Thursday, May 10, 2018

Progressive D.A. Larry K. Loses It With Former Prosecutor

Philadelphia Inquirer/Jessica Griffin
By Ralph Cipriano

On the 18th floor of the D.A.'s office, Richard Sax, a retired homicide prosecutor, was talking behind closed doors with Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington.

On Wednesday afternoon, Blessington had summoned Sax to his office to seek his help in fighting the appeal of a third-degree murder conviction. A jury in 2013 found Steven Miller, 22, guilty of shooting to death Maurice Kimble, an unarmed 24-year-old man, outside a restaurant at the Piazza in Northern Liberties, in front of numerous witnesses. Sax, the original prosecutor in the case, had volunteered to testify on behalf of the Commonwealth's efforts to keep Miller in jail. But not everybody was on board with Sax's attempts to help out.

Just minutes into their discussion, Blessington and Sax were startled by a loud banging on the door. Before ADA Blessingon could even say "Come in," a red-faced District Attorney Larry Krasner barged inside, accompanied by at least four armed members of the D.A.'s security detail, with more on the way.

"He lost it," Sax said about the D.A. "He was spitting fire. He was shaking . . . He was pounding on the door like a storm trooper. He brought his entire posse."

"I was only trying to help," Sax said. But instead, he said, he found himself locked in a face-to-face confrontation with a "mean-spirited" Larry Krasner.

One of Krasner's armed security officers had "a pair of handcuffs hanging in front of his belt," Sax recalled. "I honestly did not know what to expect. It was intimidating. I thought I was going to leave in cuffs."

According to Sax's account of the confrontation, it was Krasner who spoke first.

"Mr. Sax," the D.A. said.

"Mr. Krasner," Sax said he replied.

The two men aren't exactly pals. Sax was the leader of a posse of veteran prosecutors who had publicly proclaimed that Krasner, a career defense lawyer and civil libertarian who had sued the city police department 75 times, would be a disaster if elected as district attorney.

Shortly after he took office, after Krasner fired 31 career prosecutors, Sax told reporters that the new D.A.'s actions were "personal and vindictive," and that the D.A. had targeted prosecutors who had either tangled in court with Krasner in when he was a defense lawyer, or had feuded with his wife, Judge Lisa Rau.

Krasner dismissed the fallout over the firings as the "normal growing pains" of an office in transition. And on national radio, Krasner charged that Sax was a member of an old regime that had a "win at all costs" mentality, and was known for targeting people of color.

That upset Sax, who responded on Facebook that many of the crime victims he had stood up for as a prosecutor had also been people of color. Sax has also railed on his Facebook page about how Krasner was "destroying" the D.A.'s office, and that it "may take 10-20 years to undo the damage  from his personal, vindictive, counterproductive personnel purge of many of the Best & Brightest & most dedicated" former prosecutors. Sax also dubbed the D.A.'s office the "District Expungement Office," because of what he said was an unwillingness to prosecute criminals.

But that was politics. In person, Sax, despite having his right shoulder in a sling from an operation late last week on a rotator cuff, painfully extended his right hand in an offer of peace to the new D.A.

But Progressive Larry Krasner wasn't willing to shake hands, Sax said. Instead, he acted like he only wanted to fight.

"What are you doing here?" Sax recalled Krasner barking at him.

"I tried to explain that I was invited here and asked to come here to prepare for my testimony," Sax said. But Krasner, according to Sax, wasn't listening.

"He immediately went on the attack," Sax said. "Are you subpoenaed to be here," he kept yelling at Sax. "Are you subpoenaed to be here, yes or no . . . Answer the question, yes or no!"

The D.A. then demanded to see a subpoena if Sax indeed had one.

"It was kind of bizarre," said Sax, a career prosecutor who spent 36 years working at the D.A.'s office, 30 of those years in homicide, before he retired last year.

"After 36 years in the office, every murder case I ever prosecuted was important to me," Sax said. "lt was my case then and it'll be my case till the day I die. There was really no need to give me a subpoena." Anything that ADA Blessington asked him to do to secure justice, Sax said, he was willing to do voluntarily. Including driving to the D.A.'s office against a doctor's orders, with one hand on the steering wheel, and paying $30 a day for parking in Center City.

But, "I never really had the opportunity to explain that to him," Sax said about the D.A., because Krasner kept screaming at him, demanding to know if he had a subpoena, and wanting to see it.

"Eventually, I said no, I didn't have a subpoena," Sax said. Krasner, Sax said, responded by "repeatedly and aggressively getting in my face" and demanding to know whether Sax had signed in at the front desk.

Sax didn't think he had to. According to his account, he had previously explained to two security officers at the front desk, both of whom he had known for years, that he had been summoned to the D.A.'s office by ADA Blessington. And that Sax would simply wait at the front desk until Blessington came down from his 18th floor office to get him.

Which is what happened, Sax said. The retired prosecutor said he tried to explain this to Krasner, but that Krasner kept cutting him off. The D.A. also cut off Blessington, who never speaks to reporters, every time he tried to say something, Sax said.

"Those were the only two lines of inquiry," Sax said. Did he have a subpoena, and did he sign in at the front desk. "This went on for five or seven minutes," Sax said, in the presence of five or six security officers. "I felt threatened and intimidated," Sax said. "I felt I was going to be arrested."

"His face was red," Sax said about Krasner. "At one point he was literally spitting his words out. All of a sudden, without further ado or explanation or apology, he turned 180 degrees and stormed back out the door. He left in a huff, without another word."

After Krasner left, Sax said he conferred for about an hour with Blessington, prepping for the appeal hearing.

In response, Ben Waxman, a spokesman for Krasner, called Sax's description of the incident "a totally inaccurate version of events. Larry did speak to Mr. Sax but only to ask him why he was in the building. The total interaction probably lasted 90 seconds."

No way, Sax said.

"Ben wasn't there, but Pat [Blessington] was, and so were five or six security people," Sax responded. "I was trying to do the right thing."

But Krasner, Sax said, "wouldn't let me talk. He didn't want to hear it. He just wanted to confront me and be incredibly arrogant and mean-spirited."

"He treated me like a criminal," Sax said.

But if he was a criminal, Sax was reminded, Krasner the veteran defense lawyer would have done his best to help him, and keep him out of jail.

Sax laughed, and corrected himself.

"He treated me like someone who's in law enforcement," Sax said. "And he [Krasner] has a real bias against law enforcement. When he was a defense lawyer, to him, every cop was a criminal and every prosecutor was a liar, trying to hide evidence."

In an email, rather than apologize for his boss's boorish behavior, Waxman stayed on the attack.

"Mr. Sax entered the District Attorney's Office without signing in, which is required of all non-employees," Waxman wrote. "He then falsely told two security officers that he was coming into the building because he had been 'subpoenaed.' This was untrue. Mr. Sax then tried to claim that he hadn't lied to the security officers. All of this was documented in a memo by the DAO security detail. Despite all of this, Mr. Sax was allowed to stay in the building because he was helping to prep a case for one of our ADAs."

As far as Sax was concerned, Waxman was playing semantics.

"I would have gladly signed in if anybody asked me to," Sax said. "If he [Krasner] wants to attack me, I understand, but we know what happened. When a D.A. in that office tells me that my appearance is required, I consider that a subpoena."

"If he [Krasner] wants to go back and forth on this, he knows what he did and why he did it."

Waxman, however, contended that the D.A. was concerned about security, especially when it came to critics like Sax.

"Last week, someone on Mr. Sax's personal Facebook page posted that Larry should be 'put down' like a rabid dog," Waxman wrote. "The DAO is a secure building and we expect all visitors to follow the rules designed to ensure the safety of our staff."

Sax conceded that someone had indeed posted a comment on his Facebook page, in response to one of his anti-Krasner posts, and that the commenter did compare the D.A. to a rabid dog."I immediately called him out on it," Sax said, and the offending comment was taken down.

On Thursday, Sax, again at ADA Blessington's request, showed up at the Criminal Justice Center, and waited out in the hallway to be called as a witness during the appeal hearing under the Post-Conviction Relief Act. Miller the convicted killer is currently serving a 23 1/2 to 47 year sentence.

Sax explained to a reporter that he was there to support the victim's relatives, who have showed up faithfully at every court appearance since Kimble was murdered.

"They're a wonderful family," Sax said. "Their loved one was unarmed and cut down in cold blood simply because he had the gall to talk to a girl who was there with the defendant. A significant part of the murder is on video. The Piazza was packed. He [Miller] did it in front of 22 to 45 witnesses."

But the day ended without Sax being called to testify. He'll have to come back next week when the appeal hearing is continued. Sax said he'll be there, to show his support for the victim's family, as well as ADA Blessington.

"I was trying to do the right thing," Sax repeated. But he can't say the same thing about the new D.A.

"He's supposed to be so smart," Sax said. If Krasner had taken "90 seconds" to investigate why Sax was at the D.A.'s office, Sax said, the D.A. could have spared himself a public embarrassment.

But when you're Progressive Larry Krasner, here to lead the revolution, you're always riding a white horse.

UPDATE: Friday morning on his Facebook page, Richard Sax posted this "Memo to Larry Krasner:"

"If you take retaliatory action [firing, demoting] against that decent-to-his-core, dedicated-to-his-last breath, hard working and very bright, very honest and wonderful soldier who painstakingly prepared every case to the last question for the last many decades . . . b/c of YOUR inexplicable, uncalled for, over-the-top personal nasty outburst, the world itself may not be watching, but OUR world, including everyone in your office, every police officer in this City and every reporter . . . will be watching. Please don't sink that low. He was Just Doing His Job. And very, very well. For the Citizens of this City. You know . . . your constituency."


  1. Move on. krasner is doing a wonderful job.

    1. Wtf are you talking about? You must be out of your mind.

    2. Must be a personal friend of that idiot because no sane person thinks he's doing a "wonderful job".

    3. What's your PPN# because the only person that could think that must have a rap sheet a mile long!

    4. Must have some cases pending and now you think they will be discharged. Hey that will probably happen now!

    5. only criminals think he is doing a wonderful job

  2. Krasner is a complete disgrace to our city of Philadelphia.

  3. Thank you, George Soros!

  4. Thank the citizens of Philadelphia who didn’t vote!

  5. The media made him to be a good guy only to see him turn into a machavillan type of person who trusts nobody. Time for him to be removed from the position and the practice of law.

  6. If this story is accurate, the DA seems a bit unhinged.

    Instead of yelling at Sax, he should have been yelling at the security guards if they violated protocol by letting Sax in the building without signing in.

  7. Anyone who responds in such haste, with such aggression, with nothing to trigger it - more often than not have very very deep emotional pain and something they can't handle inside. The only way they know how to deal with it is to act out in the most random situations, much like this, often repeating the same question(s) as Krasner did. My hypothesis would be that while he was elected as DA; there is some turmoil inside this guy for him to act that way. You can count on that!

  8. First of all,you know the security officers won't dare to disagree with Crazy Larry. They want to keep their cushy jobs,and as we all know,they're afraid to open their mouths lest the teat fall out !!

  9. The police officers and their worshippers who have posted hereon despise Larry Krasner because he intends to reduce police and prosecutorial misconduct, the type that often results in the innocent being convicted and politically connected guilty going free. I am not a criminal, liberal, nor nutcase, just an honest person who dislikes ALL felons, whether or not they wear tarnished badges or polyester suits. The fact that Krasner received 76% of the vote, despite relentless libel and slander by cops and their groupies during his campaign, is evidence that the vast majority of Philadelphia voters agree with me. Maybe there is hope for Philadelphia, after all.


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