Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Spanier's Lawyers Say Statute Had Run On Crime He Was Convicted Of

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Graham Spanier's conviction on a single count of child endangerment doesn't make much sense from a variety of different angles, his lawyers argued in an appeal brief filed yesterday in Commonwealth Court.

First, the crime that the former Penn State president was convicted of was Spanier's response, or alleged lack thereof, to an alleged 2001 rape in the Penn State showers of a ten-year-old boy, a crime supposedly witnessed by wacky whiste blower Mike McQueary.

Let's skip over the fact that McQueary told five different versions of the story about what he supposedly saw and heard in the shower that night, and that he later admitted in writing in an email to the prosecutor that they got the grand jury report wrong, and that he had never actually seen a rape.

The statute of limitations for child endangerment in Pennsylvania is only two years. So by the time the attorney general's office got around to charging Spanier, in 2012, the statute on the 2001 imaginary sex-in-the-showers crime had long expired.

Sandusky's Lawyers Charge A.G.'s Office With Brady Violations

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Lawyers for Jerry Sandusky yesterday charged the state Attorney General's office with prosecutorial misconduct for withholding a revelatory email exchange between the lead prosecutor in the case, and her distraught star witness.

A day before the judge in the case was expected to announce whether Sandusky would be granted a new trial under the Post Conviction Relief Act [PCRA], lawyers Alexander H. Lindsay Jr. and J. Andrew Salemme filed a motion in Centre County Common Pleas Court asking the judge to reopen the record, admit newly discovered evidence, and convene a hearing to question former Deputy Attorney General Jonelle Eshbach, and whistle blower Mike McQueary.

A Big Trial story on the email exchange, first disclosed by blogger Ray Blehar, was attached to the defense lawyers' petition filed yesterday as Exhibit B. [The email exchange itself was Exhibit A.]

On Nov. 10, 2011, six days after the state Attorney General's office released its official grand jury report on the Sandusky sex scandal, McQueary emailed Eshbach  to tell her that the grand jury report that said McQueary had witnessed a naked Sandusky in the Penn State showers having anal intercourse with a 10-year-old boy was wrong. In that same email, McQueary complained to the A.G.'s office that they had "twisted" his words about "whatever it was" that he had actually seen or heard in the showers.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pro-Prosecution Inky Denounces Payday Loan Defendants During Trial

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The Philadelphia Inquirer is typically pro-prosecution.

It's something that defendants in a long line of corruption cases can attest to, such as Vince Fumo, Chaka Fattah, the so-called rogue cops, former L&I Inspector Dominic Verdi, the Traffic Court judges, state Senator Larry Farnese, etc.

The Inquirer's usual pattern is to trumpet the allegations of prosecutors as proven facts, which can be a problem when it comes to the presumption of innocence. It's also troublesome if the defendants in these corruption cases are actually found not guilty at trial, as with the rogue cops, Verdi, and Farnese. After all, that's why they play the games, because sometimes the underdogs win.

But on Monday, the Inky did something new in the war on defendants in corruption cases: they actually denounced a couple of defendants on the editorial page while they were on trial for their lives. While  their fates were actually in the hands of a jury.

In the case of payday lending pioneer Charles Hallinan, and his lawyer, Wheeler K. Neff, the Inquirer blasted both of them on the editorial page under a headline that said, "Why payday loan sharks should be arrested and tried."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Penn State Confidential: Prosecutor Told McQueary To Clam Up

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

On Nov. 10, 2011, six days after the state Attorney General's office released its official grand jury report on the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal, deputy Attorney General Jonelle Eshbach was trying to calm Mike McQueary, her distraught star whistle-blower.

McQueary had emailed Eshbach earlier that day to tell her that the grand jury report that told the world that McQueary had witnessed a naked Sandusky in the Penn State showers having anal intercourse with a 10-year-old boy was wrong. In that same email, McQueary complained to the A.G.'s office that they had "twisted" his words about "whatever it was" that he had actually seen or heard in the showers.

Now there's a star witness you can have confidence in.

In a second email sent that same day, McQueary complained to Eshbach about "being misrepresented" in the media. And then McQueary tried to straighten out a couple of misconceptions, writing that he never went to Coach Joe Paterno's house with his father, and that he had never seen Sandusky with a child at a Penn State football practice.

"I know that a lot of this stuff is incorrect and it is hard not to respond," Eshbach emailed McQueary. "But you can't."

That email exchange, divulged in a couple of posts by Penn State blogger Ray Blehar, have people in Penn State Nation talking about prosecutorial misconduct. Naturally, the A.G.'s office has nothing to say about it, as an office spokesperson declined comment today.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Cosby's Accuser Has A Secret

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Andrea Constand, the woman who accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her, has a few secrets she'd like to keep.

So in federal court in Philadelphia, where she's suing former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor for defamation, Constand wants to seal her deposition and keep her medical  and financial records private.

But those secrets may not keep. On Sept. 12, Judge Eduardo C. Robreno issued a ruling for Constand to show cause why the interim seal on her deposition should not be lifted. Cosby's lawyers, who filed as intervenors in the defamation case, have already received a redacted copy of Constand's deposition against Castor.

In a 12-page motion to seal filed Sept. 22 by Constand's lawyers, Bebe H. Kivitz and Dolores M. Troiani, the lawyers argue that Cosby's alleged victim would like to keep "sensitive personal information" under seal, and not have it exposed to Cosby and the media. Castor's lawyers, however, filed a motion last week, saying there is no justifiable reason for the secrecy since all of Costand's allegations against Cosby, as well as Castor, have been nationally and internationally publicized.

Judge Robreno has set a 9 a.m. Oct 20 hearing on the issue of whether Constand's sensitive personal information should remain under seal. In the meantime, with the graphic details of Constand's accusations already out there in People magazine, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, the Daily Mail, The Washington Post, etc., the only thing Costand may have left to hide is how many millions Cosby paid her to go away.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Boy In The Shower Says He Can't Remember 34 Times

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Allan Myers, the boy in the Penn State showers that Mike McQueary allegedly saw being raped by Jerry Sandusky, sure has a lousy memory.

Myers couldn't remember when a picture of him posing with Sandusky had been taken, even though it was at Myers' own wedding.

Myers couldn't remember telling a couple of state troopers who interviewed him in 2011 that Sandusky had never abused him.

Myers couldn't remember what he told a private investigator, that Mike McQueary was a liar, and that nothing sexual ever happened in the shower. And finally, Myers couldn't remember what he told the state attorney general's office after he flipped, and was claiming that Jerry had abused him.

Myers made all these fuzzy statements during a Nov. 4, 2016 hearing where he was called as a witness as part of Sandusky's bid for a new trial. A 48-page transcript of that hearing was released for the first time earlier this week, in response to a request from a curious reporter for a major mainstream media news outlet. Myers' pathetic performance on the witness stand proves what a screwed-up case this is, featuring overreaching prosecutors and a hysterical news media.

The media blew it in part because they showed no skepticism about witnesses like Myers, who, going by the transcript, clearly wasn't credible.

Myers, who was on the witness stand for less than an hour before Centre County Senior Judge John M. Cleland, said he couldn't recall or didn't remember 34 times.

Either he was dealing with early-onset Alzheimer's, or else he was lying about everything.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wine Club Crushes It

PhillyVoice/Tracie Van Auken
By Ralph Cipriano

On Saturday morning, 28 men gathered outside a South Jersey warehouse to crush 25,000 pounds of grapes.

Stacked in the yard on grass and gravel were 680 36-pound boxes of grapes arranged in 17 stacks. The men were using hammers and crowbars to pry the lids off the boxes, so they could dump the grapes into two automatic crusher-destemmers.

As the machines roared, Guy Ferranti strolled through the crowd looking like a football coach on the sidelines carrying his laminated play cards.

Ferranti is the CEO of the Vino Degli Amici wine club, which loosely translated means "wine among friends."

The rest of the story can be read here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

State Attorney General's Office Tries To Keep Sandusky Probe Secret

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

What do you do when you screw up royally?

If you're the state Attorney General's office, you try to keep a top secret lid on everything, even if its years after they put Jerry Sandusky in jail.

That's what our A.G.'s office is up to. On June 28th,  Jennifer C. Selber, executive deputy attorney general, wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney D. Brian Simpson in Harrisburg, about all of the files the A.G. turned over to the feds three years ago from the state's grand jury investigation of Sandusky.

Selber's concern was that the U.S. Attorney's office not turn any of the A.G.'s records in response to a long-running FOI battle being waged by Ryan Bagwell, a former newspaper reporter and candidate for Penn State trustee. When Bagwell couldn't get any records out of the state, he filed FOI requests with the U.S. Attorney's office in 2014, and so far has recouped some 1,000 pages of documents.

The A.G.'s office wants to make sure no further documents are released.

"Initially, it must be understood that the investigation of Sandusky PSU and TSM [The Second Mile] was done through two Statewide Investigating Grand Juries," Selber wrote. "As such, all of the materials gathered by the OAG and provided to your Office were subject to grand jury secrecy."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Inky Readers Hit Paywall

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

At 10:30 a.m. on the Tuesday after the Labor Day weekend, visitors to philly.com ran into a big surprise -- a brand new paywall.

If you were one of those readers who had already read 10 stories on philly.com that month, you were out of luck. No more freebies. Your only option, besides hopping on another computer, or accessing the site from another web browser, was to sign up for "unlimited digital access for 99 cents for four weeks, and $2.99 per week thereafter."

By the next day, Sept. 6th, philly.com, the formerly free website of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, recorded 67,804 "meter stops," meaning 67,804 readers had just ran into that paywall. "Of those who 'hit the meter,' we had 1,736 new digital subscribers sign up," wrote Fred Groser, chief revenue officer, in a Sept. 6th email to all employees of Philadelphia Media Network.

Monday, September 11, 2017

CNN Smears Joe Paterno With Old News From Tainted Source

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

On Saturday, when the Nittany Lions were defeating the Pittsburgh Panthers 33-14 to go 2-0 on a promising young football season, Sara Ganim of CNN posted a blast from Penn State's nightmarish past -- a big scoop that supposedly further tarred and feathered the ghost of the late Joe Paterno.

What startling new evidence did Ganim have to attack what was left of Paterno's credibility? A one-page police report about a 16-year-old incident from a tainted source in an investigation marred by blatant police and prosecutorial misconduct. And what did Ganim and CNN do with that police report? She claimed it "bolsters evidence" that Paterno "knew years before Jerry Sandusky's arrest that his longtime assistant might be abusing children."

You had to dig deep into Ganim's intellectually dishonest story to discover what her main new allegation was -- that Paterno supposedly knew about a 1998 incident where Sandusky was accused of hugging a naked 10-year-old boy in the shower. An incident investigated by the Centre County District Attorney's Office at the time and determined to be unfounded.

An incident that happened three years before the infamous 2001 Mike McQueary shower incident, where McQueary, according to the state attorney general's indictment, supposedly saw Sandusky anally raping another 10-year-old boy in the showers. Even though McQueary later admitted what the attorney general wrote wasn't true. And the alleged victim of the most infamous act of child abuse in the history of America never came forward to testify. Despite tons of publicity and a potential multimillion dollar payout.

With the so-called Penn State sex abuse scandal, it's getting harder and harder to separate reality from myth. All Ganim has done with her latest effort is to throw a fresh coat of mud on the situation and emphasize the need for independent scrutiny of the tainted investigation of Sandusky, as well as Ganim's central role in it.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Franco Harris: Graham Spanier Trial, Jail Sentence A Ridiculous Farce

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Franco Harris thinks that former Penn State University President Graham Spanier got screwed.

Harris, 67, the former Penn State star and NFL Hall of Famer with the Pittsburgh Steelers, went on John Ziegler's "World According To Zig" podcast on Sunday to describe the trial and subsequent jail sentence of Spanier as a ridiculous farce.

 "They had this secret witness who was guarded by 1,000 police take the stand," Harris said, laughing. "It was a farce, it was staged."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Big Ron Previte Dead At 73

By George Anastasia

Big Ron Previte, the mobster turned government witness whose cooperation brought down three crime bosses and changed the face of the Philadelphia mob, died last week after suffering a heart
attack, according to family members and friends.

A former Philadelphia police officer who once said he learned the most about how to be criminal while working as a cop, Previte as a larger-than-life figure who never tried to sugarcoat who he was or what he had done.

Six feet tall and sometimes weighing 300 pounds, Previte [pronounced previ-i-tee] was an imposing and intimidating figure, but he was also a shrewd and astute criminal entrepreneur. He described himself as a "general practitioner of crime" and admitted his involvement with almost every mob gambit . . . with the exception of murder.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Lawyer For Former D.A.'s Bodyguard Claims He Was Retaliated Against For Cooperating With Feds

AP/Matt Rourke
by Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Pierre Gomez had a front-row seat when it came to watching former District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams in action.

In 2010, Detective Gomez went to work on the personal detail for the new D.A. "As a member of the detail, Detective Gomez provided protection for Williams, which included traveling with Williams to events and other personal meetings," Robert J. McNelly, a lawyer for Gomez, wrote in a letter to Interim D.A. Kelley Hodge that threatens a federal lawsuit. "During this tenure, Detective Gomez gleaned much information regarding Williams' activities."

Gomez was on duty at the Union League the day the D.A. had lunch with Joseph Sullivan, then a chief inspector assigned to Homeland Security, and Mohammad Ali, the Jordanian-born businessman who pleaded guilty to bribing Williams.

Gomez was there the day Williams picked up a red 1997 Jaguar XK8 convertible from Michael Weiss, the owner of a Philadelphia gay bar who testified under a grant of immunity about bribing Williams. So the FBI came to Gomez in 2015, when the detective was assigned to the Drug Enforcement Agency, and asked him to cooperate with the federal investigation of his former boss. Gomez was granted immunity and cooperated with the federal investigation for two years. His reward, his lawyer says, was to be retaliated against by his bosses.

Cameron Kline, a spokesman for the D.A.'s office, did not respond to a request for comment. Gomez also declined comment.

Penn State Confidential: What Mike McQueary Heard And Saw, Part 2


PART TWO:  Editor’s Note:  Here is the second and final excerpt on Mike McQueary and Allan Myers from The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment, by Mark Pendergrast.

By Mark Pendergrast
for BigTrial.net

McQueary's Quandry [From Chapter 12]

On Friday, Nov 11, 2011, Sara Ganim, who had publicly identified Mike McQueary as the “graduate assistant” in the grand jury presentment who had supposedly witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a boy in the shower, wrote that McQueary was “getting blasted by the public for doing too little.” 

He had received several death threats. The same day, newly appointed Penn State President Rodney Erickson announced that McQueary was being placed on administrative leave “after it became clear he could not continue coaching.”  Erickson pointedly continued:  "Never again should anyone at Penn State feel scared to do the right thing.”

McQueary was hard to miss around town.  He stood six feet five inches, topped by short bristles of bright orange-red hair, which gave him the nickname Big Red.  Now people were asking one another, “Why didn’t Big Red stop it?”  

On Tuesday, McQueary had called an emotional meeting with his Penn State players.  He looked pale and his hands were shaking.

 “I’m not sure what is going to happen to me,” he said.  He cried as he talked about the Sandusky shower incident.  According to one of the players, “He said he had some regret that he didn’t stop it.”  

Monday, August 21, 2017

Penn State Confidential: What Did Mike McQueary Hear and See?


Editor’s Note:  Once again Mark Pendergrast allows BigTrial.net to print the first of two excerpts about Mike McQueary from Pendergrast's forthcoming book, The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgement (Sunbury Press, November 2017). Hopefully, Judge John Foradora will read this excerpt before he decides whether Sandusky deserves a new trial.  

By Mark Pendergrast
for BigTrial.net

Because there are so many alleged Sandusky victims, many of whom remain anonymous, it's important to look at how the first allegations against Sandusky developed.  Let's look first at the infamous sodomy-in-the-shower scene, since that is usually regarded as the most compelling, horrifying evidence.  I know that's what convinced me that Sandusky was guilty when I first heard about the case.

The Sandusky Grand Jury "Presentment" of Nov. 5, 2011, a summary of secret grand jury testimony, stated that, on March 1, 2002, a Penn State graduate assistant (later identified as Mike McQueary) had gone to the Lasch Football Building at Penn State around 9:30 p.m. As he entered the locker room, he heard "rhythmic, slapping sounds" that sounded sexual to him.  "He looked in the shower.  He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky."

Because grand jury testimony is supposed to be secret, there is no available public transcript to show exactly what Mike McQueary said there, but it is clear from everything else he said about this incident, including his subsequent courtroom testimony, that he did not witness sodomy or any other form of sexual abuse that day in the Lasch locker room.  His version of events morphed over time, but none of the narratives included witnessing overt sexual abuse.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Billy Doe Prosecutor: We Don't Need No Stinkin' Investigation

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Bernard Shero got out of jail yesterday. "He's home and we are so happy!!!" his mother wrote in a text.

Shero's an innocent man falsely accused, but the question remains: Why would the scandal-plagued Philadelphia District Attorney's office let a convicted child rapist out of prison 11 1/2 years early? The D.A.'s office isn't talking, but they only did it after one of their own, retired Detective Joseph Walsh, came forward with damaging accusations of prosecutorial misconduct.

When the D.A. cut the deal with Shero, Walsh was the lead witnesses scheduled to take the stand this fall in another hearing before Judge Ellen Ceisler on Shero's petition for a new trial under the Post-Conviction Relief Act. Now, thanks to that deal the D.A. cut, Walsh won't be making any appearances on behalf of Shero. But the D.A.'s office isn't out of the woods just yet.

Msgr. William J. Lynn, the lead defendant in the so-called "Billy Doe" sex abuse case, is still scheduled to be retried, pending a couple of appeals in state Superior Court over some pretrial rulings. And unless the D.A.'s office cuts a deal with Lynn, retired Detective Walsh will be taking the stand as the monsignor's star witness, to give another dissertation on the prosecutorial misconduct that he witnessed up close and personal.

A recently released court transcript reveals the D.A.'s defense against Walsh's accusations, and it basically amounts to a comedy skit. But the transcript also contains some damaging admissions from the lead prosecutor in the case about the witch hunt mentality behind the Billy Doe "investigation," admissions that will come back to haunt the D.A.'s office.

Memo to interim D.A. Kelley Hodge: it's high time to cut a deal with Msgr. Lynn and spare the scandal-plagued D.A.'s office further embarrassment. Before this entire travesty is exposed on a national stage, at a retrial of Msgr. Lynn.

Detective Joe Walsh Responds To ADA Blessington

Dear Mr. Cipriano:  
I would like to congratulate you for all the work you have done during the past five years.  It is because of your reporting the truth and by you keeping the pressure on the District Attorney's Office that Mr. Shero was given his freedom. 

For several years I have been reading and following your blog.  I know you have spent countless hours during these five years finding out the truth and putting it on your blog. I tell my friends you are like a junk yard dog with a bone, who won't let go.  I wasn't present at the court hearing in June and I had no idea what was being said about me and the investigation.  I just finished reading your latest post and I feel I have to respond truthfully to the remarks made about me by Mr. Blessington.   
In October 2011, I received a phone call from Mr. Ed McCann asking me if I would be willing to come back to work for the District Attorney's Office helping the office with a case against the Archdiocese involving sexual abuse of a child at Saint Jerome's.  Since I had been one of the assigned detectives for the original Grand Jury that ended in September 2005, they felt I would be of significant help to them.  I agreed and began working sometime in the middle of October.  
The first thing, I was sworn into the Grand Jury and I was then able to read the entire case file, including the Grand Jury notes of testimony.  I met with Daniel Gallagher and heard his story  concerning what had occurred to him.   

Monday, August 14, 2017

Let's Make A Deal -- Bernard Shero Getting Out Of Jail Early

The Philly D.A.'s Office In Action
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Like the Pope used to be, prosecutors get to act like they're infallible.

And when they screw up, or get caught playing dirty, they don't have to apologize, or admit to any wrongdoing.

But today in Common Pleas Court, the closest thing to an apology just happened. Judge Ellen Ceisler signed off on a deal struck between the Philadelphia District Attorney's office and Bernard Shero's lawyers to let Shero out of jail nearly a dozen years early.

Shero, 54, is the former schoolteacher doing 8 to 16 years for his 2013 conviction by a jury on charges that included rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor, and indecent assault. But Shero's conviction comes with a big asterisk -- the alleged victim in the case was Danny Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe," the  lying, scheming altar boy who has since been outed as a complete fraud.

Shero, 54, has already done 4 years, 6 months and two weeks in jail for crimes that never happened. He has another 11 1/2 years to go on his maximum sentence as a convicted child rapist. But as soon as tomorrow, he'll be walking out of State Correctional Institution in Houtzdale, thanks to a deal finalized today during a half-hour teleconference between the prison and Judge Ceisler's courtroom at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Twelfth Juror Stars In Chaka Fattah Appeal

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

While former U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah sits in jail, his lawyers are trying to get him a new trial.

Their best shot involves pro-prosecution Judge Harvey Bartle III, and his ham-fisted ejection last summer of Juror 12 from the Fattah case, simply because that juror had the temerity to disagree with the government.

Fattah's appeal was filed earlier this month in the United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, in the matter of USA v. Chaka Fattah, Sr.

Any appeal is a long shot, but if the Court of Appeals signs off on Judge Bartle's decision to remove a dissident juror merely because he was a dissident, what's the point of having a jury trial when it involves a Philadelphia politician accused of corruption? We might as well just pronounce the defendant guilty upon indictment, and send them straight to jail. So we can spare the taxpayers the cost of a lengthy trial, and stop wasting time with any nonsense about constitutional rights.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Feds Highlight Murder Talk In Merlino Tape

"Leave the gun . . . "
By George Anastasia
For BigTrial.net

It was just a couple of guys talking . . . about how to commit a murder.

And the feds got to listen in.

Snippets of a conversation recorded by a cooperating witness show Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and Eugene "Rooster" Onofrio casually discussing how to whack somebody.

"It's easy to kill somebody," said Merlino, according to a tape cited in a recent filing by federal prosecutors in a case against Merlino and Onofrio that is winding its way toward trial in New York.

"It's simple," said the New York wiseguy.

"You're my friend," Merlino said, picking up the conversation as cooperator John "JR" Rubeo listened and the body wire he was wearing for the FBI picked up every word. "You trust me. I tell you, 'Listen, drive me home right now.' Get you in the car. I shoot you in the fuckin' head and it's over."

For more on the story and the potential impact of the tape check out the latest Mob Talk Sitdown at:

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

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mob Talk Sitdown Video Looks At The Case Against Joey Merlino

They're Back
By George Anastasia
For BigTrial.net

He's beaten the feds in court more often than they've beaten him.

Still he's spent close to half his adult life either in jail or on supervised release.

Today, Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, 55, is prepping for another battle. Mob Talk, the one-time weekly feature on Fox 29 in Philadelphia, has a new life as Mob Talk Sitdown. Our first video report takes a look at how the case against Skinny Joey is shaping up.

Click below for the full report:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTCt4C7I3-M

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Dangerously Misleading Narrative Of "The Keepers"

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Science writer Mark Pendergrast should be familiar by now to readers of BigTrial.net.  We have published several excerpts from The Most Hated Man in America, his forthcoming book about Jerry Sandusky.  This article on The Keepers is adapted from Memory Warp, his book about the repressed memory epidemic that will be published later this year. 

By Mark Pendergrast

The Keepers, a wildly popular seven-part documentary series aired by Netflix in May 2017, promotes the theory of repressed memories by resurrecting and validating a previously dismissed Baltimore case from the early 1990s. 

The show relies heavily on recovered memories of abuse to convince viewers that a now-deceased Catholic priest, Joseph Maskell, or another priest known only as “Brother Bob,” murdered a young nun named Cathy Cesnik in 1969, in order to prevent the nun, an English teacher, from reporting sexual abuse of high school students at Keough High School in Baltimore, Maryland.  

The series is dramatic, artfully constructed, and based on real events, but it is extremely misleading, especially in accepting without question the validity of repressed memories.

The Keepers purveys all the old stereotypes, including a psychologist who explains confidently:  "Some things we experience are so unbearable and so painful that we shut them out.”  This popular series could undo years of good memory science in the public arena.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Big Trial On With State College's Morning Guys

He's Moved On From Dealing Cocaine To Pay-To-Play
Scandal-plagued Penn State University has just elected scandal-plagued Mark Dambly as chairman of its board of trustees.

Isn't that great? The July 19th radio interview about Dambly can be heard here. The July 20th radio interview can be heard here.

 “When I was young, I made some mistakes. I deeply regret those actions," Dambly said. "I’ve learned from those mistakes, and I’ve moved on to live a productive life, both personally and professionally."




Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/news/local/education/penn-state/board-of-trustees/article162976
988.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Is Mark Dambly Wearing A Wire?

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

If you're a Penn State trustee, and you're going to talk to Mark Dambly about his impending election tomorrow as chairman of the board, should you pat him down first?

Yes, say two former investigators.

"My first question [for Dambly] would be, 'Hey, you still wearing a wire?' " said John Snedden, a former NCIS and FIS special agent who's a Penn State alum.

"Once a snitch, always a snitch," said another former investigator who worked the infamous "Dr. Snow" cocaine ring of the 1980s and said that Dambly wore a wire to get himself out of trouble with the feds.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Penn State Candidate For Chairman Carries Plenty Of Baggage

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

As a Penn State student, Mark Dambly wound up in jail for five days in 1979 after he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. Then he got mixed up in an infamous multimillion dollar cocaine ring, a retired investigator says, but beat the rap by wearing a wire and cooperating with the government.

These days, Dambly is campaigning to become chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees, an election scheduled for Friday.

But Dambly's most recent legal problems include getting hit with a subpoena last year in the federal probe of Allentown Mayor Ed Pawloski. Pawloski's being investigated for bribery and kickbacks; Dambly's connection is he's the Allentown mayor's top financial contributor.

With all the problems at Penn State, the question is, do they really need a guy with as much baggage as Mark Dambly as board chairman?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Bob Costas And Sara Ganim Star In Jerry Sandusky Appeal

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Fifteen minutes.

That's how much advance notice Jerry Sandusky got from his lawyer, Joseph Amendola, before he engaged in a disastrous nationally televised interview with Bob Costas.

Amendola also did nothing to prep Sandusky for talking with Costas, Sandusky's appeal lawyers say. That 2011 interview was replayed in court by the prosecutors, who proceeded to rip Sandusky for talking to Costas, but not the jury. Sandusky was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

The idiocy of the Costas interview was recounted in a 257-page post-hearing brief filed Thursday in Centre County Common Pleas Court by Sandusky's appeal lawyers, Alexander H. Lindsay Jr. and J. Andrew Salemme, of Butler, PA.

Lindsay and Salemme argue that Sandusky deserves a new trial because Amendola foolishly chose to go on national TV and give up his client's right to remain silent and not convict himself. Amendola went on Costas's TV show in a misguided campaign to cultivate "friends" in the media, Sandusky's appeal lawyers write.  Amendola told a judge he embarked on his campaign because at the time the media was saying that his client was "worse than Adolph Hitler."

Monday, July 10, 2017

Penn State Confidential: U.S. Attorney, FBI Investigated Second Mile Charity And Came Up With A Big "Nothing Burger"

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

For years, Penn State alumni have clamored for a federal investigation of The Second Mile charity founded by convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.

It turns out that the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI have already conducted a federal investigation of The Second Mile. It's an investigation that's apparently been closed since at least 2014, with the result that no charges were ever filed.

In response to FOI requests filed by Ryan Bagwell, a former newspaper reporter and unsuccessful candidate for Penn State trustee, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C. released some 1,000 pages of documents from the closed files of The Second Mile probe.

What's the bottom line?

"It's a big nothing burger," said John Snedden, a former NCIS and FIS special agent who just got through reviewing the documents. "There was an investigation and there was nothing to pursue, and no charges were filed."

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Man-Child In The Men's Room

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

When you cover a trial, you run into everybody in the men's room.

The prosecutors, the defense lawyers. Even the defendant, Rufus Seth Williams.

Talk about an uncomfortable situation. There I was face to face at the sink with the guy I've been ripping for the past five years.

 But to my surprise, he actually wanted to talk.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

D.A. Leaves Court In Handcuffs

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Rufus Seth Williams glanced nervously over his shoulder at the two U.S. Marshals lurking behind his chair at the defense table.

Judge Paul S. Diamond held up a 14-page guilty plea agreement.

"I have a guilty plea from the highest law enforcement officer in the city who betrayed and sold his office," the judge said. "I am appalled by  the evidence I heard yesterday."

The judge talked about how the district attorney of Philadelphia, under penalty of perjury, had handed in six amended financial statements that were "riddled with falsehoods." Then, the judge announced he was revoking bail because he didn't believe the defendant had any credibility left. The marshals put the cuffs on the startled Williams and led him out of the courtroom in disgrace as his ex-wife began crying.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What Was Rufus Thinking?

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

As he sat at the defense table watching the evidence pile up against him, District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams couldn't be blamed for thinking about what might have been.

Today in court, the feds brought in a former campaign official from the D.A.'s political action committee to testify against him, along with an official from the city Board of Ethics.

It was about as exciting as watching an audit in progress. But the feds were effective as they continued to pile up points on the scoreboard. And, over at the defense table, Rufus Seth Williams was left to ponder why he didn't take the deal the feds offered him before trial, which multiple sources described as 20 months to two years in jail, for just a violation of the Travel Act.

Instead, Philadelphia's sitting district attorney is looking at a possible 10 years in the slammer, for multiple counts of bribery, extortion, honest services fraud and wire fraud. As he faces a pro-prosecution judge who, the minute after the jury announces a conviction, will not blink an eye before he orders the marshals to take the defendant out in handcuffs.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Feds Pound Away At Deadbeat D.A.

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

In a text he sent to his car mechanic, District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams revealed the real reason why he was putting his beloved 1997 Jaguar XK8 convertible up for sale.

"I love that car," Williams texted his car mechanic, Armond Salloum. "But my girlfriend wants me to sell it because I had another chick in it."

So Salloum, a high school classmate of the D.A.'s -- Central High Class of 1985 -- put the Jag up for sale. But Williams, who already owed Salloum money for a used battery and spark plugs, defaulted on a promise to bring the title to the car over to Salloum's car lot, plus a picture of the D.A.'s ex-girlfriend's driver's license.

The car, of course, didn't really belong to Williams or his ex-girlfriend, Stacey Cummings. It was borrowed from Michael Weiss, another buddy of Rufus's who owned a Center City gay bar. So the sale never happened.

"The car is still parked at the garage," Salloum testified. Rufus not only left Salloum hanging, but also Weiss. Not to mention whatever he did to piss off his ex-girlfriend.

The subject of Rufus Seth Williams the deadbeat D.A. was the theme of today's testimony during the second week of Williams's political corruption trial. Besides defaulting on a deal to sell the Jaguar, another prosecution witness described how Williams was spending his mother's money while she was in a Catholic rest home, but blaming all that spending on Mom. Cummings is also on the witness list. Maybe she will testify about why she slashed her former boyfriend's tires, and what was the deal with that other chick in the Jaguar.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Deputy Police Commissioner Comes To Court To Bury Rufus

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Sullivan testified in court today about an awkward lunch he had back in 2013 at the Union League with District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams and his little Muslim buddy, Mohammad Ali.

"It didn't feel right," Sullivan said about the district attorney's attempts to extract favorable treatment from the police department to benefit Ali whenever he was coming through the Philadelphia International Airport.

"It made me uncomfortable," Sullivan testified about lunch with Rufus and Mohammad. So uncomfortable that Sullivan went straight to the FBI.

A high-ranking FBI official told Sullivan he would look into the case of Ali, the Jordanian native who was jet-setting all over the globe, had some $200 million stashed in his bank account, and was suspected of money laundering. The next day, the FBI official called Sullivan and told him, "Stay away from Mr. Ali," Sullivan recalled. "And he [the FBI official] advised the D.A. to do the same," Sullivan testified.

But Rufus Seth Williams was either too dumb or too greedy to take the hint.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Man Who Allegedly Bribed Rufus Doesn't Have Much To Show For It

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

When Thomas Burke stood up this morning to cross-examine Mohammad Ali, he wanted to make sure that the jury not only understood what the prosecution's star cooperating witness was charged with, but also what Ali wasn't charged with.

Ali, a Bucks County businessman, pleaded guilty to tax evasion, to the tune of $163,000. He also pleaded guilty to bribing Rufus Seth Williams with about $20,000 in unreported gifts that included free vacations to Punta Cana, and a $3,000 chocolate-covered sofa from Raymour And Flanagan.

But the feds had been investigating Ali for years for money laundering, as they tracked more than $200 million going in and out of his accounts while the jet setting Jordanian native flew around the world to China, South America and Iran. That's why Ali was subjected to secondary security screenings every time he walked through an airport.

"Did you have to plead [guilty] to money laundering?" Burke, Seth Williams' lawyer, asked Ali.

"No," Ali said.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

In The Federal Case Against Rufus, Where's The Beef?

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The feds trotted out one of their star cooperating witnesses today against Rufus Seth Williams.

Mohammad Ali is the Bucks County business man who was allegedly bribing the Philadelphia District Attorney with gifts that included a $205 Louis Vuitton tie, a $3,000  chocolate-colored sofa from Raymour and Flanagan, $4,000 vacations to Punta Cana, and a $7,000 "loan" that was never repaid.

But after the meek and deferential Ali got through telling his story, he sounded more like the victim of a shakedown. Anybody doing the math would have to wonder what Ali got in return for the money and gifts that he was showering Rufus with. To many courtroom observers, Ali came off like a chump who got played.

It all added up to a puzzling day in court. Rufus Seth Williams, the district attorney of Philadelphia, is not on trial for being a sleaze ball or shakedown artist. If he was, he'd be convicted already. But in a case that hinges on quid pro quos, the feds appear to still be searching for one.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Leadoff Witness: Mama's Boy Rufus Was Ripping Off Mama

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

He was supposed to be the designated "responsible person" charged with taking care of the finances for his elderly mother's nursing home care.

But to hear nursing home administrator Kathleen Defriece tell it, Rufus Seth Williams, the district attorney of Philadelphia, was anything but responsible.

Instead, Defriece said, Williams was irresponsibly spending Mom's money. Income that was supposed to go toward paying the costs of Mom's nursing home care. But Williams wouldn't admit that it was him who was spending the money; instead, he blamed it on Mom, Defriece said. And whenever Defriece called Williams to confront him, he blew her off.

Defriece was the prosecution's leadoff witness today at the opening day of the history-making political corruption trial of Rufus Seth Williams, Philadelphia's sitting district attorney, who's refused to step down from office.

Of all the charges against Williams in the 29-count federal indictment, the lowest blows involve Williams allegedly stealing $23,000 originally intended for his own mother's nursing home care. And so when the bell rang today, that's the soft spot the prosecutors began pounding away at, those nasty allegations about ripping off Mom.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Big Trial Featured On Lions Of Liberty "Felony Friday" Podcast









The "Lions of Liberty" are a bunch of freedom-loving libertarians who sponsor a "Felony Friday" podcast.

On today's podcast, Ralph Cipriano of Big Trial joins host John Odermatt to discuss the parallels between the sex scandals that rocked the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Penn State.

The podcast can be heard here.

Manufactured Evidence: Victim No. 1 In The Sandusky Case


EDITOR’S NOTE: Mark Pendergrast has once again allowed BigTrial.net to publish an excerpt from his forthcoming book, THE MOST HATED MAN IN AMERICA.  Here he writes about Aaron Fisher, “Victim 1,” whose allegations started the case against Jerry Sandusky.  As Pendergrast reveals, it took three years before Fisher’s psychotherapist, Mike Gillum, prepared him  sufficiently to testify to abuse claims. After a brief introduction, we pick up the story in November 2008, after Fisher’s mother, Dawn Daniels, concluded that Sandusky might have molested her 14-year-old son, and that such claims could be her ticket out of public housing and into a home in the country . . . 

By Mark Pendergrast
for BigTrial.net

Jerry Sandusky would probably be a free man today if 15-year-old Aaron Fisher had not begun to have frequent counseling sessions with Pennsylvania psychotherapist Mike Gillum.

Fisher was the son of Dawn (Fisher) Daniels, who was impregnated early in 1993 when she was 17 by her boyfriend Michael. Aaron was born on Nov. 9, 1993, and his biological father saw him only a couple of times, then disappeared completely by the time he was one year old.  His mother consequently gave him her maiden name, Fisher, as his last name.

Dawn then met Cliff when she was 18 and lived with him, unmarried, until Aaron was nearly five.  Then she married Eric Daniels, a relationship that lasted five years. "He began to abuse me when Katie was a baby,” she later asserted. “Eric turned out to be very controlling and he was emotionally and physically abusive." Katie, Aaron’s younger sister, was later diagnosed as bipolar.

Clearly, young Aaron Fisher had an unstable childhood.  His mother apparently enjoyed frequenting bars, getting drunk, and flirting with strangers.  In 2008, when Fisher was 14, the same year that the abuse claims arose, his mother posted photos of herself in a saloon, bragging of her extreme intoxication, on her My Space page.  


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Syndicated Columnist Rips "Rape Faker" Billy Doe And Rolling Stone For Promoting "Rape Culture Propaganda At Any Cost"

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Rolling Stone obviously aren't going to do anything to correct the fake news story they've promulgated about "Billy Doe."

He's the lying, scheming altar boy who falsely claimed he was raped as a child by two priests and a schoolteacher, and has since been outed as a fraud.

But today, syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin ripped Billy Doe as a "rape faker," and Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of a fraudulent 2011 Rolling Stone story about Billy as a "lying liar with a laptop." Malkin also took Rubin's "progressive editors" at Rolling Stone to task for promoting "'rape culture' propaganda at any cost."

The entire column tying the U.Va. scandal together with the Billy Doe scandal is worth a read here. Malkin calls for higher penalties against "rape fakers," but so far Billy Doe AKA Danny Gallagher has only been rewarded for his lies with a $5 million payout from the Catholic Church. While Bernie Shero, the schoolteacher who was one of the victims of Gallagher's false accusations, remains in jail doing 8 to 16 years for a crime that never happened.

While we're slamming Rolling Stone, let's not give The Philadelphia Inquirer a pass. They've published 59 false Billy Doe got raped stories and editorials in the past seven years. But now that Billy's been outed as a fraud, the Inquirer betrays the fundamental mission of journalism by remaining purposely silent.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Case Against Merlino Losing Steam

By George Anastasia
For BigTrial.net

He's battled the feds in court and rival mobsters on the streets.

Right now he appears to be ahead of the game. And if things continue to unravel in a massive but flawed federal racketeering case in New York, it looks like Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino will add another one to the win column.

Read more here:


EDITOR'S NOTE:
Because of the incessantly inane and repetitively boring comments by a handful of readers,  the comments section on mob stories that appear on BigTrial has been shut down.  

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Danny Pro Scores With The Godfather's Olive Oil

Reprinted with permission from Gang Land News.

By George Anastasia
For BigTrial.net

The Tribeca Film Festival ended in April with a screening of Godfather I and Godfather II. The tribute was a way to mark the 45th anniversary of the release of Godfather I.

Even before the film festival began, however, New Jersey mob figure Danny Provenzano was raising a toast to the movies. Provenzano, whose great uncle was the legendary Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano, has turned his fascination with those films and some astute foresight into a significant payday.

A movie buff who has acted, directed and written scripts, Provenzano, 53, has always been a fan of the Mario Puzo-Francis Ford Coppolla classics. Shortly before he went to prison on a New Jersey racketeering charge in 2003, Provenzano inquired about the availability of various business trademarks linked to the Godfather phenomenon. He was particularly interested in Genco Olive Oil. Genco, you may recall, was the company Don Corleone set up in New York to legitimize his business operations.

Paramount had the trademark. But after Provenzano was released from prison in 2007, he learned that the trademark license had expired and was available. He bought it.

“I think I paid $1,600,” Provenzano said with a laugh.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

District Attorney: Lead Detective Joe Walsh Was A Rogue Cop


By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The Philadelphia District Attorney's office, attempting to explain away damaging allegations of prosecutorial misconduct made by one of their own, today advanced the novel theory in court that Detective Joe Walsh was a rogue cop.

It happened at a status hearing this morning in front of Judge Ellen Ceisler. The 90-minute hearing was called by the judge to determine whether former schoolteacher Bernard Shero should be granted a new trial. Let's cut to the chase: he should. Because four years ago, Shero was unjustly convicted and sent to jail for the imaginary rape of lying altar boy "Billy Doe," AKA Danny Gallagher, the D.A.'s former star witness who has since been revealed to be a fraud.

If there was any "justice" in the criminal justice system, they'd let Shero out of jail yesterday. But the wheels of the justice system turn slowly. And they were spinning in reverse today when Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington asserted that the D.A.'s office would challenge Detective Walsh at a future June 23 hearing, when Walsh is expected to testify on behalf of Shero's bid for a new trial, because Walsh's "credibility is suspect," Blessington said.

The assistant district attorney asserted that back in 2011 and 2012, when Walsh was out interviewing nuns, priests and teachers at St. Jerome's Church, the Northeast Philly parish where Gallagher falsely claimed he was raped three times, "He [Walsh] did that on his own," Blessington said.

Courtroom spectators burst out laughing, but the judge was incredulous.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An Innocent Man Doing 8 to 16 Years In Jail For An Imaginary Rape

Judge Ceisler Sent Two Innocent Men To Jail
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Tomorrow, at a 9 a.m. hearing in Courtroom 453 in City Hall, the Honorable Judge Ellen Ceisler has a chance to right a wrong.

Four years ago, Judge Ceisler presided over a trial that was a travesty of justice. It ended with the judge sending two innocent men off to jail -- the Rev. Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero.

Ceisler can't make amends to Father Engelhardt; he died in prison in 2014. In his last moments, the 67-year-old priest made a dying declaration to a fellow prisoner. "I am an innocent man, who was wrongly convicted," he said. It turned out to be true.

So Ceisler can't do anything for Father Engelhardt, but she can do something for Bernard Shero.

He's the former Catholic schoolteacher doing 8 to 16 years at the State Correctional Institution in Houtzdale, PA, for supposedly raping Daniel Gallagher, the lying altar boy known as Billy Doe. What the judge can do is grant Shero a new trial, and get him out of jail, after Shero served four years for an imaginary rape.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Ralph Natale Tells A Good Story

By George Anastasia

Ralph Natale has a way with words.

The 82-year-old former mob boss has never been shy about touting his role in the Philadelphia underworld.

But some of the stories he tells in his biography, Last Don Standing, appear to be at odds with his sworn testimony in a 2001 federal racketeering trial.

The problem is, the story Ralph tells changes depending on where he is and whom he's speaking to.

Such as the story of how Ralph got initiated into the Mafia. Was the secret ceremony performed by Angelo Bruno and Carlo Gambino?

Or was it Joey Merlino?

Read the full story here.

Spanier Fighting Heart Disease, Cancer, Depression On Way To Jail

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The three top former Penn State officials that Judge John Boccabella just sent to jail so he could be tough on crime in a high-profile media case are in bad shape.

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier is 69 years old, and has had five operations in the past year, in addition to 35 radiation treatments for advanced prostate cancer. According to a sentencing memorandum prepared by Spanier's lawyers, Spanier is being evaluated for imminent open-heart cardiac valve replacement surgery. He's also being treated for high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.

Former Penn State VP Gary Schultz, 67, is the primary caretaker for his wife, Karen, his high school sweetheart, who has MS. Schultz also cares for his 86-year-old mother-in-law, who moved into Schultz's house in November, 2015. Both Schultz's wife and mother-in-law depend on Schultz's assistance to get through their daily lives, Schultz's lawyers stated in a sentencing memorandum ignored by the judge.

Former Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley, 63, suffers from "incurable lung cancer," his lawyer wrote. "Any term of incarceration would negatively impact his health, his ongoing treatment and continuity of health care and cause extreme hardship to himself and his family." In addition, Curley's cancer treatment "has caused liver damage making him susceptible to infection and illness," his lawyer wrote.

But in the interests of "justice," the show must go on. The Penn State trio must do jail time for misdemeanors, after seeing their careers torched, and their reputations destroyed.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Penn State Sentences: Shakespearian Tragedy Or Comedy Of Errors?

The Man Who Made Penn State's Showers Safe Again
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Judge John Boccabella said he was witnessing a Shakespearian tragedy on Friday when he sentenced Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz to jail for misdemeanors.

But actually it was a farce. "The Comedy of Errors" -- [Shakespeare wrote that one too] -- that Boccabella had a starring role in.

For starters, the prosecutors in the case wrote an insane sentencing memorandum where they proposed abandoning the law, as well as logic and common decency, in favor of mob rule.

What the prosecutors wanted to do was to hold former Penn State President Graham Spanier and one of their own cooperating witnesses -- former athletic director Tim Curley -- personally responsible for the actions of bloggers, and the politically incorrect statements of some of Spanier's defenders.

As crazy as that notion was, Judge Boccabella promptly ratified it by sending all three former Penn State administrators off to jail on for a misdemeanor crime that they weren't guilty of, child endangerment, a state law that didn't even apply to them.

All because of the blasphemies of others.

 

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