Friday, July 31, 2015

Sixth Narcotics Officer Files Libel Claim

By Ralph Cipriano
Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer

The sixth defendant in the so-called "rogue cops" case has filed a libel and defamation claim against District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, and Mayor Michael Nutter.

Officer Linwood Norman filed a writ of summons Thursday in Common Pleas Court notifying the city that he was suing the three officials.

Norman's suit follows an amended defamation claim filed last week in federal court against the same three city officials on behalf of the other five defendants in the rogue cops case -- Officers Michael Spicer, Brian Reynolds, Perry Betts, John Speiser and Thomas Liciardello -- as well as the group's former supervisor, Lt. Robert Otto.

Now all six defendants who beat the rap are suing the city for defamation.

"Officer Norman was one of the six allegedly 'sick scumbags' referred to by Mayor Nutter after the indictment and he was one of the six officers who apparently was so contemptible and despicable according to Commissioner Ramsey that his badge needed to be melted," said Christopher D. Mannix, the lawyer who filed both lawsuits on behalf of the former narcotics officers and their supervisor.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Judge Finds Jeffrey Walker A "Truthful And Credible" Witness

By Ralph Cipriano

Judge Eduardo Robreno today described Jeffrey Walker, the dirty cop-turned government cooperator, as a "truthful and credible" witness. What's more, the judge said, Walker's testimony withstood the "crucible" of cross-examination by a half-dozen skilled defense lawyers.

The jury, however, didn't see it that way on May 14th when they rejected Walker's testimony and acquitted six defendants on all 47 counts of a RICO indictment.

But an undeterred Judge Robreno approved a downward departure in the sentencing guidelines for Walker, and gave him 42 months in jail. The judge squared his findings that Walker was truthful and credible with the jury verdict by saying there was a difference between being found not guilty and being innocent.

Monday, July 27, 2015

"Rogue" Cops Sue Rufus, Ramsey & Nutter For Defamation

 Three "Grandstanding" Public Officials Targeted In "Laughable" Prosecution
By Ralph Cipriano

Five of the "rogue" cops who won their jobs back, as well as their supervisor, have filed a  defamation and false light suit against District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, and Mayor Michael A. Nutter.

The suit seeks monetary and punitive damages for the irresponsible "grandstanding" done by Williams, Ramsey and
Nutter in the rogue cops case, according to an amended complaint filed July 24th in U.S. District Court by Philadelphia lawyer Christopher D. Mannix.

The lawsuit, the most entertaining court file I've read in years, has been ignored so far by the Inquirer, and confined to just four paragraphs near the bottom of a 34-paragaph story in today's Daily News about the sentencing of Jeffrey Walker, the government's star witness. But the defamation lawsuit for the first time tells the back story behind the rogue cops case only whispered about at trial -- a petty turf battle between law enforcement agencies allegedly feuding over drug forfeiture money and credit for drug busts. It was a feud supposedly set off by the blunt personality of Officer Thomas Liciardello, the former leader of the Narcotics Field Unit.

The amended complaint also shines an unflattering spotlight on the inner workings of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office its dealings with the media, especially a cozy relationship with Fox 29.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Defense Lawyer: Father Andy Wasn't Suspended For Sexual Misconduct; He Also Passed A Polygraph Test

By Ralph Cipriano

Contrary to popular belief, Father Andrew McCormick was never suspended by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for sexual misconduct. The priest also passed a lie detector test.

So wrote Trevan Borum, the priest's defense lawyer, in a motion for mistrial filed during Father Andy's second criminal trial that ended March 11th with a hung jury. At the time the motion for a mistrial was filed, the case was under a gag order.

The defense lawyer's claim about the priest's suspension contradicts what was said about Father Andy at trial by a key prosecution witness as well as the prosecutor. It also contradicts a Philadelphia Daily News story.

The defense lawyer's claim about Father Andy passing a lie detector test contradicts a civil lawsuit filed July 10th against the priest by the alleged victim in the criminal case.

When asked for comment, Borum would only say, "I was disappointed that the rules of fair play meant nothing when trying to convict a priest by any means necessary."

A spokesperson for the district attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Jimmy Binns Vs. The Daily News

By Ralph Cipriano

In one corner, we have Helen Ubinas, a Philadelphia Daily News columnist who can't believe those "rogue cops" got their jobs back. She wants to know why our top city officials who previously did so much political grandstanding  in this case don't have much to say about it anymore.

In the other corner we have Jimmy Binns, the veteran defense lawyer who not only represented Rocky on the silver screen but also Michael Spicer, one of the rogue cops who beat the rap and got his job back. The same Jimmy Binns who publicly predicted to Judge Eduardo Robreno at a bail hearing last August that his guy would beat all the charges and walk out of federal court a free man.

In her July 15th column, Ubinas wrote about how Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, the guy who described the rogue cops scandal as "one of the worst cases of corruption" that he ever heard, sounded like a beaten puppy when she talked to him. After all six cops were acquitted by a jury on all 47 counts, Ramsey told Ubinas, "It was just a matter of time" before they got their jobs back . . . That's our system, unfortunately."

Ubinas wrote Binns an email seeking a copy of the arbitrator's decision that reinstated the six former narcotics officers. Binns responded by writing Big Trial a letter where he ripped Ubinas's column as "silly" and the "naive musings" of a "know-nothing" reporter and her editors.

As a public service, Big Trial will attempt to mediate this dispute and make everybody happy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

This Time It's About The Money

By Ralph Cipriano

At both of Father Andrew McCormick's criminal trials, the alleged victim in the case, as well as the prosecutor, made a point of saying that the victim who claimed he was sexually abused as a 10-year-old altar boy wasn't in it for the money.

That's why he hadn't filed a civil suit, the victim said on the witness stand at both trials.

On March 6, 2014, at Father Andy's first trial, the priest's defense lawyer, William J. Brennan, cautioned the jury that although the alleged victim had not yet filed a civil suit against the archdiocese, "I don't know what he's gonna do tomorrow."

If people keep telling you, "It's not about the money, it's about the money," Brennan told the jury.

On July 10, the alleged victim in the case fulfilled Brennan's prophecy by filing a civil suit in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, John Doe v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Msgr. William Lynn, and Father Andrew McCormick.

Both of Father Andy's trials ended in deadlocked juries. On April 10th, after the second mistrial in 14 months, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp told Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright that the D.A.'s office would not retry the case a third time. But now the alleged victim is after Father Andy in the civil courts. And in the civil complaint, "John Doe" is seeking damages of more than $50,000, plus punitive damages.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Billy Doe Part of Rolling Stone Libel Suit Over False Rape Story

By Ralph Cipriano

Lawyers in a nationally prominent libel suit pitting a University of Virginia dean against Rolling Stone magazine are sparring in court over the veracity of Billy Doe.

Billy Doe is a grand jury's pseudonym for a former Northeast Philly altar boy who claimed he was raped by two priests and and a Catholic school teacher. Billy's allegations at two historic criminal trials here in Philadelphia sent his three alleged assailants in jail, as well as Msgr. William J. Lynn, for not preventing the alleged abuse.

The libel suit that seeks $7.5 million was brought by Associate Dean Nicole P. Eramo of UVA over the November 2014 publication by Rolling Stone of "A Rape on Campus; A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice At UVA." The article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, since retracted, claimed that "Jackie," a student at the University of Virginia, had been allegedly gang-raped by seven men at a fraternity party. Eramo's lawsuit calls the story a "monumental hoax."

But it may not be the reporter's only screwup. Three years before she wrote about Jackie for Rolling Stone, Erdely wrote a story about Billy for Rolling Stone that accepted as gospel Doe's fantastic rape claims. The article was titled, "The Catholic Church's Sex-Crime Files: How a scandal in Philadelphia exposed documents that reveal a high-level conspiracy to cover up decades of sexual abuse."

In the legal complaint filed by Dean Eramo in the Circuit Court of the city of Charlottesville, VA, the plaintiff's lawyers wrote that "Following the debunking of 'A Rape on Campus,' Newsweek examined the Billy Doe story, determining that 'the factual discrepancies in Jackie's story are dwarfed by the factual discrepancies in Billy's story" and also "noting Billy Doe's 'astonishing lack of credibility."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Pope, Billy Doe & Msgr. Lynn

By Ralph Cipriano

Billy Doe, the truth-challenged former altar boy who's seeking to cash in on his improbable tale of serial sex abuse, was originally scheduled to go to trial against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Aug. 3rd.

The Pope is scheduled to be in Philadelphia a month later, from Sept. 25-27, for the World Meeting of Families.

What were the chances of the Pope and Billy, however briefly, sharing a media spotlight?

Apparently none. As of July 10, on the court docket there's a new trial date posted for Billy Doe v. the Archdiocese of Philadelphia et al -- Nov. 9th.

Meanwhile, when Pope Francis visits Philadelphia, he's scheduled to visit the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road in Northeast Philly. But one of the inmates the Pope won't be meeting with is Msgr. William J. Lynn.

According to Lynn's lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, the monsignor, the first Catholic administrator in the country to go to jail for failing to reign in predator priests, was moved last week from Curran-Fromhold. Lynn is now at SCI Waymart,  a state prison located two and a half hours north of the city. Bergstrom said he doubts "the Pope will go to Waymart."

It's kind of amazing how two potential embarrassments for the archdiocese during the Pope's upcoming visit have just disappeared.

Friday, July 10, 2015

"Rogue" Cops Get Their Jobs Back

Michael Spicer [left] with Brian Reynolds and Perry Betts
By Ralph Cipriano

An arbitrator ruled today that all six defendants in the alleged "rogue cops" case are getting their jobs back.

"They are back on the payroll right now," James J. Binns, the lawyer who represented Officer Michael Spicer, said of the six defendants. "They're being paid as of today."

The former narcotics officers will also be receiving a year's worth of back pay.

"Obviously it's been recognized that these men never did anything wrong and they've been totally vindicated of all the charges that have been leveled against them," Binns said. "Mike [Spicer]'s on cloud nine."

Monday, July 6, 2015

Scarfo's Lawyer Points To Russian Mob In FirstPlus Case

By George Anastasia

There might have been some mobsters lurking behind the FirstPlus Financial fraud case, a lawyer for lead defendant Nicodemo S. Scarfo said in legal papers filed recently, but their drink of choice would have been vodka not vino.

In an apparent attempt to distant himself from co-defendant Salvatore Pelullo -- and also get a shot at a new trial, Scarfo -- through his lawyer Michael Riley -- has argued that there was an "alternative theory" to the government's organized crime pitch in the high profile case and that he was denied the opportunity to present it. 

Pelullo, an Elkins Park businessman with two prior fraud convictions and a Ukrainian-born wife, might have been kicking back funds from the multi-million dollar scam to Russian gangsters rather than Scarfo's Lucchese crime family, Riley wrote in a motion filed last month.

"In retrospect the connections to the Russian mob are far more substantial than those with Uncle Vic," Riley argued. The "Uncle Vic" reference is to Vittorio Amuso, the jailed boss of the Lucchese crime family who was named, along with Scarfo's father Nicodemo D. "Little Nicky" Scarfo, as an unindicted co-conspirator in the looting of FirstPlus, a Texas-based mortgage company.


Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog | Copyright © 2020 | Privacy Policy