Tuesday, April 10, 2018

'She Knew He Was Gonna Lie'

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

A lawyer for Msgr. William J. Lynn told a panel of state appeal court judges today that former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen knowingly put a witness on the stand that the lead detective in the case had repeatedly warned her was not truthful.

"She knew he was gonna lie," Thomas A. Bergstrom said about Sorensen and her star witness, Danny Gallagher, the lying, scheming altar boy.

Bergstrom accused the D.A.'s office of taking an "Alice in Wonderland" approach to the archdiocese sex abuse case. First, back in 2011, they indicted Msgr. Lynn, three priests, and a Catholic schoolteacher. Then, they asked Joe Walsh, their "hand-picked detective," to investigate the case, to see if Gallagher's allegations were true, Bergstrom told a panel of three state Superior Court judges. And what did the detective discover? That their "one and only witness is lying," Bergstrom said, referring again to Gallagher.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A Prosecutor's 'Lost' Notes And The Trail Of Deception Behind It

Former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen [right]
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

As Desi Arnaz used to say on the old I Love Lucy show, "Luuucyyy, you got some 'splainin to do!"

Now reprising the role of Lucy: former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen.

Court records show that defense lawyers in the "Billy Doe" sex abuse case had repeatedly sought Sorensen's long-lost notes from her initial interview eight years ago with the lying, scheming altar boy whose real name is Danny Gallagher. In three different courtrooms, in front of three different judges, three different prosecutors from the D.A.'s office, including Sorensen, have repeatedly stated that those notes didn't exist. But then, after a gap of eight years, those notes mysteriously reappeared last month, and somebody was kind enough to drop a copy on BigTrial.net.

The notes, a glaring example of prosecutorial misconduct, are relevant again. That's because the D.A.'s office, under the reform leadership of Progressive Larry Krasner, is proceeding with a planned retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy is accused of endangering the welfare of a child, Gallagher, by allegedly placing him in harm's way of a predator priest. But today we know that Gallagher previously admitted to Detective Joe Walsh, the lead detective on the case who filed a 12-page sworn affidavit, that Gallagher made up his stories of abuse about supposedly being raped by two priests and a Catholic schoolteacher.

But the legal show grinds on. Lawyers on both sides of the Msgr. Lynn case are scheduled to appear in state Superior Court on Tuesday morning, to argue appeal motions filed over the planned retrial of the monsignor. The Superior Court has twice already overturned the Lynn verdict; the monsignor's lawyers on Tuesday will be going for the trifecta. At the hearing, expect Lynn's lawyers to brandish Sorensen's long-lost notes, and tell the appeal judges about a continuing pattern of gross prosecutorial misconduct in the case originally championed by former D.A. Rufus Seth Williams, now wearing a jumpsuit in a federal prison in Oklahoma.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Progressive Larry Krasner Legalizes Prostitution In Philadelphia

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

In Philadelphia, under our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, it's now basically legal to be a prostitute, providing you're just getting started.

Under new policies announced on Feb. 15th by Krasner, his assistant D.A.s are being told "do not charge prostitution cases against sex workers where a person who has been arrested has two, one, or no prostitution convictions." In the case of a novice hooker, ADAs are instructed to "withdraw all pending cases in these categories that would be declined for charging under this policy."

But if a person has "three or more prostitution convictions," then an individual can be "charged with prostitution and immediately referred to DAWN Court," the new rules state. It's enough to make you wonder what Larry Krasner has against old hookers.

Other offenses that ADAs are being told to decline charging include possession of marijuana "regardless of weight," and paraphernalia offenses "where the drug involved is marijuana."

A former prosecutor who read the new policies described them as "agenda driven," adding, "He [Krasner] is very naive and obviously he's someone who has zero experience dealing with crime victims and the effects of crime." Another former prosecutor was even more blunt: "He doesn't give a fuck about victims."

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Prosecutor's 'Lost' Notes And The Pack Of Lies She Wrote

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

On Jan. 28, 2010, Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen and Detective Drew Snyder met behind closed doors at the D.A.'s office with Danny Gallagher, to hear for the first time his tearful tales of abuse.

Snyder had just bailed Gallagher out of Graterford Prison, where he was being held on a probation violation. Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe," the lying, scheming altar boy, was a third-rate con man with a rap sheet that included a half-dozen arrests for retail theft and drugs, including one bust for possession with intent to distribute 56 bags of heroin. He was just a junkie hustler trying to figure out a way to stay out of jail, and maybe score some easy cash.

So Gallagher told his stories to the prosecutor and the detective. Eight years later, we know those stories were all lies. But eight years ago, the facts didn't matter because prosecutor Sorensen was an ideologue on a mission, out to get the Catholic Church at any cost. And Detective Snyder, who usually investigated insurance fraud, apparently was in over his head.

Behind closed doors, the third-rate conman peddled an improbable story about a helpless altar boy being passed around by three brazen rapists, who were all conspiring with each other. And a couple of chumps named Sorensen and Snyder bought one lie after another, without doing any investigating. When they got finished, Sorensen wrote eleven of Danny Gallagher's outright lies, and a dozen of her own, into the 2011 grand jury report that indicted three priests and a school teacher for rape, as well as a monsignor, for endangering the welfare of children.

As Sorensen noted in that grand jury report, "These are sordid, shocking acts." She could have been talking about the crimes she committed against truth.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Prosecutor's Missing Notes About "Billy Doe" Mysteriously Reappear

Former ADA Mariana "You're Killing My Case" Sorensen
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Eight years ago, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen conducted the first interview with Danny Gallagher, AKA "Billy Doe," right after a detective bailed the former  altar boy out of jail, so he could assume the staring role in a witch hunt about to be staged against the Catholic Church.

But according to the D.A.'s office, Sorensen took no notes on Jan. 28, 2010, when she and Detective Drew Snyder interviewed Gallagher, along with his parents, at the D.A.'s office. According to what the D.A.'s office represented at two criminal trials, in front of at least three different judges, the only notes that existed from that initial interview with Gallagher were three pages of notes typed up by Detective Snyder.

Eight years later, seven pages of typed notes by Sorensen from that initial interview with Gallagher have mysteriously reappeared, a copy of which was sent to BigTrial. Defense lawyers in the case say those notes should have been turned over at two criminal trials, where three priests and a former schoolteacher were sent to jail for the alleged repeated rapes of Danny Gallagher. It's the latest episode of prosecutorial misconduct in a case replete with it, a case that's headed for a final chapter later this year when a new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, plans to retry Msgr. William J. Lynn, the lead defendant, on a charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Skinny Joey Vs. The Feds: Headed For A Rematch

In the latest episode of Mob Talk Sitdown, veteran crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser do some forecasting on whether reputed Philadelphia mob boss "Skinny Joey" Merlino faces a rematch with the feds, in the aftermath of his mistrial in Manhattan.

The odds are that he does, Anastasia says.

That's because the numbers both reporters are hearing from the secret jury deliberations in the big East Coast mob trial in federal court strongly favor the government.

So let's get ready to do it again. In the meantime, tune in to the latest episode of Mob Talk Sitdown.


Thomas Capano and the Murder of Anne Marie Fahey

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

He was a wealthy and politically connected lawyer, an arrogant and self-assured mover and shaker in Wilmington and throughout the state of Delaware.

She was a young, attractive appointment secretary to the governor.

At one time they were lovers.

She broke it off. He wanted her back.

When she balked, he killed her.

In many ways Tom Capano was more despicable than any mobster I have ever written about.

The Summer Wind is the story of that tragic love affair and senseless murder.

Now available as an ebook.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Billy In Philly -- Recalling Billy Graham's 1992 Philadelphia Crusade

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

America's most famous preacher was tall, 6-foot-3, with a regal mane of silver hair and bright blue eyes. And he seemed frail and unsteady as he walked across the spongy Astroturf at old Veterans Stadium.

Twenty-six years ago, I was standing in line to meet Billy Graham, who was about to launch a historic five-day crusade at the Vet.

I was a 38-year-old reporter  for The Philadelphia Inquirer who had wound up on the religion beat as a fluke. And I was not all that thrilled about meeting Richard Nixon's favorite preacher. But in person, the 73 year-old evangelist disarmed me by how gracious he was.

When it was my turn to greet him, Billy grabbed my hand, held it, and thanked me for all the wonderful stories I had written about him. I wondered if he was kidding, but he seemed so sincere about it, and went out of his way to be kind.

“Why I never knew you were so young and so handsome,” Billy gushed. Ok, he may have been a bit corny, but one on one, this world-famous celebrity would much rather talk about you than himself. I was struck by his humility. He made me wish I’d been kinder to him in print.

Mob Talk Sitdown: A Mistrial In The Merlino Case


In the latest episode of Mob Talk Sitdown, veteran crime journalists George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser have the latest on Philadelphia Mob Boss Joey Merlino.

He dodged another bullet in federal court on Tuesday when a jury failed to reach a verdict on gambling and healthcare fraud charges after a three-week trial. A mistrial was declared. So where does that leave the 55-year-old gangster?





Monday, January 29, 2018

Joey Merlino Rolls the Dice


By George Anastasia

Same game.

Different venue.

Philadelphia's only celebrity gangster, Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, goes on trial this week in federal court in Manhattan for racketeering and conspiracy charges that could land him in jail or a good part of the rest of his life.

He's been there before.

But this time the stakes seem even higher.

The rest of the story can be read HERE.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

How Vince Fumo Saved The Eagles From Moving To Phoenix

From Target: The Senator;
A Story About Power And Abuse of Power

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Motorcycle cops in South Miami were stopping traffic at every intersection, to let a long black limousine go by without having to brake for any red lights.

Inside the limo, Leonard Tose, the flamboyant big spender who owned the Philadelphia Eagles, was on the way to his super box at the Orange Bowl.

On the afternoon of November 11, 1984, the Eagles were playing the Miami Dolphins. And riding in the back of the limo along with Tose and his daughter, Susan Fletcher, were their VIP guests: Pennsylvania Senator Vincent J. Fumo and his fifteen-year-old son, Vincent E. Fumo II.

The Eagles owner had invited the senator to the game because he wanted to get something off his chest. Up in the super box, Tose told Fumo about his recent negotiations with the City of Philadelphia. The Eagles owner wanted to build luxury skyboxes atop aging Veterans Stadium, to bring in new revenues. But Philadelphia officials had blown him off, and Tose wasn't happy about it.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Msgr. Lynn's Lawyers: D.A. Knowingly Put Liar On Stand

New D.A. Larry Krasner Scopes Out His Options In The Lynn Case
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn have accused the district attorney's office of dishonesty and cowardice, for attempting to escape the consequences of knowingly putting a lying witness on the stand.

The lying witness, of course, is "Billy Doe," AKA Danny Gallagher, the lying, scheming altar boy.

In a testy five-page reply brief filed yesterday in state Superior Court, Lynn's lawyers took issue with the D.A.'s contention that there was no so-called Brady violation that resulted from the testimony last year in Common Pleas Court of retired Detective Joe Walsh, who came forward to expose Gallagher for the fraud he is.

Walsh testified that when he prepped Gallagher for trial in 2012, the detective quizzed the former altar boy about the numerous factual discrepancies in his many imaginative and vastly differing tales of abuse. According to Walsh, Gallagher responded by claiming he was high on drugs, hanging his head and saying nothing, or telling some new stories.

None of Gallagher's evasive activities were reported to Lynn's lawyers, as required by Brady v. Maryland, the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case that held that prosecutors must turn over any evidence that might be beneficial to a defendant.

Monday, January 22, 2018

"Hey Fredo -- Bring Out The Peppers And Sausage"

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Last week, I took a virtual tour of the new merged Inquirer/Daily News/philly.com newsroom, thanks to a brand new feature on their website that's accessible to even hardcore non-subscribers like myself.

It's been 20 years since my last day at the Inquirer, when I was escorted out of the building by an editor. So, I figured I was due for a return visit. But I emerged from my virtual tour feeling like Frank Pentangeli.

Remember the scene in Godfather II where crusty old Frank [AKA "Frankie Five Angels" and "Frankie Pants"] attends the first communion of the late Don Corleone's grandson. It's a big fancy party on the shores of Lake Tahoe, Nevada back in 1958; quite a contrast with the old-fashioned Sicilian wedding scene set on Long Island  in 1945 that opened the original Godfather.

"Hey Fredo," Frank says, "What's with the food around here?"

"A kid comes up to me in a white jacket, gives me a Ritz cracker, and uh, chopped liver, he says canapés  I say uh, uh, can o' peas my ass, that's a Ritz cracker and chopped liver! . . . Bring out the peppers and sausage."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New D.A. Krasner Going Forward With Retrial Of Msgr. Lynn

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

It didn't take long for our new D.A., Progressive Larry Krasner, to screw up big-time.

In a 24-page brief filed Tuesday in state Superior Court, Krasner, who's in his first month on the job, has decided to go forward with an ill-advised appeal in the case of Msgr. William J. Lynn. He's the former secretary for clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia whose 2012 conviction on one count of endangering the welfare of a child has twice been overturned by the state Superior Court.

In the brief, which is filled with all sorts of official dishonesty in a case that is already a travesty of justice, the new D.A. pretends that a trial judge last year didn't find the D.A.'s office under Krasner's predecessor, Rufus Seth Williams, guilty of prosecutorial misconduct. When the judge clearly did, and stated so in open court.

The D.A. also attempts to pave over the main issue in the case, mainly that one of the prosecutors, former Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, had no qualms about putting a star witness on the stand, Danny Gallagher AKA "Billy Doe," the lying scheming altar boy, when she knew he was a liar. Even though she had been repeatedly informed by Detective Joseph Walsh, the lead detective in the case, that all the evidence Walsh had gathered during his investigation contradicted the fables Gallagher was telling, but they were politically correct fables that the prosecutors wanted to hear.

D.A. Won't Press Charges Against Teacher Who Cursed Out Cops

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

A Philadelphia schoolteacher who yelled and cursed out police officers during a protest last August over the Frank Rizzo statue will not have to face any legal consequences for his actions.

Police have been informed by the D.A.'s office that Progressive Larry Krasner, our new D.A. bought and paid for with more than $1 million of George Soros money, has dropped the charges against John Sheerin, who had been arrested and charged with harassment and making terroristic threats.

Police said that Sheerin, 63, a teacher at Julia De Burgos Elementary School in North Philadelphia,  got into an argument with the cops and cursed them out. It happened at a rally where protesters were chanting "Tear it down." Sheerin, standing at a police barricade in front of the statue, was recorded on a cell phone video yelling obscenities at white "racist" cops who were guarding the Rizzo statue at Thomas Paine Plaza.

Sheerin was suspended by the school district, pending an internal investigation. But now that Krasner has let him off, he can return to his job and teach our kids how to curse out cops and get away with it, all in the name of social justice.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Chaos At The D.A.'s Office; Two Different Lists Of Fired Employees

Back In Action
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

On Friday, when the Philly D.A.'s office was closed due to frigid weather, assistant district attorneys were getting calls on their cell phones, telling them to come right down to the office.

Inside, people were lined up, waiting to be fired.

The first list of the newly fired people that went up had 28 names on it. The man on the right, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, was No. 25 on that list.

But by the end of the day, a new list of 31 names went up. And Blessington's name was nowhere to be found. Rumor had it that some last-minute lobbying had saved the job of the lead prosecutor in the case of Msgr. William J. Lynn.

Blessington, who had been targeted in the "Porngate" scandal -- unfairly, truth be told, because he supposedly never opened any of the pornographic emails sent to his cue -- had been spared in the purge by Krasner.

"District Attorney Lawrence S. Krasner requests the resignations of the following," the memo from the new chief of staff said, "with the understanding that they are not to return."

Three of the names on the list were circled, highlighting the ADAs with gun permits.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

At D.A.'s Office Nobody Left To Prosecute Msgr. Lynn

Jeff Lindy: The Left-Wing D.A.'s New Right Hand Man
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

After new District Attorney Larry Krasner got through cleaning house yesterday by firing 30 assistant district attorneys, there's nobody left to prosecute Msgr. William J. Lynn.

One of the ADAs whacked by Krasner was Patrick Blessington, the lead prosecutor on the Lynn case. Blessington was also the guy who attacked retired Detective Joe Walsh as a "rogue" cop, saying he wasn't authorized to interview more than 30 witnesses in the Billy Doe case.

 Blessington had nonsensically claimed that Walsh had done the interviews on his own. That, of course, prompted laughs from Judge Ellen Ceisler. In the Philadelphia archdiocese sex abuse prosecutions, Walsh was the key witness who came forward to say that he believed Billy Doe was a liar, and that Doe, whose real name is Danny Gallagher, had admitted to Walsh that he just "made up stuff." The retired detective's testimony has already forced the D.A. to let Bernard Shero, a former Catholic schoolteacher convicted of raping Gallagher, out of jail nearly a dozen years early.

Walsh was going to be the defense's star witness if the D.A. proceeded with its announced plans to retry Msgr. Lynn on one count of endangering the welfare of children. But now it looks as though that retrial may never happen, because of some other moves Krasner made.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

For Big Trial, A Look Back, A Look Forward

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

If they made a movie out of Big Trial's top stories from 2017, it would be called Trading Places, starring former District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams and convicted child rapist Bernard Shero.

Shero, falsely accused of rape by a lying scheming altar boy, got out of jail nearly a dozen years early, thanks to the dogged reporting of this blog, and the revelatory testimony of retired Detective Joe Walsh.

Williams, the corrupt D.A. who cooked up the fraudulent "Billy Doe" prosecution that sent former Catholic schoolteacher Shero to jail, along with three falsely accused Catholic priests, wound up in prison for political corruption, thanks to the work of the U.S. Attorney's Office from Jersey, which prosecuted the case.

If it wasn't legal justice, it certainly was poetic justice -- Shero, finally a free man, and Rufus, in a jump suit, and finally where he belongs, behind bars.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Harvey Silverglate's Foreword To Target: The Senator

By Harvey A. Silverglate

My criminal defense and civil liberties law practice, spanning half a century, has exposed me to several shockingly broad gaps in American life between appearance and reality. 

No gap, in my experience, has been broader than that between the commonly accepted reputation of federal criminal justice and the sordid realities of how the United States Department of Justice, often with the connivance of the federal judiciary, dispenses justice.

A disproportionate number of federal trial and appellate court judges are former prosecutors, and so there is an uncomfortable amount of symbiosis between the Justice Department and the bench. The number and variety of innocent people railroaded by the system would be sufficient to undermine any semblance of public confidence in federal criminal justice if the public understood the details of these cases.


 

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