Contractor given apology calls Montco case 'nightmare'

Contractor Walter Logan, with his wife, Darlene, and attorney, Mark W. Tanner, talks to reporters about the case, the $1.65 million settlement, and the apology from Montco District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.
Contractor Walter Logan, with his wife, Darlene, and attorney, Mark W. Tanner, talks to reporters about the case, the $1.65 million settlement, and the apology from Montco District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. (AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 23, 2014

The Radnor Township contractor who received a $1.65 million settlement and a rare apology from Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman over unsubstantiated charges that he ripped off a Jenkintown church said Wednesday that he was glad to see the end of what he called a "five-year-long nightmare."

Walter Logan, 65, said he hoped to rebuild his construction business after his arrest on theft charges in 2009, which he said all but destroyed his reputation. Since then, he said, has lost out on several potentially lucrative contracts for projects across the country.

"There was a time I could make a phone call and people would answer, 'Walter, how are you doing?' " Logan said during a news conference at the Center City offices of his lawyer, Mark W. Tanner. "After this, I make phone calls, and people are either out of the office or don't pick up the phone."

His statements - his first since filing suit against Ferman and the county detective who led the investigation - came a day after his lawyers released the text of Ferman's apology.

"There is no credible evidence that Mr. Logan ever stole anything from Salem Baptist Church, and we retract any statements to that effect," it read.

Ferman, through an assistant prosecutor, declined to comment Wednesday, citing her status as a witness in a forthcoming civil trial between Logan and Salem Baptist Church of Jenkintown. Logan contends that the church used its connections to Montgomery County officials to press a baseless criminal case against him in hope of gaining leverage in a civil suit.

The contract dispute arose over his company's work on a $3.2 million family center on the church's Old York Road campus.

A federal judge in August found that a reasonable jury could conclude that Ferman and the detective, Mary Anders, mishandled Logan's prosecution. Evidence suggested that county detectives relied almost entirely on the church's legal team to build their case - going so far as to allow its lawyers to rewrite charging documents and dictate the timing of the arrest to benefit Salem financially, U.S. District Judge J. Curtis Joyner found.

Ferman's office withdrew the charges against Logan a year after his arrest, but that move came well after a civil arbiter ruled that it was actually Salem that owed Logan money. By then, the contractor said Wednesday, the damage had been done.

"We spent 40 years building a business - building a good character - and virtually in one day, that all changed," he said. "Today is the first day of the rebuilding."

Logan's civil case against Salem is set to be heard by a federal jury in September. The church contends it did nothing wrong.


jroebuck@phillynews.com

215-925-2649 @jeremyrroebuck

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