Monday, February 20, 2017

Shame Of The City: Rufus Seth Williams, Our Lawless D.A.

D.A. Announces He Won't Run Again AP/Matt Rourke
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Last week, R. Seth Williams, our beleaguered district attorney, gave a brief defense of his time in office as the city's top prosecutor.

"Look, I've made some mistakes," Williams told Inquirer political columnist Chris Brennan. But "I was a great D.A. in terms of what we did internally" to change how the office operates.

Allow me to advance an alternative thesis: Williams did institute some far-reaching changes at the D.A.'s office, but it wasn't for the better. With three big decisions during his eight-year tenure, Williams stepped into the middle of public controversies and placed his own personal political ambitions above the law, with disastrous consequences.

The sins of Seth Williams have put innocent men in jail, and allowed 852 convicted drug dealers and hundreds of domestic abusers and other criminals to go free. The sins of Seth Williams have perverted truth and justice, wreaked havoc upon the citizens he was sworn to protect, and will ultimately cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

D.A.'s Office To Start Charging More Domestic Violence Suspects

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

In an abrupt about-face, the beleaguered District Attorney's Office has decided to start charging more suspects in domestic violence cases, even if the victim declines to make a statement.

The D.A.'s office has been criticized privately by police for years for not following state law in charging suspects in domestic violence cases where the police observe injuries and know who the perpetrator is, with or without a victim's statement.

The D.A.'s about face, laid out in an email and a new policy statement, comes after a tumultuous few weeks where a Newsweek article featured the president of the local Fraternal Order of Police blasting D.A. Seth Williams for refusing to charge "iron-clad" cases.

The hundreds of cases declined by the D.A.'s office for charging included an embarrassing attempted bank robbery, where police caught a suspect inside the bank red-handed trying to break into a vault and tampering with an ATM machine. Even  though the cops had stills from a security camera video showing what the suspect was up to, and a written account of the incident from a bank security official, the D.A.'s office refused to charge the suspect.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Missing In Domestic Abuse Case: "A Chunk Of Her HaIr"

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The victim, a 36-year-old female, was shaking and crying when the police showed up.

She told the cops she had been arguing with her boyfriend when he "grabbed her and ripped out a chunk of her hair," police records state.

"Police noticed a chunk of hair missing from the center of complainant's head," the records state. So on Nov. 20, 2016, police drove to a home in Germantown where the crime had allegedly occurred and found Corey Richardson, 40, in the upstairs bedroom "along with the chunk of missing hair" thrown on the floor.

The cops arrested Richardson, and submitted an affidavit of probable cause to the D.A.'s office. An open and shut case of domestic violence? Not when D.A. Seth Williams' "Smart on Crime" charging unit is on duty.

 On Nov. 21, 2016, the D.A. declined to prosecute the suspect because the victim had not given a statement. Even though the cops protested that the information contained in the officer's statement was sufficient to charge the suspect.

Richardson, however, a career criminal with a history of violent acts, was never charged for assaulting his girlfriend.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Cop Who Took Down The Mob

By George Anastasia
For BigTrial.net

He grew up in North Jersey.

He could have been a wise guy.

Instead, he became a cop.

And spent his career building cases that destroyed the mob.

Read the full story here:
http://jerseymanmagazine.com/taking-down-the-mob/

Did Seth Williams Spend Valentine's Day With The Feds?

AP/Matt Rourke
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Reports and all kinds of rumors swept through the city today regarding Seth Williams and the feds.

The first reports involved the feds allegedly escorting Williams out of the D.A.'s office early this morning. Next, the D.A. was supposedly sighted at the federal courthouse at 6th and Market.

Meanwhile, like a pack of vultures, a crowd of reporters and TV camera crews was gathered outside the D.A.'s office, as if they were expecting some sort of big announcement today as the Seth Williams death watch went into full swing.

D.A.'s Office Under Seth Williams Won't Prosecute Domestic Violence

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

On Nov. 22, 2015, Timothy Cohen, 38, of West Philadelphia, a patron at the Liberty Bar, put a hat on the head of a female bar employee.

Cohen then allegedly used the strings from the hat to strangle the victim “to a point where she could not breathe or scream,” according to a police affidavit of probable cause. 

"She struggled with Cohen," the affidavit says, until he "let go and left the premises." Cohen had also gone on Facebook and made “threatening posts” against the victim, according to the affidavit.

The victim was treated at Penn Presbyterian Hospital later that day for a sprained cervical column. But when the cops sent a probable cause affidavit over to the district attorney's office, the D.A. declined to charge the suspect, citing "insufficient evidence." 

The D.A.'s office told the police they needed to obtain photos of the victim's injuries, a copy of the defendant’s phone records and his voice mails. The D.A.'s office also wanted to know if there were any witnesses at the bar who may have seen the incident.

Cohen, according to police records, was not charged for the assault. 

The district attorney's office declined to discuss the case.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Cops, The D.A., And That South Philly Bank Job


By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Everybody agrees that on the morning of Sept. 30, 2016, the police caught Kenneth D. Dixon, 20, of West Philadelphia, inside a Bank of America branch at 23rd and Oregon in South Philadelphia.

Since Dixon was arrested inside the bank at 7:38 a.m., at a time when the bank was closed, it's safe to assume that Dixon let himself in.

The cops thought Dixon was guilty of burglary. That's because they were notified by bank security before they arrived at the scene of the crime that a suspect had been captured on a video camera "attempting to gain access to the vault” and “tampering’ with an ATM machine, according to police records.

But when the cops tried to get the D.A.'s office to approve an affidavit of probable cause, so that Dixon could be charged with burglary, the district attorney's office turned them down later that day, citing "incomplete discovery” and “insufficient evidence." 

As Deputy District Attorney Michael Barry explained in an interview last week, the cops didn't personally witness Dixon trying to break into the vault or tampering with the ATM. They had only observed Dixon inside the bank at a time when it was closed, so the cops could only testify that Dixon was guilty of trespassing. 

What happened next with the bank job is a bizarre tale of how criminal justice in Philadelphia is carried out under the reign of our now admittedly corrupt District Attorney Seth Williams. This is a guy who would be doing everyone in the city a favor by finishing the job he started on Friday, when he announced he wouldn't seek a third term in a May 16th Democratic primary, by resigning from office today.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Our Corrupt D.A. And Four "Truly Innocent" Men That He Put In Jail

Shame of the city: Our corrupt D.A. Photo: AP/Matt Rourke
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

There was a truly cringe-worthy moment at Seth Williams' teary press conference on Friday where he announced that he wouldn't seek a third term as D.A.

It came when Williams was talking about his many alleged accomplishments in office that included the "enhancement of our Conviction Review Unit."

In case you missed it, the D.A. has an entire squad whose mission is, in Williams' words, "to ensure that we do all that we can to exonerate the truly innocent."

"So that not one Philadelphian spends a day in prison if they shouldn't," Williams said.

Unbelievable words coming from this guy, on this day.

Well, the D.A.'s Conviction Review Unit doesn't have to look far to find the "truly innocent." There are four truly innocent men right now that the D.A.'s squad can get started on exonerating. They can begin with Msgr. William J. Lynn and former Catholic schoolteacher Bernard Shero.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Newsweek: Philly D.A. Declined To Prosecute "Iron-Clad" Cases

By Ralph Cipriano

When the alarm went off inside a closed Bank of America branch in South Philadelphia, a security camera captured a suspect wearing a hoodie “attempting to gain access to the vault” and “tampering’ with an ATM machine, according to police records.

When police responded to a call of a theft in progress at 7:38 a.m. on Sept. 30, 2016, they ordered the suspect, still inside the bank, “to come towards the officers” and open a locked back door. Taken into custody was Kenneth D. Dixon, 20, of West Philadelphia.

As far as the cops were concerned, it was a slam-dunk burglary arrest. But when they sent a probable cause affidavit over to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, the D.A. shocked the cops later that same day by declining to charge the suspect.

The rest of the story can be read here.


D.A. Seth Williams Not Running For Reelection

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

District Attorney R. Seth Williams is expected to announce this morning that he will not run for reelection.

The city's first African American District Attorney, elected in 2009, will say that he's decided not to run for a third-term in the May primary against five already declared opponents, with probably more on the way.

The D.A. has called a 10 a.m. press conference at his office to make an "important announcement." Several sources have confirmed that's he's going to say that he's not running. And that Williams is trying to get out ahead of a possible federal indictment that may be coming in the next two weeks.

Video of the Williams press conference from 6ABC can be seen here.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Did A Sex Scandal Force Police Watchdog Kelvyn Anderson Out?

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

He gained a reputation as a reformer and a watchdog while investigating allegations of police misconduct. But did his own misconduct, in the form of an alleged sex scandal, force Kelyvn Anderson out of office?

Anderson, the executive director of Police Advisory Commission, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, resigned last week.

His departure was first reported on Feb. 2 by  newsworks.org. In the story, where Anderson was hailed as a "longtime reformer," he explained that he was "leaving to pursue opportunities for consulting around police and community issues."

Later that same day, Anderson told The Philadelphia Inquirer that a recent executive order from Mayor Jim Kenney broadening the commission's duties had provided "the right opportunity for a new leader to step in," the newspaper reported.

But knowledgable sources tell a different story --- that Anderson's departure from office was proceeded by an investigation of the Police Department's Special Victims Unit. An investigation into allegations that Anderson had a sexual relationship with a woman who was appealing a police misconduct case against officers in the Northeast Detectives Division.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Jury: Farnese, Chapman Not Guilty On All 13 Counts

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office declined comment . . .
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The government saw an international bribery conspiracy in a $6,000 scholarship that state Senator Larry Farnese arranged for the daughter of a Democratic committee woman who wanted to study abroad in Central Asia.

But a jury didn't see it that way. After a week-long trial, a jury today found Farnese and Ellen Chapman, the Democratic committee woman who was Farnese's co-defendant, not guilty on all 13 charges in an overblown federal indictment that alleged conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, as well as violations of the U.S. Travel Act.

For Farnese, it was the end of a 14-month ordeal that began with a grand jury investigation. The news that the FBI was snooping around Farnese's 2011 election as ward leader hit The Philadelphia Inquirer last April. The federal indictment of Farnese and Chapman was announced a month later.

"I always believed that this day would come," an emotional Farnese said today. "I'm an attorney and an elected official and so I never lost faith in the system. In fact, what happened today just reaffirms my faith in the system."

 

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