Lawyer's Indictment Jars Colleagues Romaine Phillips Was 'Going Places'

Posted: August 21, 1987

Romaine Phillips was considered a prominent criminal attorney who was going places.

At 6 feet 2 inches, Phillips presented a distinguished appearance with his beard and three-piece, pin-striped suits. He was bright, articulate and ambitious, highly respected by his colleagues as well as by judges.

That's why the news of his indictment yesterday on federal bribery and racketeering charges caught people by surprise as it raced through the

criminal justice community and the district attorney's office, where Phillips had worked for eight years.

"I'm sitting here in shock," said Assistant DA Roger King, who served as Phillips' mentor after he joined the DA's office Jan. 27, 1975. As a senior attorney, King said he had helped Phillips with trials and legal issues.

Phillips, 38, of Voorhees Township, N.J., grew up in the tough, working- class town of Chester, obtained a B.A. degree from Lincoln University, a law degree from Georgetown University and passed the Pennsylvania Bar in 1974 before joining the DA's office.

In 1977, Phillips went to work in the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, where he handled minor cases in District Court. Eight months later, he rejoined the district attorney's office here and served as an assistant DA in the felony unit, chief of the preliminary hearing unit and chief of the career criminal unit.

"Here's a guy with everything going for him," King said. "I'm mystified. He could have been anything he set out to be."

Just as King had been a mentor for Phillips, Phillips became a mentor for other attorneys, especially the few fellow black prosecutors, as he rose.

His longtime secretary, Dee Furst, reacted with disbelief when she learned of the indictment.

"He is the most honest, truthful, kind, gentlest person I know," Furst said. "He has done so many good things for so many people that he could not have possibly done that. I just don't believe it."

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