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.
 

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