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.

But the question remains: Why did the scandal-plagued Philadelphia District Attorney's office decide to let a convicted child rapist out of prison 11 1/2 years early? The D.A.'s office isn't talking, but the facts are 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 their deal with Shero, Walsh was one of the 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 in the Lynn case. And unless the D.A.'s office cuts another 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 in the D.A.'s office 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 that was openly met with disbelief by an incredulous judge. But the transcript also contains some damaging admissions from the lead prosecutor about the so-called Billy Doe "investigation." It's a primer on the the legal perils of trying to defend a case after one of your own team members has come forward to blow the whistle.

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

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.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Requiem For Two Brothers

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Today, on the streets of Macon, Georgia, people will stand in line along the route to the Rose Hill Cemetery to honor Gregg Allman, the pioneer Southern rocker who died at 69 on Memorial Day weekend.

At the cemetery, Gregg will be buried next to his older brother, Duane, the legendary slide guitarist who died at the tender age of 24 in 1971 in a motorcycle accident on these same Macon streets.

The Allman Brothers Band gave their last concert in 2014 at the Beacon Theatre in New York, ending a 45 year-run. Sadly, there can be no more reunions now that the last biological Allman brother is dead. So today's graveyard procession will also be a way to say goodbye to one of America's most original and influential rock bands.

It's a 1970s retro celebration. Former president Jimmy Carter will be there, along with Cher, one of Gregg's six wives. And Dickey Betts, a founding band member who left in 2000 after a messy public divorce, but reportedly patched things up with Gregg -- call me Gregory -- before he died of liver cancer.

Gregg's longtime manager has asked the mourners to dress casually, as in jeans. No suits.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Prosecutors In Graham Spanier Case Howling For Blood

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The prosecutors in the Graham Spanier case have lost it.

In a 14-page sentencing memorandum filed May 31, prosecutors in the state Attorney General's office want to punish one of their own cooperating witnesses for memory lapses on the stand. The prosecutors also want to throw former Penn State President Graham Spanier in jail for a lack of remorse.

Why are the prosecutors howling for blood? In their sentencing memorandum, the state attorney general's office blames the actions of bloggers and and the politically incorrect comments of the defenders of the Penn State administrators accused of covering up the sex crimes of Jerry Sandusky.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Beth Grossman, GOP Candidate For D.A., Calls Larry Krasner's George Soros-Financed Campaign A "Grand Social Experiment"

Larry at his victory party ["F--k the FOP!"]
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Only in Philadelphia where our incumbent District Attorney is currently under federal indictment for political corruption could the citizens be poised to make a worse choice as their next D.A.

That would be Larry Krasner, the George Soros-financed radical "progressive" who just won the Democratic primary for D.A. Now he's running for election this November in a town where Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1.

Krasner is a longtime civil rights lawyer who has sued the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times, on behalf of drug dealers and protesters from groups such as Black Lives Matter, ACT UP and Occupy Philly.

Larry's the guy who talked our current corrupt D.A. into tossing more than 800 convictions of drug dealers, nearly all of whom had pleaded guilty after getting caught with drugs. For his next trick, Progressive Larry sued the city to gain cash rewards from the taxpayers that will ultimately benefit 300 newly emancipated drug dealers. The drug dealers are currently in magistrate court, eagerly awaiting those cash payouts arranged by their good friend Larry.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Merlino Turns Down Plea Offer In Big Mob Case

Reprinted with permission from  Gang Land News.

By George Anastasia


Brad Sirkin has folded his cards.


The prolific, enterprising mob associate and sometime driver for Philadelphia Mafia boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino has agreed to cop a guilty plea in that sweeping but flawed racketeering conspiracy indictment in Manhattan Federal Court, and also to conspiracy to commit health care fraud in a more pointed and apparently airtight case against him and seven co-defendants in federal court in Tampa.

Merlino, on the other hand, is hanging tough and is prepared to go to trial in Manhattan where several other defendants also have opted to take deals. The insurance scam, the central charge in the Tampa case, is just a small piece of the broader New York indictment.

Sirkin, in a plea agreement filed in Florida, admitted his role in what authorities have alleged was a $157 million insurance fraud scheme that included kickbacks to doctors and pharmacist who knowingly wrote and filled bogus prescriptions for what authorities said were "compound medications, chiefly pain creams and scar creams, irrespective of medical necessity."

Not-So-Bright Justice: Tom Bergstrom, Msgr. Lynn's Lawyer, Gets A Scolding; Prosecutors In The Corrupt D.A.'s Office Get A Pass

By Ralph Cipriano
Tom Bergstrom: Got In Trouble For Defending His Client
for BigTrial.net

On Friday, Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright held a hearing on legal misconduct in the case of Msgr. William J. Lynn.

If you haven't heard, it was a curious affair. So far in the seven-year history of the legal travesty known as the Lynn case, the only misconduct that we know of has been the rampant and intentional misconduct of the prosecutors.

But Judge Bright was holding Friday's hearing to decide whether she would find Thomas A. Bergstrom, Lynn's lawyer, guilty of contempt for violating the judge's gag order in the Lynn case. Because Bergstrom got upset when The Philadelphia Inquirer libeled his client.

Only in Philadelphia does this nonsense make sense. Where we have a D.A. still in office despite a 29-count federal indictment for political corruption. And prosecutors in that office who put innocent men in jail for imaginary crimes, as in the case of Msgr. Lynn, and don't get into any trouble for it. Even though we have it from inside the D.A.'s office that they knew their star witness wasn't credible.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sandusky's Lawyer Was Painfully Inept

Editor’s note:  Here is another excerpt from Mark Pendergrast’s forthcoming book, The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment. Again, Mark refers people to this petition at Change.org seeking a new trial for Sandusky.  Please sign the petition and leave a detailed comment, especially if you know Sandusky personally or have other reasons to doubt that he received a fair trial. To be "newsworthy" it is important that signers include high-profile people, such as former Penn State football players or coaches, who will explain who they are and why they are signing.
 
by Mark Pendergrast
For BigTrial.net
 
On Monday, June 11, 2012, Joe McGettigan opened the trial of Jerry Sandusky with an impassioned speech to the newly picked jurors about the “serial predatory pedophile” whom they should convict. 
 
McGettigan, then 64, a native of Philadelphia, had carved out a reputation as an aggressive, successful prosecutor.  “He is smart, tenacious, and well-prepared,” wrote one journalist, who also called him a pugnacious street brawler.  “He will steamroll over anyone who gets in his way,” another lawyer observed, adding that McGettigan was a “true believer” who thought “all criminals deserve life sentences.”
 
 He was known as “Hollywood Joe McGettigan” because of his penchant for dark glasses, garish ties, and his serving as a legal consultant and writer for a one-season television series.  In the press, he had already called the Second Mile “a victim factory.”[i]

Now McGettigan told the jurors that the young men who would testify had endured “years of victimization,” and that, although the molestation had occurred years ago, “the past is never dead.  It’s not even past.”

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Inky, Rolling Stone Ignore Detective Walsh Bombshell

The Sounds of Silence
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

If you want a perfect illustration of what's wrong with the media, let's talk about The Philadelphia Inquirer and Rolling Stone, and their stubborn refusal to deal with how they blew to hell the "Billy Doe" fake rape story.

Last Tuesday on this blog, we printed a news story about a 12-page affidavit filed in Common Pleas Court by retired Detective Joe Walsh. In that affidavit, Walsh, the D.A.'s lead detective on the Philly archdiocese sex abuse scandal, detailed one lie after another that he caught Billy Doe/Danny Gallagher telling. Gallagher even admitted he lied and "just made stuff up," the detective says. Walsh repeatedly concluded that Gallagher wasn't telling the truth when he claimed he was raped as a 10 and 11 year-old altar boy in separate attacks by two priests and a schoolteacher.

Lurching Toward Trial In The Sandusky Case

Editor's Note: Here is another excerpt from Mark Pendergrast’s forthcoming book, The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment. (Sunbury Press, paperback, $19.95, release date, Nov. 6, 2017; ISBN: 978-1-62006-765-9). The author is allowing it to be posted now to explain why people should sign the new Change.org petition to grant Sandusky a new trial. Please sign this petition ASAP, the author writes, and it's also important that you add a comment.

"This section, ‘Lurching Towards Trial,’ just gives you the flavor of how incredibly rushed the trial was, and how unprepared the defense lawyers were," Pendergrast wrote Big Trial. "The jury selection process was appalling, with several jurors indicating that they had already concluded that Sandusky was guilty. They were selected as jurors anyway. Defense attorney Joe Amendola gave the worst opening statement I’ve ever encountered, saying that the Commonwealth had ‘overwhelming evidence’ against Sandusky, when in fact there was no physical evidence at all, the victims’ stories were problematical in many ways, and the defense attorneys were utterly ineffective.  It’s a complex story, but the bottom line is that, at the least, it is abundantly clear that Sandusky deserves a new trial.”
 
 By Mark Pendergrast
for BigTrial.net
 
Joe Amendola and Karl Rominger, the attorneys for Jerry Sandusky, faced a virtually insurmountable task in preparing for the trial, which Judge John Cleland was clearly intent on holding as soon as possible.  Cleland was perhaps sensitive to media criticism questioning why it had taken three years from the time Aaron Fisher, “Victim 1,” first made allegations, to the time of Sandusky’s arrest.[1]  

The reason: it took those three years for the prosecutors to grow memories, find other alleged victims, and convince the Grand Jury and Office of the Attorney General that there was sufficient evidence to recommend an indictment, but in the hysteria over the case, no one acknowledged that reality.

Friday, May 12, 2017

What WHYY's "The List" Got Right And What It Got Wrong

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Tonight, at 10:30 p.m., WHYY is airing "The List," a 59-minute documentary on the sex abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

I'm one of the people who was interviewed for the film. For the first 50 minutes or so, the documentary is mostly successful when it deals with former D.A. Lynne Abraham's crusade to pry loose the archdiocese's secret archive files. That's the 45,000-page history of the clergy's sex crimes against hundreds of innocent children dating back to the 1940s.

But during the last 10 minutes, the film fails when it attempts to reconcile Abraham's righteous crusade with the witch hunt staged by our current D.A., Rufus Seth Williams.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Repressed Memories Of Victim No. 7 In The Sandusky Case

Editor's Note: On May 11, 2017, Dustin Struble is scheduled to testify in a hearing before Judge John Foradora in a Bellefonte, PA, courthouse.  He is known as “Victim 7” in the Jerry Sandusky case.  

Investigator and science writer Mark Pendergrast is near completion of a book on the Sandusky case, The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment, which will be published late in 2017.  Because he thinks that some of the information he has unearthed is important to reveal now, he has allowed BigTrial.net to publish excerpts from it. 

By Mark Pendergrast
for BigTrial.net

Dustin Struble (eventually to be labeled “Victim Number 7”), born on October 10, 1984, was two years older than Zachary Konstas [the boy in the 1998 Sandusky shower incident].  The two had been friends since their Second Mile days.  The police contacted Struble in January of 2011, and after his second interview with police, he told them that he was entering psychotherapy on February 22, 2011.  Konstas would subsequently ask about Struble’s counseling experience during phone calls.  He wanted to know if he had “remembered anything more”, indicating that Struble was in the process of recovering memories during therapy.[1]  From the context, it is likely that Konstas was also trying to “remember” more during therapy sessions of his own.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Detective Joe Walsh In Bombshell Affidavit: "Billy Doe" Admitted That He Lied And "Just Made Stuff Up!" But The D.A.'s Office Covered It Up!

Alleged "Victim" A Complete Fraud
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Detective Joe Walsh wasn't buying the BS that Danny Gallagher was peddling.

Back in March 2012, Walsh was prepping Danny Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe," for his role as the D.A.'s star witness in the child endangerment case against Msgr. William J. Lynn, scheduled to go to trial in just a few weeks. Walsh was quizzing the former altar boy  about his claim that he was high on drugs when he told two social workers "graphic details" about violent rapes and beatings he  supposedly suffered at the hands of two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher.

But Walsh had interviewed Gallagher's father, a Philadelphia police sergeant, who said his son wasn't high on drugs the morning he talked to the two social workers. Because just a few minutes earlier, the father had driven his sober son home from the drug clinic. Danny Gallagher had also told many of those same graphic details the day before to his drug counselor, who told Walsh that Gallagher wasn't high when he made those same accusations.

"I asked" Gallagher about "all those graphic details," Walsh wrote in a blockbuster, 12-page affidavit filed Monday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. Those graphic details included allegations of brutal anal rapes, death threats, getting tied up naked with altar sashes, strangled with a seatbelt and being knocked unconscious by his assailants.

In his affidavit, Walsh said he asked the D.A.'s star witness: "Did he just make all that up?"  According to the detective, that's when Gallagher admitted, "He just made up stuff and told them anything."

Case Closed: Detective Joe Walsh's Bombshell 12-Page Affidavit



Friday, May 5, 2017

The Godfather Movies And Mafia Myths


By George Anastasia

The Tribeca Film Festival ended last month with a screening of The Godfather and its sequel The Godfather Part II. The tribute marked the 45th anniversary of the release of one of the best movies ever made.

The Don Corleone saga has been hailed as one of the greatest pieces of cinematic story telling in American history. But the impact of the movies went far beyond the silver screen. It helped solidify an image or perception of "men of honor" and a code of conduct -- omerta -- that gave nobility to a group of outlaws. If those men and that code ever existed, they disappeared two generations ago.

For more about Mafia myths read here in The Washington Post.



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Penn State Confidential: Mike McQueary Caught With His Pants Down

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

When the state Attorney General's investigators first came to see Mike McQueary in 2010, McQueary claimed he instantly knew that they were there to talk to him about Jerry Sandusky.

Even though nine years had gone by since McQueary had allegedly witnessed a naked Sandusky cavorting in the showers with an underage boy.

But a few reporters familiar with the case have long believed that McQueary was lying. And that when the investigators from the state Attorney General's office showed up, McQueary had an entirely different reaction -- he actually was in a panic because he thought he was in big trouble for a couple of bad habits.

Why? McQueary, a former Penn State quarterback and assistant coach, supposedly was betting on Penn State football games. McQueary also supposedly had used a Penn State phone to text photos of his privates to women who weren't his wife.

Today, one of those reporters who believes McQueary was lying just blew up McQueary, a female source, and quite possibly himself. John Ziegler did it by posting text messages and graphic photos on his website to show that seven years after that visit from the AG, McQueary allegedly is still texting photos of his privates. And this time, to keep the scandal all in the PSU soap opera family, the gal McQueary allegedly was texting was the former fiancé of Joe Amendola, Sandusky's former defense lawyer.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Federal Judge Orders D.A.'s Office To Cooperate In Email Search

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond has given the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office until noon Monday to cooperate with a federal subpoena of two email accounts belonging to D.A. Rufus Seth Williams.

Back on Jan. 5th, the federal government filed a search warrant to recover the contents of two email accounts used by D.A. Williams: phlda@yahoo.com and seth.williams@phila.gov.

When they filed the subpoena, the feds stated that they realized the D.A.'s two email accounts might contain "privileged or confidential materials" involving current grand jury investigations being conducted by the D.A.'s office. To remedy that, the feds proposed assigning a separate prosecutor to go through the two email accounts. Using search terms provided by the D.A.'s office, the separate prosecutor was supposed to filter out any confidential information before turning the contents of the email accounts over to the team of assistant U.S. Attorneys assigned to prosecute Seth Williams.

The city of Philadelphia signed off on the request; so did defense lawyers for Seth Williams. But a lawyer for Kathleen Martin, the First Assistant District Attorney who is running the office in Williams' absence, objected, saying that the proposed filter operation might violate state law regarding grand jury secrecy, and also might require the approval of state judges.

But on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Diamond rejected Martin's argument as a "baseless position." And he ordered the D.A.'s office to provide the feds with "search terms to identify grand jury materials no later than Monday, May 1, 2017, at 12:000 noon," according to the judge's order posted Friday on the docket in the case of the United States of America v. Rufus Seth Williams.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Judge In Seth Williams Case Has Conflict Of Interest

Recuse me
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Richard A. Sprague and Lynne Abraham have gone to court seeking to have District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams removed from office.

The judge in the case is Abbe F. Fletman, but she has a conflict of interest.

In 2009, Fletman was a defense lawyer who represented Seth Williams in Philadelphia County Election Court. Eight years ago, Dan McCaffery, a candidate in the Democratic primary for D.A., went to Election Court seeking to get Seth Williams thrown off the ballot because he had not made a full disclosure of income in his financial disclosure forms.

Now, eight years later, Fletman's unsuccessful defense of Williams becomes a conflict of interest since she became a judge. And nobody will be surprised if lawyers for Sprague and Abraham ask the judge to recuse herself.

 

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