Fired Philly homicide prosecutor pleads guilty, avoids jail

Posted: February 23, 2014

LYNN NICHOLS, who spent 22 years with the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and became assistant chief of the Homicide Unit, yesterday pleaded guilty to criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, in connection with a plot to get revenge against a former boyfriend.

Under a negotiated guilty plea, Municipal Judge James DeLeon sentenced Nichols, 47, to a year of nonreporting probation and ordered her to pay $884 in restitution to a woman she victimized.

Nichols was fired in October and charged with obstruction of justice, filing a false report and criminal mischief after police uncovered her plot.

Her troubles began in October 2012 when she and the boyfriend were dating and - to help him - she used her influence as a prosecutor to have a reported stolen pickup truck removed from the National Crime Information Center database, according to the state Attorney General's Office, which prosecuted the case.

Last August, after Nichols and the man had broken up, she contacted Nicole Chandler, 44, the truck's owner, a former girlfriend of the same man.

Nichols told Chandler that she knew where the truck was, but that to get it back Chandler would have to report it had been stolen that day, Senior Deputy Attorney General Susan DiGiacomo told DeLeon.

Chandler was confused because she had reported the truck stolen in 2011, and had no knowledge that it had been removed from stolen status in October 2012.

Chandler initially followed Nichols' advice and told police officers that her truck had been stolen that day, as Nichols stood next to her posing as her sister, DiGiacomo said in court.

But when police located the truck - with infomation provided by Nichols - they realized it could not have been stolen that day due to its condition. Chandler then told police the truth.

Nichols' attorney, Brian McMonagle, said she did not want to speak with reporters.

"This case is a tragedy," McMonagle said. "It's a situation where a wonderful person allowed her heart to trust somebody who wasn't worthy of her trust and caused her to make a bad choice in an otherwise exemplary life."

Chandler, who was awarded $884 - the amount she spent in towing fees to retrieve her truck - blasted Nichols, whom she did not know prior to the stolen-truck scheme.

"I just think Ms. Nichols needs to improve herself as a person, and I think she needs to stop lying, stop being deceitful, stop being arrogant," Chandler said, as tears ran down her cheeks.

"The little power that she thought she had is nonexistent, as it should have been."

On Twitter: @MensahDean

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