Friday, December 11, 2020

Finally, An Alternative To 'Let-Em-Loose Larry;' Carlos Vega, Career Homicide Prosecutor, Announces He's Running For Philly D.A.

By Ralph Cipriano

Attention, long suffering citizens of Philadelphia: We finally have an alternative to our current district attorney who caters to criminals, and doesn't give a damn about crime victims.

He's Carlos Vega, 64, a career homicide prosecutor in the D.A.'s office who, over a 35-year career, tried nearly 450 homicide cases, and lost only 14.

Next Wednesday at 11 a.m., Vega will be holding a press conference outside the D.A.'s office at 3 South Penn Square to announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for district attorney.

Vega will be opposing incumbent D.A. Larry Krasner, the George Soros-financed radical whose alleged "reforms" of the criminal justice system have been a disaster for Philadelphia, as witnessed this year by a record murder rate, and a record number of shootings.

As a career homicide prosecutor, Vega said, he was in the courtroom every day, acting as the champion for murder victims "who are never heard, who have no voice."

"I am here to represent the victims," Vega said. "I've always been the voice for the victims." Watching the murder and shooting rates escalate to historic levels, Vega says, he decided as a career prosecutor, as well as a parent, that "I can't sit by and let this happen to my city."

Some 87% of this year's murder victims are black, Vega says, and 10 to 12% are Latino.

"Every morning" in Philadelphia, he says, "A mother is going to hear that her child has been shot or killed. Gauranteed, someone's going to die today. With 466 murders, that means someone died every day."

"I have a son, 17, and he is the color and the age group of that next victim," said Vega, who lives in South Philadelphia. "My daughter, 23, is the color and the age group of that next victim."

"As a parent, I don't want my child to be shot or killed. And I don't want the child of any one else's parent to be shot or killed."

Vega, who is Puerto Rican, was born in the barrio, Spanish Harlem in Manhattan, and was the first person in his family to go to college. He got a law degree from Boston College Law School, and then he was hired in 1982 as a prosecutor by former Philadelphia District Attorney Ed Rendell.

He's been here ever since.

“I am running because too many victims have been ignored and too many children are dying in our streets without any response from the District Attorney,” Vega told former Inquirer and Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky, who broke the story this morning on his blog about Vega running for D.A.

The timing is perfect. Yesterday, U.S. Attorney William McSwain held a press conference where he blasted D.A. Krasner as being responsible for the murder of a hero cop, Corporal James O'Connor.

It was Krasner who repeatedly let O'Connor's alleged killer, Hassan Elliott, out of jail. It was Krasner, McSwain said at his press conference, who was as guilty of O'Connor's murder as the drug dealer who pulled the trigger. And it was Krasner, McSwain said, who should step aside to allow the feds to prosecute the case.

Vega, who watched the press conference online, was amazed by McSwain's announcement. 

"In my entire career, I have never seen a U.S. Attorney take a case away from the district attorney's office where a police officer was killed in the line of duty," Vega said. "The D.A.'s office always had the competence, the commitment and the experience to seek justice for the family of a fallen police officer."

Vega is used to contending with Krasner in other forums.

In a notorious murder case that was the subject of a contentious 2016 trial that lasted nearly three weeks, Vega, as lead prosecutor, convicted Ibrahim Muhammed and Nalik Scott for the 2011 triple murder of a West Philadelphia bodega owner, his wife and sister.

The losing defense lawyers included former prosecutors Jack McMahon and Anthony Voci, and Larry Krasner. According to sources, Krasner, who represented Muhammed, never got over losing that case to Vega. 

In a 2018 interview, McMahon, Krasner's co-counsel, admitted as much in an interview with the Inquirer shortly after Krasner got elected D.A. 

The trial was "very, very personally contentious," McMahon told the newspaper. "I know it had an effect on me, so I can only assume it had an effect on Larry."

Here's how the Inquirer described Vega's final pitch to the jury in that 2016 murder trial:

In his closing argument Wednesday morning, Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega returned to the testimony at the heart of the prosecution's case: the words of Jessica Nunez and her sister Laura, who were working in the family's bodega when their parents, Porfirio and Juana Nunez, and aunt Lina Sanchez were killed on Sept. 6, 2011.

"They took my family," Jessica Nunez had testified, identifying Muhammed and Scott as the gunmen who burst into the Lorena Grocery at 52nd and Parrish streets. "In less than two minutes, I didn't have a family."

. . . Defense attorneys for Muhammed and Scott had argued that police, eager to make a break in the case, had arrested the wrong men - and that the Nunez sisters' identifications of them were mistaken, fueled by stress and fear.

Vega told the jury that the defendants' faces were "singed" into the sisters' minds.

"Have the courage those little girls had to stand up and say, 'You're guilty, and you're not going to get away with it,' " he told the panel . . .  
He called the Nunez sisters' identifications unshakable. "She is seeing death before her," Vega said. "It's that face she can't forget."

The defense moved for a mistrial at the end of the closing argument, arguing that Vega had appealed heavily to the jury's sympathy and tried to shift the burden of proof to the defense.

Common Pleas Court Judge Glenn Bronson denied the request, saying Vega had employed the same "oratorical flair" the defense had in its closings Tuesday.

The climax of the trial was described by Aubrey Whelan of the Inquirer:

As the forewoman read the verdict, the victims' friends and family closed their eyes and sighed. Next to them in the courtroom, the families of Muhammed and Scott sobbed. In the courthouse hallway, Scott's mother collapsed, screaming.

"I just want to hold my son," she cried.

Krasner and McMahon told the newspaper they were "shocked" by the verdict, and how quickly the jury came back after just an hour of deliberations to convict their clients.

Vega, however, told the newspaper he was "very happy and very relieved" by the verdict:

"I've been with these girls since 2012," he said of the Nunez sisters. "I've watched them grow up. I'm so happy that finally they got to tell their story."

In the months after the murders, more than five years ago, Jessica Nunez promised her family she would find the killers - and returned to work at the bodega, hoping to spot them.

"All I felt then was anger. All I kept seeing was the three bodies on the floor," she said. "Today, I felt only peace."

Fast forward to 2018. When Krasner was elected as district attorney, with $1.7 million of George Soros's money, the first thing he did when he took office was to fire 31 veteran prosecutors, many of whom had tangled previously with Krasner in court, as well as Krasner's wife, former Common Pleas Court Judge Lisa Rau.

One of those veteran prosecutors that Krasner fired was Carlos Vega, then 61. He responded by filing an age discrimination lawsuit against Krasner.

The lawsuit claimed that during his campaign, Krasner “made a series of public statements that reflected his strong bias against and stereotypical views of older prosecutors, and his unwavering preference and affinity for young prosecutors.” 

According to the lawsuit, Krasner “even declared publicly that if he were elected, he would fire older prosecutors and replace them with young prosecutors.”

Vega's lawsuit cited statements by Krasner, published in a May 16, 2017, article by the Intercept, in which he said: “There are other people who are going to be made to leave because you cannot bring about real change and leave people in place who are going to fight change every step of the way. The ones who will leave will tend to be my generation, people who started in this business 30 years ago, which means they’ll also tend to be white and male. That results in more openings, opportunities for greater diversity....”

Vega declined comment on his lawsuit. But if elected, he said, he pledged to restore the competence and the integrity of the district attorney office, which has fallen on hard times under Krasner.

While Vega has a career record as a homicide prosecutor of winning more than 95 percent of his cases, winning a trial of any kind is something that doesn't happen very often in the sad sack D.A.'s office, under Larry Krasner. Kasner replaced the veteran prosecutors he fired with 60 rookies fresh out of law school, 18 of whom promptly failed the bar exam

With an inexperienced and incompetent staff of young prosecutors, the D.A.'s office has lost a number of prominent cases, most notably the trial last year of Michael White, for the stabbing death of unarmed Sean Schellenger in Rittenhouse Square. Some contend, however, that the D.A.'s office intentionally lost the case. That was after Krasner twice downgraded the charges against White, with the last downgrade happening on the eve of trial, when it was sure to influence the jury. 

Big Trial has been chronicling the woeful prosecution by Krasner's office of gun crimes from just one month, July of 2019. Only 4 out of 231 defendants ever made it to trial, according to court records, and Krasner's office lost all four cases.

It's a sorry record that Vega hopes to reverse if elected D.A.

Besides getting the D.A.'s office winning cases again, with competent prosecutors, Vega also wants to change the priorities in the D.A.'s office, where the primary focus under Krasner is coddling and catering to criminals. 

"They need to once again have a  commitment to the victims and being their voice," Vega said about the D.A.'s office. Because when it comes to crime victims, especially the victims of murder, he said, "No one speaks for them."


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Paul. We've got to get rid of Krasner. Wish the FOP would just do the best thing for their members and get behind Vega. Rather than wait around for other candidates to announce, and then cut a deal.

      People are getting shot and dying because of Krasner's policies, including cops. Krasner is a menace to the pubic health!

  2. I wish Carlos Vega the best of luck in his campaign. ANYONE would do better than larry krasner and his scumbags-first attitude.

  3. The key for VEGA is for the Republicans to register as Democrats for the Primary and no other Democrats run. Ralph his announcement is going to put Councilwoman Sanchez in a Pickle. She now has to choose whether to support a Latino or keep her cozy friendship with Krasner whom she got her drinking buddy Officer Agnes Torres the cushy job of driving for Krasner despite having no Dignitary Protection experience. Going to be interesting. Go CARLOS!!!!

  4. The FOP needs to get behind VEGA now. The sooner the better. FYI to Jerry Rocks. When Vega wins the Primary you are toast. He already has your number and the shit u did as the Interim Chief!!! You and your few kissing the ring cronies heads will be spinning! By the way....How did u score on the LT test??? Lol. 6 is a good number we are hearing. Daddy Rocks can't save you!! Big Brother is watching daily!!

  5. Worked with Carlos Vega in East Detective Division in the early 1980's and he was a competent and dedicated assistant district attorney. He has a long and successful career of service to the citizens of Philadelphia. We need Carlos as our next District Attorney.

    Michael Skiendzielewski

  6. we had the ability to speak with Mr. Vega and after 37 years as a police officer, I will say that this man has exactly what Philadelphia needs, he fully understands the system and would hit the ground running to turn this crime wave around, and follow the law.


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