Casey Attacks Rendell Over His Record As D.a.

Posted: March 28, 1986

The Democratic campaign for governor turned nasty yesterday as Robert P.

Casey accused Edward G. Rendell, his main rival for the nomination, of running a "corrupt Philadelphia shell game" designed to confuse the voters.

Casey's message was aimed at voters in western Pennsylvania, which is the site of the most intense campaigning by both candidates.

At a news conference in Pittsburgh, Casey made repeated references to the dispute Rendell got embroiled in last year over 96 parking tickets he received while serving as Philadelphia's district attorney.

Casey also questioned Rendell's conduct in a murder case involving the nephew of an organized-crime figure, saying he made a "dirty deal" to get the convicted man, Salvatore Chimenti, a lighter sentence.

Casey said he was making the charges only in response to "smears and attacks" Rendell had made about him. Since last week, Rendell has been running in Pittsburgh a television commercial that criticizes Casey and his law firm for working for utilities.

Rendell also has been running ads about his record as district attorney. Yesterday Casey offered his own - sharply different - view of the Rendell record.

Last year, Rendell got into hot water over the parking tickets, which he had accumulated while serving as district attorney. Rendell argued he got the 96 tickets while performing official duties and was exempt, under city guidelines, from having to pay them.

After a review of the case by the city solicitor's office, Rendell paid the Parking Authority $915 for 26 tickets, after it was judged that those citations were issued while the district attorney was not on city business.

At the news conference yesterday, Casey said he had been busy in recent weeks preparing his plan to revive Pennsylvania's economy. "Unfortunately,"

Casey added, "the only thing Ed Rendell has been putting together is enough parking tickets to paper his own house."

Casey said he had been spending his time "putting forth a vigorous vision for the future." Then, he added: "All Ed has been interested in is moving his corrupt Philadelphia shell game out west."

However, Casey said, the dispute over the tickets would look like a "Boy Scout camp-out" compared to the Chimenti case.

Casey described Chimenti as a "gangland killer" whom Rendell had helped ''shop for a lenient judge" to help set aside his first-degree murder conviction for a lesser charge.

"He would have gotten away with this dirty deal except for the courage of the original trial judge, who filed an appeal directly with the Supreme Court," Casey said.

Casey was referring to a case involving Chimenti, 33, a nephew of crime figure Harry Riccobene, who was convicted of first-degree murder in 1983 in the shooting death of a friend during an argument.

The district attorney's office agreed to try to get that conviction overturned and changed to a lesser charge in exchange for cooperation by Chimenti and several friends who testified at his trial that Chimenti was not at the scene of the crime.

Later, those witnesses told the district attorney's office that they were instructed to lie under oath by Chimenti's lawyer. Rendell later decided not to prosecute the lawyer.

Judge Lisa Richette, who presided over the first trial, objected to attempts to get Chimenti's verdict changed to a lesser charge and filed a suit asking the state Supreme Court to review the case.

At his news conference, Casey did not outline the particulars of the case. However, he did quote one of the Supreme Court justices who remarked during the Chimenti hearing that he was keeping an open mind about whether Rendell might have had a "corrupt motive," as Casey put it, in seeking to change the verdict.

Maurice Murphy, Rendell's press secretary, called Casey's charges ''absurd."

"It's obviously just a desperate Bob Casey trying to buy time, because he

hasn't yet talked about one issue in this campaign," Murphy said.

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