Montco D.A. fires lead detective in church case

Posted: May 24, 2014

Days after her office completed a $1.6 million settlement to a contractor who had been falsely charged with theft, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has fired the lead detective in the case, county officials said Thursday.

Detective Mary Anders' ouster came nine months after a federal judge found that a jury might reasonably conclude she had "acted with reckless disregard for the truth" in building her case against Walter Logan, a Radnor Township man charged with stealing from a Jenkintown church.

Logan's lawsuit also named Ferman as a defendant. As part of the settlement agreement, Ferman formally apologized to him in a statement that said "there is no credible evidence Mr. Logan ever stole anything."

Anders, a 25-year veteran of the county's detective bureau, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Ferman's office declined to discuss Anders' termination, describing it as a personnel matter. Sources familiar with the decision who were not authorized to discuss it publicly said the district attorney's decision was directly tied to Anders' involvement with the Logan case.

Logan, 65, was charged in 2009 with stealing from Salem Baptist Church of Jenkintown, which had hired him to construct a $3.2 million family center on its Old York Road campus. Before his arrest, he had filed a civil suit in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court claiming the church had failed to pay him money he was owed for his work.

In a separate federal suit filed in 2010, Logan's lawyers contended the church used its connections to Montgomery County officials to press a baseless criminal case against him in hopes of gaining leverage in that earlier court battle.

And in an August decision clearing the federal case for trial, U.S. District Judge J. Curtis Joyner found the evidence suggested Anders had relied almost entirely on the church's legal team to build her case - going so far as to allow its lawyers to rewrite charging documents and dictate the timing of the arrest to benefit Salem financially.

Montgomery County prosecutors withdrew their case against Logan in 2010 - nearly a year after an independent arbitrator found that it was actually Salem that owed Logan money.

Ferman has declined to discuss her own involvement in the case, citing her status as a witness in the coming trial between Logan and Salem.


jroebuck@phillynews.com

215-925-2649

@jeremyrroebuck

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