Philly man's claims of child-sex-abuse cover-up go national

Greg Bucceroni (left) is interviewed by Dr. Phil for Friday's show, on which Bucceroni claims to have been victimized by Jerry Sandusky.
Greg Bucceroni (left) is interviewed by Dr. Phil for Friday's show, on which Bucceroni claims to have been victimized by Jerry Sandusky. (CBS TELEVISION DISTRIBUTION / PETESKI PRODUCTIONS)
Posted: September 28, 2012

GREG Bucceroni's story is finally going national. At least, the latest version.

The anticrime activist made headlines over the summer in the New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, a Washington Post blog and Britain's The Daily Mail with a sordid tale about his time as a "child prostitute" caught in a web of perverts that included former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and the late Philadelphia businessman Ed "Uncle Eddie" Savitz.

Friday, he's scheduled to appear on the "Dr. Phil" show.

"This is a complicated onion with many layers," Bucceroni, 48, explained by phone Tuesday from a Los Angeles hotel room, saying he was gazing up at the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee. "But the truth is never easy."

Is it really the truth, though? Law-enforcement officials, a close relative and others familiar with Bucceroni's claims say that his story is baloney, that he's just playing the media, and that Dr. Phil is only the latest victim.

Last year, Bucceroni, a school police officer at a Philadelphia charter school, began pitching a story to any reporter who would listen - about being sexually abused and exploited more than 250 times in the late 1970s and early '80s by Savitz, who died of AIDS in 1993 before going on trial on child-molestation charges.

That story isn't far-fetched: Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham has said Savitz collected 3,500 kiddie-porn photos, boys' underwear smeared with feces and boys' dirty socks. His victims could have numbered in the hundreds.

Bucceroni, the onetime head of the local Guardian Angels chapter, said in November that he was prompted to speak out about his abuse after seeing coverage of the Sandusky case. At the time, he never mentioned any personal involvement with Sandusky or his Second Mile charity for underprivileged youth.

In recent weeks, however, Bucceroni's tale evolved dramatically. He began aggressively seeking a national audience by describing himself to reporters on Twitter as "one of the Sandusky victims."

He now claims to be at the center of a conspiracy and "political coverup" involving Sandusky, the Second Mile, Philly police brass, murdered cop Daniel Faulkner, the state Attorney General's Office, Ed Rendell, the Union League, the Mafia, Savitz, Abraham, a deceased Brooklyn high school football coach, former Penn professor Scott Ward and former Daily News sports columnist Bill Conlin.

Bucceroni was behind a round of news stories and blog postings last week speculating about a Savitz-Sandusky connection. He claims that staffers from the Oprah Winfrey Network and HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" have reached out to him.

Law-enforcement sources say there is no evidence supporting a Savitz-Sandusky link. But Bucceroni is ready for his close-up on national TV, anyway.

"Jerry Sandusky started rubbing on my shoulder and touching me," Bucceroni says in an "exclusive" interview on the "Dr. Phil" show on CBS.

"Every parent should hear his story," Dr. Phil says in a promo on the show's website.

Rendell: 'He's crackers'

Bucceroni, whose father was a Philly cop, has been quoted in dozens of local news stories over the years.

But, until recently, he never spoke of being part of a "tri-state pedophile ring" between 1977 and 1980. He now says that Savitz took him to have sex with Sandusky at Second Mile events but that "due to time constraints" Sandusky was not able to have sex with him. So Phil Foglietta, the late coach at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, paid $200 to have sex with him in Philadelphia.

Bucceroni emailed his allegations regarding Foglietta to Poly Prep officials last week, and the New York Daily News reported it with a "POLY PREP SHOCKER" headline. School headmaster David Harman did not respond to requests for comment. The school is being sued by former students who say Foglietta assaulted them.

Asked why he hadn't previously mentioned Foglietta, Bucceroni said he only recently realized that Foglietta was one of his abusers.

"I didn't know his name; I only knew Foglietta as 'Coach Phil,' " Bucceroni said. "I referred to him as the fat slob. It turns out the fat slob's last name is Foglietta."

Bucceroni claims that Sandusky, Savitz and others would swap photos of naked children "like baseball cards." He also claims that Ward, the former Wharton professor now in prison for transporting child pornography, raped him twice in 1978.

Conlin retired last year amid allegations that he molested four children in the 1970s. His attorney, George Bochetto, did not return a message seeking comment on Bucceroni's claims. Conlin has never been charged with a crime.

These only scratch the surface of Bucceroni's latest allegations. None of it checks out.

Bucceroni says he told Rendell about Savitz's abuse when Rendell was D.A. in the late '70s or early '80s. Rendell said Bucceroni is lying.

"That guy is completely crazy. I don't know anything about what he's talking about, and none of it's true," Rendell said. "The guy is just crackers."

Bucceroni says that he contacted senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan, who prosecuted the Sandusky case, in July and that McGettigan was "rude and obnoxious" and tried to talk him into giving false testimony.

"That's an absolute lie," McGettigan said. He said he doesn't know Bucceroni and doesn't recall ever speaking with him.

"The story keeps evolving and changing," said Sara Ganim, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Patriot-News reporter who broke the Sandusky story. Ganim said Bucceroni contacted her over the summer with new allegations, but couldn't provide details. Bucceroni has since been harassing her by email and with vulgar tweets, Ganim said.

"I asked him for the names of other guys in the pedophile ring, and he said he could only remember first names," Ganim said. "Now he can remember all these famous pedophiles?"

Ralph Cipriano, a former Inquirer reporter who interviewed Bucceroni for his book The Hit Man, about Philly mobster John Veasey, said he considered Bucceroni to be "spectacularly unreliable" and cut him from the book because "his facts did not seem to be reality-based."

A federal law-enforcement source familiar with Bucceroni said he is not considered credible.

"He runs around grabbing headlines," said a close relative. "That's what I think this is. Somebody needs to out him. It's not fair to the real victims."

The relative said that Bucceroni's "family is beside itself."

Did he save 'Goodfellas'?

Bucceroni claims to have been a junior mob associate who was supposed to carry out a hit on Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1981, when Bucceroni was 17.

He said that Officer Daniel Faulkner was aware of the plot and was supposed to be waiting around the corner after Bucceroni shot Abu-Jamal so he could be the first on the scene. But Bucceroni said the timing wasn't right and he decided against the hit on Abu-Jamal.

Weeks later, "Mumia, ironically, whacked Faulkner," Bucceroni said.

He also claims to have been an associate of Jimmy Burke and Henry Hill, the mobsters depicted by Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta in the movie "Goodfellas." Bucceroni says he was supposed to have been part of a hit on Hill, but was talked out of it. If he had participated in the hit, the movie never would have been made, he wrote in a June article for The Public Record website, headlined "HOW I SAVED A MOVIE: Goodfellas' Henry Hill's Philly Connection."

"There but for the grace of God, I would have been a mob victim instead of the good-citizen crime-fighter I am today," Bucceroni wrote.

Veasey, who did 11 years in prison after admitting his involvement in two mob murders, called Bucceroni a "psychopath."

"You want me to believe the New York Mafia came down here to find a kid whose dad is a cop to have him whack Henry Hill? The s---'s funny when you think about it," said Veasey.

Bucceroni gets angry when people cross him or don't believe his stories.

He calls Abraham and Ganim derogatory names. He said that if he sees Veasey on the street, he's going to "get a hammer and bash him in the head." Last month, he told the sports website Crossing Broad that he once stalked Rendell "like a serial killer" and considered "putting a f------ bullet in his head."

Bucceroni says he is dealing with his anger issues through counseling at Woman Organized Against Rape. Jill Maier, WOAR's director of counseling services, believes his stories and said it's not surprising that he would recall old memories gradually, rather than all at once.

"I know a lot of people don't find Greg very credible, but he's a very passionate man who really is trying to give a voice to victims of sexual assault," Maier said. "I think he's really quite brave."

- Staff writers Stephanie Farr, Jason Nark, Chris Brennan and Michael Hinkelman contributed to this report.


Contact William Bender at benderw@phillynews.com or 215-854-5255. Follow him on Twitter @wbender99.

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