Ex-con recalls 2009 run-in with 2 indicted cops

Posted: August 01, 2014

IN AN UNMARKED four-door Ford, the three cops drove John Goodwin in silence to a secluded spot under Interstate 95 behind the Port Richmond Village Shopping Center.

It was an early evening in August 2009. The sun had not yet set, and traffic rumbled overhead.

Officers Thomas Liciardello and Brian Reynolds and a third officer ordered Goodwin out of the car and pinned him against a concrete pillar.

Or so remembers Goodwin.

Liciardello did most of the talking, Goodwin recalled.

" 'We know about the money,' " Goodwin said Liciardello told him. " 'Tell us where you buried it.' "

" 'There is no money. You're 10 years too late,' " Goodwin responded.

At 5 feet 10, Goodwin felt as if he towered over Liciardello.

"He had to reach up. I was looking down at him. He whacked me across the face, thinking I was being smart," Goodwin, 57, told the Daily News this week. "He was talking to me like I'm in the 1990s when I was the money man."

In the 1970s, the Kensington native was a ringleader of the K&A Burglars, robbing dozens of mansions across the country. As security systems grew more sophisticated, Goodwin morphed into a methamphetamine dealer.

He was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison in 1999, but said he served about eight. He now works as a laborer.

Veteran narcotics officers Liciardello, Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman and John Speiser were arrested Wednesday in a sweeping federal corruption probe.

The cops allegedly targeted people who were a lot like Goodwin - former or current drug dealers with rap sheets, the type they figured wouldn't be believed.

For years, they were right. Goodwin filed a complaint with the police Internal Affairs Bureau, but his allegations were deemed unfounded in June 2011.

In fact, Internal Affairs received a steady stream of complaints against the officers, mostly for fabricated evidence, theft and physical abuse, but almost all were unsubstantiated.

It wasn't until earlier this year that an investigator with the FBI-led task force visited Goodwin and wanted him to tell his story.

Goodwin's alleged encounter with Liciardello and Reynolds was a Philly-stamped, wait-till-you-hear-this-one kind of tale: There he was, a burglar-turned-meth-trafficker who had done his share of dirt in a rough-and-tumble town and who was starting up recovery houses for people struggling with addiction.

Then, bam! - three crooked cops force him into a car for a ride to nowhere, convinced he had wads of hundreds buried beneath the earth, to hear Goodwin tell it.

Liciardello was driving. No one said a word.

"I had a sense that he thought his car was bugged," Goodwin said of Liciardello. "It reminded me of the way I used to operate. You never talk in a car or in a room. You always walk and talk."

When they stood under I-95, Liciardello bullied him, bragging that " 'the FBI are Girl Scouts compared to me,' " Goodwin said.

A few weeks later, Liciardello and fellow squad members raided two of Goodwin's Kensington homes, stealing about $9,000 - rent and repair money for his recovery homes - and planting a small amount of meth, he alleged.

Something else was missing: a full bottle of Viagra that he'd left on a desk.

"I kidded with a couple of friends that we gotta interview their wives to figure out which one was having trouble in bed and that's how we'll figure out who stole my Viagra," Goodwin said with a chuckle.

Judge Peter F. Rogers dismissed the case. "I had a courageous judge. . . . He saved my life," Goodwin said.

The same day the cops raided Goodwin's two homes, they hit the Northeast Philadelphia home of Theodore Carobine, who had no criminal history.

"Teddy wasn't selling drugs," Goodwin said.

Carobine, then 50, was doing plumbing work on one of Goodwin's recovery homes, he said.

Liciardello, Reynolds and Spicer ordered Carobine to open a safe containing about $10,000, which Carobine was saving for his daughter's tuition, the federal indictment says.

On the property receipt, Liciardello recorded finding only about $8,000 in the safe, allegedly stealing about $2,000. The cops also stole gun accessories, according to the indictment.

Carobine was jailed for five weeks until he could raise bail. The case later was dismissed.

Goodwin says he doesn't understand why the cops' supervisors didn't do anything to stop them.

Goodwin last saw Liciardello in November 2012. He was driving a rusty, sky-blue 1988 Dodge when Liciardello pulled him over and threatened to plant a gun on him, he said.

" 'You're driving this old clunker and that may fool the FBI, but I know you have money,' " Goodwin recalled Liciardello telling him.

The next month, District Attorney Seth Williams notified Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey that he could no longer call the officers to testify because of credibility concerns.

Ramsey removed them - along with Lt. Robert Otto, who has not been charged with a crime - from the Narcotics Field Unit.

"Seth Williams saved the day, because he had enough guts to stand up to these thugs with a badge," Goodwin said.

"He's my hero."

On Twitter: @wendyruderman

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