Friday, October 30, 2015

Will Billy Doe Face A Final Cross-Examination?

By Ralph Cipriano

Next Friday, in Courtroom 480 at City Hall, they're scheduled to pick a jury in the civil case of Billy Doe vs. the Archdiocese of Philadelphia et al.

The case still bears that title even though in August, the archdiocese settled with Billy Doe for a undisclosed pile of cash. It's an unholy pact that should have prompted every Catholic in town to demand that their archbishop tell them how much.

There are still three defendants left in the civil case; three men who went to jail for sexually abusing the credibility-challenged former altar boy turned heroin addict and accused dealer: ex-priest Edward Avery, the late Father Charles Engelhardt, and former Catholic school teacher Bernard Shero.

In the case of Shero, Judge Rosalyn K. Robinson ruled this morning that she was granting the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment in part. "It is hereby ordered, adjudged and decreed," the judge wrote, that "defendant Shero is collaterally estopped from denying or disputing that he committed the acts of sodomy and sexual abuse alleged in plaintiff's complaint."

A similar motion in the case of Avery is expected to be granted as well. That means for defendants Shero and Avery, rather than be allowed to contest the alleged sexual abuse of Billy, the civil trial, scheduled to begin Nov. 9th, would just become a hearing on how much more in damages should be awarded the plaintiff, to compensate for his alleged pain and suffering.

But here's where it gets interesting. Judge Robinson said she'll be ruling on the motion for summary judgment next week in the case of the late Father Engelhardt. And since the jury in Engelhardt's criminal case reached no verdict on the most serious charge, a count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, the judge may allow the civil jury to decide what actually transpired between the priest and the altar boy.

"Our argument is that a civil jury should be allowed to decide what assault if any occurred," said Thomas R. Hurd, the lawyer defending the estate of the late priest.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

George Martorano And The Case That Changed The Philly Mob

Ted Simon and George Martorano
By George Anastasia

Earlier this month, George Martorano was released from a prison.

It was long overdue.

Martorano, 65, had spent 32 years in federal institutions. Jailed in 1983, he pleaded guilty a year later to drug dealing charges, admitting that he ran a multi-million dollar narcotics ring that dealt in cocaine, heroin and marijuana.  It was his first offense. Yet the judge -- the late John B. Hannum -- sentenced him to life.

On the face of it, it hardly seemed logical or fair. It was the maximum sentence. Martorano could have gone to trial, gotten convicted and would have faced no harsher punishment. Where was the benefit in pleading out? Usually that factors in to the sentencing process. You take a plea, you catch a break.

Conventional wisdom at the time was that Martorano -- nicknamed "Cowboy George" and the son of mobster Raymond "Long John" Martorano -- was looking at a 10-year max. If he got lucky, maybe less.

Instead, the judge dropped the hammer.

Why Hannum chose to go in that direction is part of a bigger, more complicated story that literally changed the face of the Philadelphia mob.  At least that's the position of aging mob informant Nicholas "Nicky Crow" Caramandi whose testimony in the late 1980s decimated the crime family he and Long John Martorano had once served.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Scarfo's Wife Sentenced To Probation

Pelullo and Scarfo
By George Anastasia

Mrs. Scarfo won't be going to jail.

After pleading guilty to a mortgage fraud charge that was a small part of her husband's multi-million dollar looting of a Texas company, Lisa Scarfo, 36, was sentenced today to two years probation and 200 hours of community service.

"Mrs. Scarfo, good luck. I hope you get your life back together," U.S. District Court Judge Robert Kugler said after imposing the sentence during a 10-minute hearing in federal court in Camden.

Kugler cited her "limited role" in the scam orchestrated by her husband, mobster Nicodemo S. Scarfo. But the judge added that he did not doubt that she knew what she was doing when she filed false statements in a mortgage application in 2008 that allow the couple to purchase a $715,000 home in Egg Harbor Township outside of Atlantic City.   

In a statement read by her attorney, Richard Sparaco, Lisa Scarfo apologized to the court. She said she had made a "serious mistake" that had "devastated her family" and she pleaded for leniency.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D'Aguanno, the lead prosecutor in the eight-year investigation, said the government did not oppose probation. Under sentencing guidelines, Mrs. Scarfo faced a maximum prison sentence of six months, according to the judge.

Her husband and his top associate, Salvatore Pelullo, were each sentenced to 30 years in prison in July after a jury convicted then of masterminding the behind-the-scenes takeover of FirstPlus Financial Group in 2007 and then systematically looting the company of $12 million.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Complaint Details "Petty & Childish" Feud Between D.A., Narcs

First Assistant D.A.: "I'm tired of their shit."
By Ralph Cipriano

An amended complaint filed in federal district court charges that the indictment of six Philadelphia narcotics officers was a "perverse retaliation" provoked by a "petty and childish" feud between the narcs and the district attorney's office.

"The Plaintiffs, mainly [Lt. Robert] Otto and [Officer Thomas] Liciardello, had been battling with the District Attorney's Office for more than a year over the issue of the proper handling of confidential informants, and, the system of proffers," lawyer Christopher D. Mannix wrote in a second amended complaint filed today.

"The District Attorney's Office's positions on these aspects was unprofessional and often petty and childish," Mannix wrote. "These disputes had nothing to do with the integrity of the Plaintiffs, and nothing to do with the charges eventually brought -- although the disputes later prompted the charges in what was a perverse retaliation against the Plaintiffs."

The defamation and false light suit was filed on behalf of six former narcotics officers and their supervisor against District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, and Mayor Michael A. Nutter. The suit seeks monetary and punitive damages for irresponsible "grandstanding" allegedly done by the three city officials.