Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Progressive New D.A. Larry Krasner Off On Wrong Foot

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Attention Philadelphia: your newly-elected District Attorney, Progressive Larry Krasner, is already getting started on his new job, but it may not be a good thing.

According to a Nov. 29th mass email sent out to hundreds of employees in the D.A.'s office, Krasner sought and was granted permission by interim D.A. Kelley Hodge to have his transition team review the personnel files of those hundreds of employees, presumably to help decide who's going and who's staying in a  Krasner administration. The review,  according to the mass email, was supposed to be conducted last week, but one union official, FOP President John McNesby, said he did not believe that any of the reviews had actually been done yet.

That may be because of an ongoing ethical problem. Krasner, a longtime civil rights lawyer who's sued the city's police department 75 times, and provided pro-bono representation for the likes of ACT UP, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy Philly, isn't officially the D.A. yet, and he won't be until he's sworn in on Jan. 2nd.

Krasner, who could not be reached for comment, apparently has tasked a lawyer from the firm that he is now of counsel to, Patricia Pierce of Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt & Flores, to help review those personnel files at the D.A.'s office. Krasner also has been seen visiting the D.A.'s office at Penn Square a few times, along with members of his transition team, who supposedly have been given office space by the interim D.A. The reaction among some employees at the D.A.'s office has been paranoia.

"People were freaking out," said one source familiar with the process. "I think everybody's worried about being fired."

Monday, December 11, 2017

What John Gotti Did To The Mob


Even in death, John Gotti suffers indignities. A Gotti biopic starring John Travolta was scheduled to hit theaters Dec. 15th, only to be not only suddenly yanked from release but reportedly dumped by Lionsgate completely . . .

"It's a dark comedy" -- George Anastasia


Story from realclearlife.com can be read HERE.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

On Tour With The Original Gangster

Courtroom sketch by Susan Schary
From Target: The Senator, Chapter One

By Ralph Cipriano

In the back of a prison bus, a U.S. marshal was sitting in a steel cage, armed with a shotgun. He was watching over forty men dressed in blue paper jumpsuits and shackled in handcuffs, belly chains, and leg irons.

Most of the inmates were tattooed young drug dealers with buzz cuts and shaved heads. The oldest guy on the bus, however, looked like somebody’s hippie uncle with his scruffy mop of silver hair and the full white beard he had sprouted in prison. Fellow prisoners called him “Pops,” “Daddy-O,” and “OG,” as in the “Original Gangster.”

As the bus rumbled over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia, many young drug dealers were catnapping in their seats. The OG, however, was peering through security bars and tinted windows at a skyline that reflected the glory of a past life.

They used to call him “The Senator.” In the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania, mayors and governors came and went. But from his stronghold in the Pennsylvania Senate, where he held the purse strings to the state budget, Vincent J. Fumo reigned for nearly a generation as a power broker.

Monday, December 4, 2017

I Did Not Deserve "The Scarlet Letter"

Updated to include "Fast Eddie" Rendell

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The "Vince of Darkness" is back with a vengeance.

Philly Voice ran a long interview this morning with former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo.

Fumo, who spent four years in jail after he was convicted on 137 felony counts, came out swinging, saying he was the target of "an avalanche of negative publicity," and "prosecutorial over-agression," and that he did not deserve to be branded with "The Scarlet Letter."

In Fumo's case, instead of an "A" like Hester Prynne, he got an "F" emblazoned on his forehead as a convicted felon.

Philly Voice also ran an excerpt from my new book, Target: The Senator; A Story About Power and Abuse of Power.

That's on top of an 8,000 word Philly mag profile of Fumo that also discusses the book, which is out on Kindle, and is now available in a paperback, and hardback.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Newsweek's Cover Story On Philly Archdiocese: "Sins Of The Fathers"

By Ralph Cipriano

It took a near death experience to convince retired Philadelphia police detective Joe Walsh that he couldn't keep quiet anymore about what he knew.

On June 11, 2015, just another sunny day down at the Jersey Shore, Walsh suddenly felt severe pain in his jaw. An old Army who noticed the color had drained from Walsh's face told him to "Sit down" while he called 911.

In the ambulance, a paramedic asked Walsh if he liked the T-shirt he was wearing. "Not particularly," Walsh told him. "That's good," the paramedic said, before he cut it ff with scissors. "He hooked me up [to a monitor] and that's all I remember," Walsh says. "Everything went white."

The rest of the story about Detective Joe Walsh's amazing journey through Philadelphia's pedophile priest scandals can be read here.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Another Sandusky-Related Victim Of The Abuse Myth

By Mark Pendergrast
for BigTrial.net

The Jerry Sandusky case continues to make news and ruin lives and careers. It is so toxic that even the most blatantly fraudulent hearsay becomes national headline news. Now Greg Schiano, Ohio State's defense coordinator, has been vilified without any justification whatsoever and has become a pariah.

Schiano had been selected as the next head football coach at the University of Tennessee.  His hiring was to be announced on Sunday night, Nov. 26, 2017. Instead, after a series of rumor-mongering tweets and political grandstanding, and a graffiti-covered rock on campus proclaiming “SCHIANO COVERED UP CHILD RAPE AT PENN STATE,” he was abruptly dropped like a hot potato.

Why?  Because of Mike McQueary, who changed his memory from hearing slapping sounds in a shower (of Sandusky snapping towels with a 13-year-old boy) to witnessing sexual abuse, ten years after the event.  And because McQueary then massaged his memory yet again two years ago in a deposition for a civil case, and recalled someone else (assistant coach Tom Bradley) allegedly telling him that Schiano, who was an assistant coach at Penn State from 1990 to 1995, had supposedly said that he saw Sandusky doing something bad to a boy in a shower. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Return of Vincenzo

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo is back in the news.

Fumo, who has kept a low profile since his 2013 release from prison, is the subject of an 8,000-word profile in Philadelphia magazine's December issue. "The Vince of Darkness" is also the subject of a book I've written, Target: The Senator; A Story About Power And Abuse of Power, now available on Kindle on amazon.com, and also for sale as a paperback, with a hard cover on the way.

I met Fumo back in 2008, when I covered his corruption trial that ended with him getting convicted on all 137 felony counts. I've been working on the book on and off for the past eight years. I'll say one thing about Fumo as a subject -- he may be the devil to some, a brilliant politician to others, but he's never been boring.

The Philly mag story, if you can find it after nearly a hundred pages of ads, makes for an interesting read.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Memory Issues In the Jerry Sandusky Case

By Mark Pendergrast
For BigTrial.net

Like most people, I assumed that Jerry Sandusky must be guilty before I began to research the case in depth.  After all, there was that eyewitness of shower abuse, and all those accusers.  But I soon came to realize that memory malleability and suggestibility were central to how the allegations against Jerry Sandusky arose, and after in-depth research, I concluded that Sandusky is probably innocent. 

What really alerted me initially was reading the trial transcript for June 13, 2012, where I found Dustin Stuble (“Victim 7”) explaining why his testimony had changed from what he said under oath at the grand jury the previous year. “Through counseling and through talking about different events, through talking about things in my past, different things triggered different memories and [I] have had more things come back, and it’s changed a lot about what I can remember today and what I could remember before, because I had everything negative blocked out.”

Aha! I thought.  It is obvious that he was in repressed memory therapy.  I was right, as Struble himself told me later, and it turned out that repressed memories lay at the core of the case against Sandusky, while other memory issues lay at the heart of the infamous shower scene that got Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier fired.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Requiem For An Old-School Pol; James J. Tayoun, 1930-2017

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

He was, at various stages of his long life, a Daily News sports writer, a restauranteur, a state representative, a City Councilman, a felon, a newspaper editor, a raconteur, always a true character, and above all else, an old-school politician.

Jimmy Tayoun died yesterday at 87, after collapsing in front of his home, and apparently suffering a heart attack.

As a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, I visited Tayoun back in 1993, when he was a guest at the Federal Correctional Institute, Schuylkill, in Minersville, PA. It's a sleepy minimum security prison located on a foggy mountaintop where the deer run free, about a 2 1/2 hour drive northwest of the city. At the time, Tayoun was doing 40 months after he got nailed by the feds for paying and taking bribes.

There was a basic honesty about Tayoun that shown through his prison whites, and his circumstances.

"OK, I'm not going to say I'm innocent," he told me. "I'm obviously guilty. I pleaded guilty and I'm here." Tayoun told me how the prosecutors got him to plead guilty. They did it by showing him the indictment they planned to file against his wife.

Tayoun demonstrated how he stuck out his two arms, as if voluntarily agreeing to be handcuffed. "You got me," is what he told the feds.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

For Rufus Seth Williams, No Last Visit With Mom

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The judge wouldn't even let him out of jail to see Mom

Today in court, Judge Paul S. Diamond ripped former Philadelphia District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams a new one before shipping him off to jail for five years.

"You sold yourself to the parasites you surrounded yourself with," the judge blasted Williams during a sentencing hearing. The judge talked about "your profound dishonesty," and told the city's former top law enforcement officer, "I simply don't find you credible."

This was while the judge was declaring Williams a flight risk, and saying he couldn't take a chance of letting Williams out of jail. So the former D.A. could stay at his ex-wife's house, at the request of his lawyers, where he was going to see his ailing 85-year-old Mom one last time.

"The defendant stole from his mother," the judge asked incredulously, "and now he wants to see her?" The judge thought that demand was "so outrageous," he said from the bench, that he didn't think there were words in the English language sufficient to express how outrageous it was. The judge even ripped Williams' prepared statement, as read in court by his lawyer, by saying it "sounded like a campaign speech." Ouch.

No, our sad sack of a D.A., who got through life by conning the gullible, including most of the reporters in this town, finally ran into somebody who wasn't buying it -- an angry Judge Diamond. Williams is lucky the plea bargain he agreed to didn't give the judge a chance to give Williams more time in jail. Because this judge surely would have been happy to do so.

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.

 

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