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.

 

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