Earlier, when he asked for a lawyer, Cascioli said Liciardello replied, "Fuck you." At another point, as he said police pressured him to tell them where he kept his money and who his suppliers were, he said Liciardelli asked him if he knew the movie Training Day.

Cascioli said he knew the film in which Denzel Washington stars as a violently corrupt cop.

"This is Training Day fuckin' for real," he said Liciardello replied.

The indictment alleges that four of the six officers charged in the case where part of the group that dealt with Cascioli that night. In addition to Liciardello, Perry Betts, Michael Spicer and Linwood Norman were identified as part of the team that conducted the search. The other two defendants in the case, John Speiser and Brian Reynolds, were not named in the Cascioli episode but face other charges.

Cascioli said his confrontation with police began around 7 p.m. after he received a call from Robert Kushner who lived one floor below him. Kushner wanted to buy some drugs. (Kushner, the first witness called in the trial, testified yesterday that Liciardelli and two other officers pressured and threatened him, forcing him to give up his drug sources.)

Carrying a black bag in which he had put two pounds of marijuana and one pound of hallucinogenic mushrooms, Cascioli said he left his apartment and began to walk toward a stairwell that would take him to the 18th floor when he spotted several men dressed in black coming toward him. He said he tried to run, but was tackled in the hallway and forced back into his apartment.

He said the men identified themselves as police, but never showed him a search warrant and never read him his rights. When he asked for a lawyer, Liciardello dismissed the request with an expletive.

Beatings, threats and several trips to the balcony followed over the next four or five hours, he said. All of it was designed to get him to give up information about his suppliers and to tell where he had his money.

He said he eventually did both.

Cascioli said he was earning between $30,000 and $50,000-a-month at the time and had stashed $424,000 at different locations. None of that money, however, was in the apartment. But he did have 15 pounds of marijuana and eight pounds of mushrooms along with about $900 in cash.

He said police swarmed through his apartment searching for more drugs and money and continually threatening him. He said he was punched, choked and thrown into a wall. He said he was also left on the balcony, dressed in shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops, for about a half hour during the cold night.

Different members of the police department came and went, he said, including a Chief Inspector who showed up and stayed for about 10 minute. Cascioli said the inspector appeared "tipsy" and left shortly after arriving.

At one point during the night, he said, police called a pizzeria and had several pies delivered, using some of his cash to pay the bill. But that, he later admitted under cross-examination, was the only money taken from him illegally.

He said his apartment was ransacked and that he later determined that several valuables were stolen, including two Movado watches, sun glasses and a Versace sweat suit.

Under cross-examination, Cascioli was less forthcoming, at first refusing to identified his major customers whom he said were "lawyers, doctors and moms."

"I'd prefer not to give names," he said in response to a question from Jack McMahon, one of the defense attorneys. 

"And I'd prefer to be in the Caribbean right now, but I'm not," McMahon shot back.

Judge Eduardo Robreno ruled that Cascioli should be required to identified his customers. With that the witness named one of a half dozen customers, but said he couldn't remember or didn't know the names of the others. One, he said, was a lawyer whom he nicknamed "The Jew." Another was an executive at a marketing firm. A third was someone named Mike.

 Cascioli said he was forced to set up his main supplier, a Bronx-based drug dealer whom he called that night and who was arrested when he showed up early the next morning at the Executive House. He also admitted under cross-examination that he lied to FBI agents who questioned him after his arrest about where he kept his money.

Authorities eventually seized over $400,000. About $324,000 was at the home of Cascioli's brother in Maryland. Another $80,000 was in a safe he had placed in the home of a friend in Bryn Mawr.

Cascioli said a year after the raid he pleaded guilty to drug charges and was sentenced to 13 months in state prison. He said he never filed a complaint about his treatment while his case was being adjudicated and said he never returned to his apartment after that night.

"I wanted to get as far away as possible," he said, adding that he now lives in another state.

He said he was contacted by the FBI in October 2013 about the current case and agreed to tell them what had happened to him and testify against the officers.

This led to a question from Jeffrey Miller, the lawyer for Liciardello, that underscored what are emerging as the key issues in the trial -- the crediliby, honesty and motivation of the drug dealer witnesses. 

Miller returned to Cascioli's refusal to identify the customers to whom he sold bulk quantities of marijuana and mushrooms.

"So you're will to name police officers," Miller said, pointing to the table where the six defendants sat, "but you're not willing to name drug dealers?'

Cascioli said he didn't want to identify those he sold to, but insisted he couldn't remember or didn't know their names.

He also acknowledged that he is considering a civil suit. But said if he does bring a civil action, it won't be for money.

"I don't want money," he said. "My rights were violated...I want to win."

George Anastasia can be contacted at George@bigtrial.net.

27 comments:

  1. Inquiring minds wanna knowApril 1, 2015 at 6:47 PM

    Ok what.s the problem here no money taken.
    What.s the Barber say next. This is a witness?

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  2. Wait a minute.....I read an article in the daily news how he was hung over a balcony by his feet. Now he was just threatened with it? This is the most ridiculous trial I have ever followed in my life.

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    1. agreed... these officers put their lives on the line to protect our community. and what do they get in return, a BS indictment of BS allegations from Ahole drug dealers. i have no sympathy for these thugs - you live by the streets you die by the streets, isn't that the standard code of conduct?

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    2. No thats not not the Code of the streets but-DO THE CRIME YOU PAY THE TIME IS!!!!! And this Code is not not just for the streets or just drug dealers but for any one in this country commits a crime. Those 6 dirty (ex-narcos) should live by this as well...F them dirty no good toads.

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    3. you seem angry (or offended). all of these alleged victims turned coat and flipped on their dealers - not one of them did much time - if any. these officers have been on the force for 20+ years and out of thousands upon thousands of arrests only 18 people have some bs story to tell. it's always the cops fault (i.e. "them cops be picking on me") never the act committed. here's a tip - be a law abiding citizen, do the right thing, and "these cops wont be picking on you"

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    4. Definately right about one thing...these 6 porkchops wont be picking on any one where they are headed(20-45 Marion ILL Fed Pen.)

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  3. Newly-released documents indicate that misconduct by police officers has cost the city of Philadelphia $40 million in losses and settlements since the beginning of 2009. That's about $19,000-worth of bad cops every single day for nearly six years. Excessive force alone has cost the city more than $13,400,000

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    1. There are also lawyers who make a living off of telling criminals to sue cops and the City of Philadelphia. Philadelphia also settles with most without even doing an investigation and lawyers know this. Sue the City...what do the criminals have to lose???

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    2. I think police guy Brian Renolds should be set free.

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  4. His rights were violated..... Screw his rights - did he care about the kids when he was selling drugs to their mother. Effing scumbag!

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  5. What strikes me as very strange is that these officers were investigated for years and the prosecution does not have any audio or video evidence to back up these allegations. None of these drug dealers filed complaints at the time of their arrest or shortly after their arrest. These drug dealers were contacted by the FBI, granted immunity and are looking for revenge and an easy payday.

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    1. I agree 200%

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    2. and their stories keep changing....I like the part where he felt violated because his apartment was ransacked!! Are the supposed to come in and lift a cushion and place it neatly back in place??Take out clothes from a drawer and fold everything neatly back??? When did we start feeling so badly for criminals? Until you show me a wire tap, a video or something showing me the cops did something wrong, I'm on their side.

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  6. No audio or video to prove any of these allegations, this entire care is so stupid, so what tommy has a loud mouth and called the shots, someone has to be a leader in the group. If you weren't selling drugs and committing crimes to begin with then they would of never been following you in the first place, a bunch of damn low life drug dealers who are looking to cash in and ruin these officers lives and well being. They put their live on the line day in and day out to protect us citizens and this is what they get in return, 18 or 19 no good low lives and a dirty drunk cop caught in the act red handed. Its a bunch of he said she said, I wish they would of threw his ass over the balcony. I hope all 6 walk and sue the pants off the messed up city and shame on the feds for entertaining such bullshit

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  7. Yo cuz Philadium got shut down, where am I going to watch the Final Four?

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    1. Stogie Joes

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    2. Rumor had it Marty was looking to buy it Pam was gonna lone him the money she earned while he was in the Joint. Lol

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  8. Cops are in the media everyday behaving just as bad as the thugs they arrest. Look at the cops cutting the wires out of the papi stores so they can rob the store. Lol okay all cops are not corrupt but you have more than a handful that are. You'll be surprised some of the things cops did before they joined law enforcement. A lot of them are not there to enforce anything that doesn't serve their ego or pockets. Google the story of a very well known detective in New York all the dirt he did before he got into law enforcement. He claims that made him a better cop cause he knew the game. Lol I don't doubt anything from anyone cop or not. People can be so naive.

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    1. What the media failed to tell you was that those cameras were cut down and submitted as evidence by those police officers. It also came out later that the daily news reporters were paying the bills of those store owners in exchange for them to come up with accusations against those cops.

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  9. Anybody remember 5 squad??!!

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  10. Hey George, great article as usual. I've been a big fan of your reporting since way back. I'm dying to read all your award-winning books but can't find them in my local library. Do you have any tips on where to illegally download pirated versions of your copyrighted works? Thanks in advance!

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    1. Yes just contact mob boss Uncle Joe LIgambi on the corner of 17th and Forresthill in south philly he controls what can be downloaded.

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  11. Roast them 6 pork chops. They are criminals point blank. Let their families and kids send them comimsary money so they can eat oddles of noodles for dinner. F them!!! No sympathy here.

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    1. Hey Dogg thems Boys are coming home Yo for real Dogg.
      NOT GUILTY YO! !!!!!!!!

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  12. great life imitating art or vice versa

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  13. George what do u thinck about the latest on Kathleen kane and Louis denaples/

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