Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Verdi Not Guilty On All Counts

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

A jury deliberated for just a couple of hours today before unanimously acquitting Dominic Verdi on all the political corruption charges against him.

Verdi, the former deputy commissioner of the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections, had been accused in a seven-count federal indictment of conspiracy under the Hobbs Act to commit extortion and honest services fraud. But the case had all kinds of problems, which the trial judge, Berle M. Schiller, pointed out to the jury.

Verdi's problems began in 2006 when he sunk $20,000 into Chappy's Beer, Butts & Bets, a beer distributorship that was out of business by 2010. Verdi complicated the problem when the city's Inspector General asked him about it in 2007, and he denied having any ownership interest in Chappy's.

So Verdi was guilty of a conflict of interest, and lying about it. Not exactly exemplary conduct, but ethical violations. The feds, however, overreached by charging Verdi with criminal acts -- conspiracy to commit extortion and honest services fraud -- but failing to prove any of it.

When the verdict was announced, Verdi sat there stunned while his wife started crying.

"The truth finally came out," Verdi said outside the courthouse. "After six and a half years of being harassed, after six and a half years of my family being harassed, after six and a half years of my friends being harassed."

"To all my friends and family, thank you for standing behind me the way you did," Verdi said. "And to all the people out there who didn't believe me, karma's a bitch."

A big problem with the federal case was that the feds presented the jury with no proof of a money trail leading to Verdi's bank account, a point stressed in her closing statement by Susan Lin, Verdi's court-appointed defense lawyer.

The government's other problem was a stable of cooperating witnesses that included a convicted murderer, a former L&I inspector who pleaded guilty to using his official position to extort his elderly neighbor, and a husband and wife team of former night club owners who pleaded guilty to tax and welfare fraud and owed the feds as much as $1 million in back taxes, fines and penalties.

How can you trust these people, Lin argued to the jury. Every one of those cooperating witnesses, she argued, met the definition of reasonable doubt.

On top of that mess, the judge pointed out to the jury a couple of government witnesses that supposedly were involved in the extortion plot, but never showed up in the courtroom to corroborate the government's case. Even though the prosecutor kept referring to them as part of the allegations against Verdi.

Further damaging the prosecution efforts was Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Wolf. The bumbling prosecutor ran into her share of problems with the judge, who frequently criticized her lack of time management skills, as well as what the judge often decided were irrelevant questions.

The case has been hanging over Verdi for years. The alleged conspiracy involving Chappy's hit the media in 2008. Verdi resigned from L&I three years later under a cloud of suspicion. He was indicted in 2014.

Verdi was hung out to dry in the media. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran the story about the federal indictment and all the allegations against Verdi; so did the TV stations. But when Verdi's trial went down, only this blog and PhillyVoice.com were there to cover it.

In the Inquirer's defense, maybe they were down at the U.S. Attorney's office getting some inside dope on future criminal indictments, so they can hang some new victims in the public square.

Meanwhile, one of the old victims, Verdi, said he went broke paying for his legal expenses. He had to ask a judge to appoint a lawyer to defend him.

While he was under indictment, friends said, the feds repeatedly pressured Verdi to give them information he didn't have. Verdi's friends say the feds presented him with several proposed plea deals, but Verdi kept insisting that he didn't commit any crimes.

The breaking point for Verdi, friends say, was when the feds came to his house and made accusations in front of his children. That's when Verdi decided he had to fight it out in court.

Verdi took the witness stand in his own defense, always a risky move for a defendant in a criminal case. But Verdi told the judge that the prosecution presented so many untruths only he could explain to the jury what really happened.

Today, Verdi's big gamble paid off when he walked out of court a free man, after the judge shook his hand. The prosecutor, however, departed without saying anything.

Verdi's lawyer was pleased with the outcome of the trial.

"I'm very happy that Mr. Verdi and his family, who are truly good salt-of-the-earth people, can finally put all of this behind them," Susan Lin said.

"It was a just verdict."


  1. Thank the Lord , the truth prevails. A huge waste of the taxpayers money. I hope this man sews the crap out of the feds who invaded his home and traumatized his children. As for Ms Wolf, you tried to condemn an innocent man with your lies and lack of evidence. Imagine how Mr Verdi felt for the past several years thinking that he could get a max 140 years sentence if he were railroaded. How do you sleep at night ? Soon the justice system will learn how self serving and dishonest you are Ms Wolf, and your career will be over.

    1. Federal prosecutors sleep very well, why worry, they cant go to jail,be found guilty or lose their jobs or life savings.Its always smooth sailing and then they get a job as a defense attorney with a record for being a ruthless former federal prosecutor with a fabulous conviction record. I know what job I want in my next life, it's win win, even if you lose.

  2. Susan lin was my Attorney! Wow ! Glad you are Free Mr Verdi

  3. Susan Lin was my Attorney! Glad you're out of this mess! God bless Justice has been served!Mr Verdi

  4. Thanks to this website, Ms. Wolf has shown the public what she,as well as all federal prosecutors, do for a living. They ruin the lives of individuals trying to get to the next and bigger fish. Maybe just maybe if the INKY would highlight the horrors defendants have to live through, these nightmare trials would stop. Innocent people can go on with their lives instead of living in fear that they will go to jail for the rest of their days on the say so of people like Ms. Wolf.

    Ms. Wolf was a conspirator along with Tony Zworick, lying and hiding information to send innocents to jail at the Traffic Court trial. What they succeeded in doing was abolishing Traffic Court for a Republic Supreme Court Justice,as well a cheating the Commonwealth of millions of dollars in revenue each year.

    Try to imagine a representative of our government lying and distorting facts and not getting reprimanded and you will have described the life of a prosecutor. It not acceptable to lie, its not acceptable to trap citizens, its not acceptable to pit coworkers and family against one another.

    We all deserve better treatment from our government and the one local paper in town. I will be interested to see how the INKY spins this one, lets see, the jurors got it wrong, the times, the political atmosphere.
    What about the truth, the government is trying to convince the public that its "saving" its citizens from some horrible terrible scheme and that they would not be safe unless federal prosecutors send everyone to jail. First by whipping the readers into hysteria and fear.What we should be fearful of are prosecutors that have no accountability and no inclination to do the right thing.

    Traffic Court should have been handled by the Judicial Review Board already in place, NOT a federal trial handled by the likes of Ms. Wolf, Mrs. Zworick and Agent Blake.

    Not one of those Judges should have gone to jail, but thanks to federal prosecutor of the year Ms. Wolf, they did. I think its time for her to pull up stakes, pack her tent and hit the road. You have done so much damage Ms.Wolf, you are truly an embarrassment to you country, not because you lost but because you lie, you bend the truth to incriminate people. I am ashamed you represent my government.

    When do the taxpayers get back the millions you have spent on pointless federal trials ?

    1. The Inky has ignored this one. And when they get a story completely wrong, as in the archdiocese sex abuse prosecutions, and the rogue cops case, they ignore that as well

    2. Extremely true how malicious prosecutions go. I am not long released from a decade and a half long incarceration resulting from a'wrongful conviction' whereby a prosecutor intentionally buried my actual VALID Gun Permit status following a botched arrest after I defended myself against disgruntled family members having ties to my small income tax firm & bill pay center in 1999. Because the matter was family related and police failed to honor my prior complaint of a problem at the business, the prosecution, Gun Permit officials and the Trial Court figured it was OK to to hide 'crucial'evidence and deny me Due Process since a wedge between the family already existed. Of course while to bring the matter to light to Judicial Review Board while illegally detained in the PA DOC, I was subjected to additional orchestrated prosecutions & subsequent'wrongful convictions'inside of prison adding to what was already judicial bludgeoning by the PA Commonwealth. I am just seeing the light of day released in 2015 from the 1999 'miscarriage of justice'. I know exactly what it is like to be subjected to prosecutorial trampling. Finally, I was forced to defend myself Pro se'in one of the orchestrated prosecutions while serving the political imprisonment and only then did the malicious snowball effect 'convictions by fraud' stop. I ultimately left the DOC ruined by a rap sheet containing four felonies though entering the System with ZERO PRIORS in 1999.To add insult to injury, I was deemed or tagged a "parole violator" having never left custody of the Commonwealth since the family related botched arrest in 1999. Chewed up and spit out by the City of Philadelphia PA & its vicious machine prosecutor's office that 'hid'my actual valid Gun Permit Tracking #G-99433 and the crooked Judge that insisted that hostile witness Lt Corso from Gun Permits Division 'did not have to be cross-examined' at my one-sided Trial to establish my authorization to carry or lack thereof!

    3. Thank you for sharing your story. Maybe what we need are more people to share their dealings with the Justice Department to come forward. Those that have been accused of a crime they did not commit or crimes invented by the prosecution , know first hand what goes on. What we need to do is make the public aware of the extent to which the prosecution will go to get a conviction.

      This is 2016, not 1916, with the internet we should be able to let everyone know the horrors . This country professes to be on the cutting edge of human rights advocacy but everyday we witness atrocities at the hands of the Justice Department.

      Does anyone think people need to go to jail for the rest of their lives for an ethical violation, if one even did exist such as Traffic Court. Does it seem logical that defendants families are threatened by the same seekers of justice ? These outrages are assumed to be all in a days work for the prosecution, no one dares to question their tactics.

      We need judges that are former defense attorneys not former prosecutors. We also need to be able to speak without fear of retribution. The Justice Department in order to continue its strangle hold over citizens has made it impossible for an average citizen to make known the abuses, an offending JOD employee is really untouchable.
      The most disturbing part of the equation is that the media is not listening. Some publications are listening, some reporters see the injustice but not enough to make a difference.

      No reasonable person is suggesting that crimes do not exist or that everyday we need to be protected by the JOD, what we do not need are strong arm tactics and outright lies used to get bogus convictions.

  5. Congratulations Domenic!

  6. For the record verdi was a bully and used his position to bully other clubs and bars. He used the nuisance task force to destroy people's businesses . Verdi got the same treatment from the feds that other legitimate business got. Yes karma is a bitch.

    1. Back in 2000, I sat with bar owners who made that claim. They said they had been harassed out of business. In one notable case, Verdi stormed a former convent that the city suspected was being renovated without building permits.

      The new owners at the convent were a couple of lawyers who wouldn't back down, eventually taking their case to federal court. That raid eventually cost the city $35,000.


      But the feds did a sloppy job here, presenting a case filled with contradictions and allegations that weren't nailed down. As a newspaper story, the feds' case wouldn't have passed muster.

      They did a lousy job investigating this one, and missed one very obvious fact, such as that Verdi used to be L&I's integrity officer. That would have been something a prosecutor could have hammered him over when he was on the stand.

      This reminds me of the rogue cops case in terms of sloppiness and a reliance on cooperating witnesses who were criminals and seemed rehearsed. You can't overreach and that's what the feds are guilty of here.

      This is a story I wrote in 2000 for the sadly now-defunct City Paper. The allegations in it were more nailed down than the feds' case. But under the eye of the IG's office at City Hall, an investigation went nowhere:


    2. You must be someone who got shut down for not know the properly running your business, ur right karma is a bitch and Dominic is free because he is innocent...

    3. The point I am trying to make regarding Traffic Court is that, at most ,the concerns were ethical, it did not warrant a federal trial. Traffic Court had a lot of moving parts and has had a lot of players over the years. Lumping all the judges together was also wrong.

      If someone needed discipline for an ethical violation, that would have been more acceptable route for the Supreme Court to take,not the feds getting involved and attempting to send people to jail for the rest of their lives.

      Traffic Court was a set up. Too bad the INKY needed to get into the mix and color public opinion.

      What I don't understand is how Wolf, Zworick and Blake who committed crimes by lying to a grand jury to indict, lied at trial to incriminate, withheld evidence, cheated the Commonwealth of millions used for a catastrophic fund and created more distrust for politicians are allowed to walk free.

  7. Congratulazioni.domenico che, dio,ti,benedica,amico,mio,la,processione.dove,esce,rientra,........

  8. Congratulations my friend and kudos to Ralph for your article.

  9. Would anyone mind clarifying a point for me? Ralph mentions conflict of interest, but that does not seem to have been charged here at the federal level. I'm assuming since he was a city employee the fed conflict of interest does not apply. Does this prosecution and acquittal preclude a state prosecution for conflict of interest?

  10. He wasn't charged with a conflict of interest. Maybe we need a lawyer to weigh in on whether it would be a state issue. But I also wonder whether the statute of limitations may have lapsed.

  11. FEDS!!!! NEVER HAD A CASE!!!!!!

    1. They don't have to, they just need to say it happened for the public to believe it happened. No one would ever think that the attorneys that work for the government would lie and distort facts. That they would influence witness to testify against a defendant.

      People wonder what do the feds have to gain by accusing someone one a a crime ? A conviction, they gain by getting a conviction. Their stock raises considerably by convincing a jury that someone is guilty and must be sent to jail. The feds get 10 points for just being the feds.

      There are no set of rules ( that they follow) that propels them to tell the truth, or at best most are ignored. No one would question that a prosecutor would not work in the best interest of justice. In reality they work in their own best interest.

      Too bad there are not more Judges like Judge Berle M. Schiller, instead of being part of the prosecution, he seemed to be a ray of hope for a defendant. More defendants would have a chance at freedom and prosecutors would think twice about needless federal trials that torment defendants and their families.

  12. Ralph, how do we on convince rhe public rhe feds lie ?

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Extremely good question. I have a book coming out on the Fumo case that should wake people up about that. No matter what you think of Vince Fumo, nobody knows what really happened at that trial.

    I think we stick to the basics. Hold them accountable during trials like the ones covered on this blog. And hold the Inquirer accountable when they carry their water and cover for them, which is what they usually do, to an embarrassing degree.

    We often have an effect on the Inquirer here at our little guerrilla operation. They had to run a Dominic Verdi is not guilty story on their front page, after they completely slept through his trial. And they just ran a story this morning in their Clout column catching up on the twelfth juror mystery in the Chaka Fattah case. They even quoted me in the story. Amazing.

    On a national level, some excellent books have been written about the incredible power of prosecutors, and their ability to overreach. The best I've read are Three Felonies A Day by Harvey Silverglate and License to Lie by Sydney Powell.

    Silverglate's premise is that there are so many new laws passed by our overreaching federal government that the average citizen commits three felonies a day without knowing it.

    Powell's book is an old-fashioned screed by a trial lawyer who was so sickened by the conduct of prosecutors and judges that she gave up her practice. She is a fearless crusader.


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