Friday, February 5, 2016

The Roundup

A weekly tab on what's going on in the courts.

By Shealyn Kilroy
                                                                          (AP/Matt Rourke)

Chaka “Chip” Fattah Jr.’s sentencing to 5 years in prison for tax and bank fraud along with the ruling for Bill Cosby’s continuance of his sexual-assault charges were this week’s most talked about courtroom dramas. To read the release right out of the U.S. Attorney’s office about Chip’s sentencing, click here.

But while everyone was tuned in to the Cosby and Chip spectacles, there were some other stories worth noting in local courts. 
Eli the Horse
(Courtesy Stables)
Philadelphia District Attorney:

Last week’s roundup mentioned a scheduled trial appearance of retired Philly officer Walter Sasse, 77, who was charged with having sexual relations with a minor. On Jan 29., Sasse was convicted of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, aggravated indecent assault, statutory sexual assault, corruption of minor and other related offenses. A mental health evaluation and sexual offender assessment has been ordered. Sentencing is scheduled for May 6, according to the District Attorney’s office.

Before trial, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright ordered Sasse not to ride with females under the age of 18. However, Judge Bright told Sasse he was “permitted to ride his horse Eli from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sundays.”


U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania:

francisco acosta former reading city council president
                                                   (Reading Eagle/Harold Hoch)
Reading’s former City Council President Francisco Acosta, 40, was sentenced on Feb. 2. to two years in prison for conspiracy to commit bribery offenses to repeal an ethics law. Acosta pled guilty on Aug. 5, 2015 on information based on these charges. In a complicated scheme that took place before the May 19, 2015 primary election, “Public Official #1” gave Acosta an $1,800 “loan” to the campaign committee of Acosta’s ally, “Public Official #2”, which would be “forgiven” upon Acosta successfully orchestrating a repeal of Sections 1012 and 1006(H).  Both Sections 1012 and 1006(H) are anti-corruption statutes enacted in Reading to limit the influence of money on political candidates and public officials. 

After taking the bribe, Acosta tried to persuade others in  City Council to pass the repeal bill for the best interest of Reading, lied to the FBI about the matter, and then tried to withdraw himself from the conspiracy scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney. In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sanchez ordered a fine of $1,800, three years of supervised release, 200 hours of community service, and a $100 special assessment, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The arrest of a Cumberland County doctor, Joseph Thomas Acri, 58, who’s accused of prescribing extremely high doses OxyContin and Oxycodone to patients he’s never examined, was announced on Feb 2nd by the Attorney General’s office. Acri was allegedly using a prescription pad from Carlisle Regional Medical Center,  which he has had no affiliation to. Acri’s alleged fraudulent practices occurred between February 2011 to March 2014. Acri is charged with four counts of unlawful prescription of controlled substances and one count each of acquisition of a controlled substance by fraud, criminal conspiracy to acquire by fraud and failure to keep records of distribution of controlled substances. Bail is set at $10,000 unsecured, and Acri is scheduled for a preliminary hearing around Feb. 18, according to the Attorney General’s office

Shealyn Kilroy can be reached at