More extortion charges against now-ex-Philly cop

Former Philadelphia police Inspector Daniel Castro (right) with his attorney, William Brennan, after Castro pleaded not guilty to charges in November.
Former Philadelphia police Inspector Daniel Castro (right) with his attorney, William Brennan, after Castro pleaded not guilty to charges in November.
Posted: February 04, 2011

Federal prosecutors are turning up the heat on a former high-ranking Philadelphia police inspector charged last year in an extortion plot.

A federal grand jury yesterday filed new charges against Daniel Castro, alleging that the former head of the force's traffic division had been involved with two other men, William Wong and Alan Kats, in another extortion plot.

In early 2009, the charging papers said, Kats, 54, of Huntingdon Valley, gave a Philadelphia nightclub operator, identified as R.C., $20,000 to invest in a nightclub and later lent him $16,000 more.

That summer, the proposed nightclub hit financial shoals and never opened. R.C. later paid Kats $10,000 on his debt, leaving $26,000 still owed to Kats, the indictment said.

Kats, who was charged separately, allegedly demanded that R.C. repay the $26,000 debt and, when he didn't, authorities said that Kats turned to Castro and Wong to get the money back.

Castro, 47, who prosecutors said had already retained some muscle to recoup $90,000 he lost on a real-estate deal, allegedly told Wong and Kats, who were business associates, that he knew someone who could help them collect the debt.

The new charges said that during a phone call last Sept. 10, Castro instructed an FBI informant who had helped him retain a "collector" to contact Wong and offer his services.

After the call, Wong, of Center City, spoke with the informant and they agreed to meet the following week.

Wong and Kats allegedly met the informant and instructed him to set up a meeting with the collector, who was an FBI undercover agent posing as a debt collector from New York.

Prosecutors said Wong and Kats authorized the collector to use threatened or actual force to compel R.C. to repay the debt and accepted payments supposedly collected from R.C.

Castro allegedly accepted a $500 fee for referring the collector to Wong and Kats.

Prosecutors said he and Wong also referred the collector to a second job in Miami to collect a $1.5 million debt.

Castro, who has retired from the force, pleaded not guilty to the original charges and had a trial date of Feb. 16, which is now likely be continued. He is free on bail.

Kats and Wong are expected to surrender at a later date. Kats was charged by criminal information, a process that typically indicates a plea deal is in the works. Wong was charged in a superseding indictment with Castro.

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