Guilty plea in stabbing of retired police officer

Posted: February 20, 2014

A Port Richmond man pleaded guilty Tuesday to stabbing and wounding a recently retired Philadelphia police officer after a night of drinking at a neighborhood bar.

Joseph Fitzgerald, 31, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and a weapons count in a deal with prosecutors in which he was immediately released from prison to start six years of reporting probation.

Fitzgerald was arrested in the Aug. 19, 2013, stabbing of George Orth, 56, who had retired five months earlier after 24 years with the Police Department. The attack happened inside Orth's home in the 3300 block of Salmon Street, where the two men ended up after meeting at a local bar.

According defense attorney Brad V. Shuttleworth, Orth invited Fitzgerald in for some shots of Sambucca liqueur and to talk about using Fitzgerald for construction work.

About 2 a.m., Fitzgerald stabbed Orth in the chest; Orth was released after being treated at Temple University Hospital.

At the time, Fitzgerald told 6ABC that Orth made a sexual overture. Shuttleworth said Fitzgerald apologized in court for his reaction.

Orth was not in court and Assistant District Attorney Damoun Delaviz was not immediately available for comment.

Fitzgerald, who has been held in prison on $400,000 bail since his arrest, was sentenced to 111/2 to 23 months in prison by Common Pleas Court Judge Roxanne P. Covington. Under the guilty plea agreement, the judge immediately paroled Fitzgerald so he could begin his probation.

The judge also ordered Fitzgerald to continue attending a court counseling program for people who have been charged with driving while drunk.

215-854-2985 @joeslobo

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