Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Can Msgr. Lynn Case Be Retried Without A Victim?

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Judge Gwendolyn Bright today set a Jan. 13th date for the retrial of Msgr. William J. Lynn on a single charge of endangering the welfare of a child. Now the question hanging over the case is whether the D.A.'s star witness will be there.

Judge Bright also set an Oct. 28th date for a pre-trial hearing in the case, at which two big issues may be discussed. One is the topic of further prosecutorial misconduct in the case involving two sets of documents that the D.A.'s office withheld from defense lawyers during the original trial.

The second more complicated issue is whether the D.A.'s office will be able to retry the case against the monsignor without a victim. In doing so, the D.A.'s office would spare itself the burden of having to watch former altar boy Danny Gallagher try to explain on the witness stand all of his many lies and memory lapses while he was fraudulently claiming in three different courtrooms that he was supposedly raped by two priests and a schoolteacher.

The big question is whether Judge Bright will go along with a victim-less case.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Frank Fina Gets Spanked!

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Frank Fina finally got his comeuppance.

In a 36-page report issued today, the Disciplinary Board of the state Supreme Court called for a suspension of the former deputy attorney general's law license for a year and a day. That recommendation now goes before the state Supreme Court.

Fina, the former lead prosecutor in the so-called Penn State sex abuse case, got blasted yesterday by the disciplinary board for his "reprehensible" and "inexcusable" conduct. Fina, the disciplinary board said, was guilty of purposely duping a grand jury judge into thinking that Fina wasn't going to press Cynthia Baldwin, Penn State's former counsel, into breaking the attorney-client privilege behind closed doors and betraying three top Penn State officials who were her former clients.

Monday, June 3, 2019

A Cloud Of Corruption Over City's Purchase of New Voting Machines

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

There was no formal announcement made or press conference held to commemorate the event. But the week before the May 21st primary election, the Kenney administration quietly signed a $29 million contract to buy new voting machines.

Two weeks later, when the election was over, and the mayor victorious by a landslide, his spokesman confirmed last Friday that the voting machines contract had indeed been "signed by all parties and finalized in the city system." The unannounced contract includes an additional $6 million in possible contingency costs, which would put the total purchase at $35 million, with additional expenses expected to follow.

While the city administration proceeds with plans to buy what critics say are the most expensive and riskiest voting machines out there as far as hackers are concerned, the ExpressVoteXL, the controller's office has issued two series of subpoenas prying into the secrecy of the procurement process behind the purchase. With the assistance of outside counsel, city Controller Rebecca Rhynhart is proceededing with her own investigation of the murky deal that may ultimately cost taxpayers more than $50 million.

Happy Birthday To The Inky!

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Last week, I tried to get Inquirer Publisher Terry Egger to comment on the latest round of buyouts in the newsroom where they haven't had a raise in more than ten years, but the publisher of the year wouldn't talk to me about it.

I was also curious about why the Inky can't afford raises for newsroom employees, but they can afford to blow hundreds of thousands of dollars on expensive independent contractors [like Brian Tierney] and officers of the nonprofit that owns the for-profit Inky, but did I mention that Terry wouldn't talk to me?

But now Terry is talking to me. And he's positively giddy about it.

"Dear RALPH," Terry wrote me in a chirpy email at 7:23 a.m. this morning. "We're a little giddy about being 190 -- and excited for the next 190 years. We're glad to have you along for the ride so we can share stories like these . . . " And then Terry proceeded to brag about some examples of that "high impact journalism," as written by those same employees who haven't had a raise in more than 10 years.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

D.A. Krasner Loses Msgr. Lynn Appeal; Up Next A Retrial

D.A. Krasner: Ideologue Or Masochist?
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The state Supreme Court last week denied an appeal by Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, clearing the way for a retrial of the long-running child endangerment case against Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

On Thursday, the state Supreme Court in a brief two-sentence order wrote that the D.A.'s "petition for allowance of appeal is DENIED."

The D.A.'s office had tried to overturn Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn Bright's pre-trial ruling that prosecutors could only introduce as evidence against Lynn three supplemental cases of sex abuse -- in addition to the case where he's accused of endangering the welfare of a child -- to show a pattern of cover-ups in the archdiocese. The D.A.'s office had wanted to present nine such cases as part of a strategy to put Lynn on trial as a scapegoat for the collective sins of the archdiocese against children.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Upstairs Downstairs At The Inquirer

Mr. & Mrs. Egger visit the newsroom
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

At Philadelphia Media Network, they're staging an Upstairs Downstairs revival with no end in sight.

In the newsroom of the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com, members of the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia have posted signs commemorating the grim fact that they've gone more than 3,500 days without a raise. And now management wants 30 union members to take a buyout next month, or else more layoffs may be on the way.

But for the independent contractors and officers of the fat nonprofit that owns PMN, the cash bequeathed by the late philanthropist, Gerry Lenfest, never seems to run out.

Even when management's grand plans for reviving the hometown papers don't pan out, nobody who lives upstairs has to worry about taking the hit.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Former Federal Agent Details Political Corruption In PSU Investigation

On this week's Lions Of Liberty podcast, former NCIS Special Agent John Snedden outlined the extensive political corruption that plagued the so-called Penn State sex scandal.

Snedden dissects the flawed, "agenda-driven" investigations done by Attorney General and Louis Freeh. He talks about a "blatantly fictitious" grand jury presentment, and an "appalling" lack of judgement displayed by the Penn State Board of Trustees.

Then, Snedden takes on the "corrupt" Pennsylvania judiciary which signed off multiple times on the unconstitutional prosecution of Graham Spanier, and the "vindictive" former governor who "slow-walked" the Sandusky investigation to a preconceived conclusion.

The entire 40-minute broadcast can be heard here.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Former Assistant Football Coach Confronts PSU Trustees

On Friday, Dick Anderson, a former Penn State assistant football coach, spoke to the Penn State Board of Trustees and told them something they didn't want to hear.

Here's what Anderson had to say:

On Nov. 9, 2011, Joe Paterno was fired by the Board of Trustees without due process, despite his 61 years of unparalleled service to this university and this community. The board, confused and conflicted, was influenced by a vengeful Gov. Corbett and a trustee with a personal vendetta that hijacked its leadership. In addition, there was a bold-faced lie written by Pennsylvania Prosecutor Jonelle Eshbach.

[Editor's note: The bold-faced lie was that Mike McQueary had witnessed Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy in the showers. After 18 years, no alleged victim has come forward; prosecutors claimed  the identity of the boy was "known only to God." A previously undisclosed federal investigation determined that the alleged facts of the incident didn't make any sense, and that the only alleged witness, McQueary, wasn't credible.]

The board, fearing the NCAA, and lacking experience from within, jumped outside the university for counsel. They neglected to seek advice from PSU Professor John Coyle, an internationally recognized logistics expert, who was the faculty representative to the NCAA for 30 years, and John Bove, who served as Penn State's compliance coordinator for 14 years. Both men had intimate knowledge and personal relationships with the NCAA.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Mayor Kenney On Controller's Voting Machine Objections: "I Don't Know What Her Problem Is"

By Ralph Cipriano
for Philadelphia magazine

Mayor Jim Kenney has come out swinging in defense of the city's looming purchase of more than $50 million worth of new voting machines that critics say are too expensive, susceptible to hackers, and the product of a tainted procurement process.

On Monday, the City Commissioners' Office, which oversees elections, took delivery of 83 new ExpressVoteXL machines worth about $8,000 each, or some $664,000, without benefit of a contract, public vote, or any money appropriated to pay for it. City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart has publicly pledged to block the purchase of the machines because she's "deeply concerned about the legality of this process."

"We believe we're right," the mayor insisted in a brief interview following a press conference on economic development at City Hall on Thursday. "We think she's wrong, we did our due diligence. I don't know what her problem is."

The rest of the story can be read here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Graham Spanier Beats The Rap; Will Ruling Help Msgr. Lynn?

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Graham Spanier was scheduled to report to the Dauphin County Prison this morning at 9 a.m.

But last night, a federal judge threw out Spanier's 2017 conviction on one misdemeanor count of child endangerment. In a brief, two-page order, U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Mehalchick ruled in favor of the former Penn State University president's writ of habeas corpus, basically a legal request to "produce the body" of a convicted person before a judge, to decide if there's a lawful reason for that person to be detained.

In the case of Spanier, scheduled to go to prison today for two months, the judge decided that there wasn't a lawful reason to jail him, no matter what prosecutors said. So the judge wrote that Spanier's writ of habeas corpus "is GRANTED with respect to the first two grounds raised in the petition, namely that the application of the 2007 child endangerment statute to his 2001 conduct, and the jury instruction based on the 2007 statute, as applied to Spanier, are unconstitutional."

The simple concept at work in the federal magistrate's decision is something that Big Trial and some state appeal judges have been arguing for years, with mixed results. Namely that's it's unconstitutional for prosecutors to try a person ex post facto, or after the fact, under the standards of the state's original child endangerment law, if that law originally didn't apply to him.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Philly Screws Up $50 Million Voting Machines Purchase

With these two guys in the mix, what could possibly go wrong?
By Ralph Cipriano
for Philadelphia magazine

Philadelphia's city commissioners, who oversee elections, say they've purchased the best -- and most expensive -- new voting machines out there just in time for the Nov. 5th election.

The ExpressVoteXL features a 32-inch touch screen that displays the full ballot, a familiar feature of the old machines the city is replacing, as well as a new safety measure mandated by Gov. Wolf: a verifiable paper trail.

The ExpressVoteXL costs about $8,000 each, and by the time the city gets through buying, servicing and maintaining all 3,735 new machines, as well as purchasing ancillary equipment, the total bill, according to official estimates, may be between $50 million and $60 million.

If the city picked the right machines, however, they went about it the wrong way, say some elected public watchdogs and knowledgable critics. And now it's up to city controller Rebecca Rhyhnart to decide whether she's going to use powers granted to her under the city charter to try to block the purchase.

The rest of the story can be read here.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Will Slippery Frank Fina Beat The Rap Again?


By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

In oral arguments today before the state Disciplinary Board, Amelia C. Kittredge urged a panel of judges to "simply apply some common sense" and finally reign in former Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina, whom she accurately pegged as an "overzealous prosecutor."

Kittredge, a lawyer for the state's Office of Disciplinary Counsel, has been stalking the ethically-challenged Fina for a couple of years now. She told the Disciplinary Board that Fina broke "the most revered" and "sacred" legal privilege of them all, the attorney-client privilege, and for that he deserves to be publicly censured.

Fina does have a proven track record of leaking grand jury secrets, trampling on constitutional rights of the accused, and blowing off legal ethics, but for years his brazen conduct been protected in the courts by what some would describe as the old-boys network. But Kittredge pummeled away at Fina today, saying the Disciplinary Board cannot allow Fina to basically use a loophole to "obliterate" a longstanding rule of professional conduct that's the only defense against an overzealous prosecutor like Fina who seeks to subvert the most basic protection afforded by the criminal justice system, by turning a defendant's own lawyer into a witness against him.

Monday, March 4, 2019

An Unscrupulous Prosecutor's Best Friend: A Stooge In The Media

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

At the Feb. 25th press conference in Happy Valley, reporter Gary Sinderson asked me a leading question about prevailing narratives in the media that turn out to be wrong.

Sinderson and I were both lamenting how in high profile sex abuse cases, the media often gets it wrong. It was Sinderson who pointed out that the prevailing narrative in the Penn State case has become the permanent narrative. Because the mainstream media stubbornly refuses to reexamine what they originally got wrong. Even though that involves having to join an official ongoing cover up by the trustees at Penn State. And having to willfully ignore reams of startling new evidence that's finally seeing the light of day.

If you want to see the exchange, it happens at minute 15:30 in the clip below about an X-rated comic book. That's my term for the accusations of the 36 alleged victims in the so-called Penn State sex abuse scandal that would merely be laughable if that X-rated comic book hadn't cost Penn State a total of $118 million.

The reporter's question gave me an opportunity to sermonize about how a prosecutor wins a high-profile media case before it ever comes to trial. This is something I can give a seminar on, sadly, because I've watched it successfully practiced over and over again in Philadelphia, as well as at Penn State.

It's called controlling the narrative. And prosecutors are very good at it. All they need is a little help from their friends.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Former Federal Agent On Attorney General & Louis Freeh: 'Two Politically Motivated, Agenda-Driven & Collusive Reports'


Cipriano: 'An X-Rated Comic Book' That Cost Penn State $118 Million




Dick Anderson: 'The Cat Is Out Of The Bag'


Sandusky's Lawyer: 'This Is Not Going To Go Away'


Jeff Byers: 'The Truth Of The Entire Story'


Friday, February 22, 2019

Press Conference In Happy Valley

On Monday at 10 a.m., Al Lindsay, Jerry Sandusky's appeals lawyer, will talk to the media about his reaction to the report of seven Penn State trustees on the "flawed methodology and conclusions" of the Louis Freeh Report.

"Of course we are gratified that somebody in a position of authority has challenged the Freeh Report, which, of course, we believe was flawed in many ways," Lindsay said in a press release. "I must reluctantly state, however, that there is a significant flaw in the A7 Report. The Report accepts as gospel that Jerry Sandusky actually did these things. So much of what is wrong in the Freeh Report and the A7 response, is that we are operating under that paradigm. Of course, it is our position from day one that Jerry Sandusky is absolutely innocent of the charges and was convicted of the various counts only by a very flawed criminal trial."

Also appearing with Lindsay will be John Snedden, a former NCIS special agent who conducted a contemporaneous but previously unknown federal investigation on the Penn State campus for six months in 2012 and found no official cover up.

In the press release, Snedden described previous investigations at Penn State as "politically motivated, agenda-driven, and collusive."

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Unholy Triangle At PSU: The Media, Prosecutors And Plaintiff's Lawyers

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Alexander H. Lindsay Jr. was happy to read the formerly confidential report done by seven Penn State trustees that catalogued the many faults and failures of the Louis Freeh Report.

"We agree with the substance of the [trustees'] report" on Freeh, Lindsay said. "But it doesn't go far enough."

Lindsay, a former Butler County assistant district attorney and a former assistant U.S. Attorney under Dick Thornburgh, is the long-suffering defense lawyer for Jerry Sandusky. In took the trustees 113 pages to make their case. Lindsay's review of the Freeh Report, however, is far more succinct.

"It's total fiction from top to bottom," Lindsay said about the Freeh Report, which the NCAA used as the basis for imposing draconian sanctions on Penn State. Lindsay has the same view of the 2011 grand jury presentment that had to invent a lurid but imaginary child rape in the showers to brand his client forever as a raging, serial pedophile.

"They're all wrong," Lindsay said about the twin works of fiction issued by Freeh and the attorney general's office that are still being propped up by the media as legit. In the view of Lindsay, a lone voice in the wilderness, his guy is totally innocent. And, Lindsay will tell you about Jerry Sandusky and his loyal wife, Dottie, they happen to be "two of the bravest and most courageous people I have ever known."

So how does an innocent man wind up in jail? Lindsay blames the work of "an unholy triangle of forces that push these things ahead [in lurid, high profile media cases] and result in false convictions."

He's talking about the convergence of a hysterical media, overzealous prosecutors, and hungry plaintiff's lawyers. All of this was on vivid display at Penn State, as Lindsay is about to explain.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Penn State Cover Up Ends With Leak Of Louis Freeh's Top-Secret Report Card; He Flunked And Penn State Wants Their $8.3 Million Back

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

WJAC-TV reporter Gary Sinderson went on the air in Johnstown tonight with a big scoop: somebody leaked the confidential internal review of the Louis Freeh Report on Penn State.

The internal review, compiled over two years by seven minority members of the Penn State Board of Trustees, gave the former FBI director a failing grade for his supposedly independent investigation. The internal review found that Freeh's investigation wasn't so independent after all; it was also tainted by bias, factual mistakes, and faulty opinions dressed up as facts. The trustees also ripped the Freeh Report for its "flawed methodology & conclusions," as well as Louis Freeh himself, for not disclosing a personal conflict of interest.

The internal review, the preliminary contents of which were posted on Big Trial last June, had been the subject of a nine-month cover up by the majority of the board of trustees at Penn State, led by PSU board president Mark Dambly. He's a shady character who in his younger days got mixed up in a multimillion dollar cocaine ring but beat the rap by wearing a wire. Under Dambly's "leadership," the Penn State trustees have been ardently stonewalling, refusing to release the final version of the internal review of the Freeh Report, so they can continue to cover up their own corruption and failures.

"It's a document Penn State doesn't want you to see,"the WJAC anchorman told his audience before introducing Sinderson. "Penn State has kept it under wraps," Sinderson agreed. Then, to officially end the cover up, WJAC-TV promptly posted the entire 113-page report online.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Inky Staffers Declare No Confidence In Publisher

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

The union that represents nearly 400 employees at The Philadelphia Inquirer, including editors, reporters, photographers and sales reps, says it has no confidence in the leadership of Publisher Terry Egger.

In a letter sent today by email and certified mail, the executive board of the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia accused Egger of "insincere dealing and flat-out lying," as well as "continued indifference to the economic pain of our membership."

"Egger has, quite simply, lost the confidence of our members," the executive board wrote the publisher and board members of Philadelphia Media Network, the parent company of the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com. "We are hurting, and we are angry."

Egger, who last November, was named Editor & Publisher's Publisher of the year, did not respond to a request for comment. At the Inquirer, where newsroom employees have gone without a raise for more than a decade, they're also smarting over the company's decision four years ago to stop making contributions to the NewsGuild's pension fund.

Note to Egger: expect some job actions and nasty billboards to follow.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Big Trial Explains The Scandal Behind The Scandal At Penn State

in less than 10 minutes on the Morning Show with Bill and Joel. [Not Billy Joel, but the morning guys at WDUN 550 AM and 102.9 FM, on North Georgia NewsTalk].

The travesty at Penn State begins with a headline crime about a boy getting raped in the showers that turns out to be a work of fiction.

Then, the investigations at Penn State are tainted by willful prosecutorial misconduct and the incompetence of the Freeh Report.

It's a travesty enabled by media-induced hysteria and a board of trustees that breached their fiduciary duties by handing out $118 million to 36 alleged victims without asking any questions. Such as, excuse me Sir, but do you have a criminal record? Any evidence of any kind? And why can't you ever tell the same story twice?

Here's a link to the radio spot that explains it all in less than ten minutes.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Large And In Charge: Brian Tierney Returns To The Inky

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

At The Philadelphia Inquirer last month, people were startled to see former publisher Brian Tierney swaggering around the place again, still acting like a big shot.

It's the same old Brian, they say. Big and bearded; large and in charge. But not everybody's happy about it.

"He's the guy who bankrupted the company," complained Bill Ross, executive director of the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia. "Why would they want him around?"

Inquirer Publisher and Chief Executive Terrance C.Z. "Terry" Egger, who last November, was named Editor & Publisher's Publisher of the year, had an answer.

"All I can tell you is that a few years back the late [H.F.] "Gerry" Lenfest asked Mr. Tierney to join the Board [of Directors] and he accepted," Egger wrote in an email.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Amazon Censors Ex-Felon In Fumo Case

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Does a convicted felon have the right to post a book review about a case he was involved in?

Or, after that convicted felon has paid his debt to society, does he also forfeit his right to freedom of speech?

According to Amazon.com, the answers are no [on the right to post a book review] and yes [on whether he has to give up his right to free speech.]

Last week, Leonard P. Luchko, a former computer technician for former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo, wanted to post a review of my book on the notorious, long-running Fumo case, Target: The Senator, A Story About Power And Abuse Of Power.

Here's what Luchko wanted to say. Under the headline, "Our Government at its Worst!" Luchko wrote:

 

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