Judge expected to rule today on bail for cop 'ringleader'

Posted: August 14, 2014

A FEDERAL JUDGE is expected to rule this afternoon on whether ex-narcotics cop Thomas Liciardello - whom the feds have called the "ringleader" of a rogue group of cops - should be granted bail.

U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno yesterday heard an hour and a half of arguments and testimony about Liciardello.

The government contends that Liciardello, 38, intimidated witnesses and alleged victims, and even threatened a lawyer. His attorney says he didn't intimidate anyone.

Liciardello and five other ex-narcotics cops were arrested two weeks ago on a 26-count indictment charging them with racketeering conspiracy, robbery and related offenses. They are accused of robbing suspected drug dealers, sometimes with violence.

Robreno on Thursday granted bail to four of the ex-cops, finding they do not pose a danger to the community. Yesterday, he granted bail to a fifth, Michael Spicer. All will be under house arrest.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek yesterday argued that Liciardello "clearly is the leader of the six defendants." He called an FBI special agent to testify about cases when Liciardello allegedly intimidated victims after the alleged crimes against them.

In 2007, after allegedly telling another cop to dangle a suspected dealer from his 18th-floor City Avenue balcony, prompting the dealer to give up the name of his New York supplier, Liciardello allegedly outed the dealer to the supplier.

When the supplier showed up outside the apartment, the cops arrested him and Liciardello allegedly told the supplier that the dealer was his "snitch."

In 2006, after Liciardello and other cops raided a man's Frankford home, then allegedly stole cash from him and held him against his will in an airport hotel for several days, Liciardello allegedly called and harassed the man daily until the man and his wife had their lawyer call Liciardello, telling him to stop the harassment.

The man and his wife have since moved out of Philadelphia.

Liciardello also allegedly threatened attorney Michael Pileggi, who has represented suspected drug dealers in civil suits against cops. According to the feds, Liciardello said to Pileggi, "You're still alive?" and said he would be present when the lawyer died.

Liciardello's attorney, Jeffrey Miller, contended the men whose homes were raided by the cops were drug dealers who decided to cooperate with the cops by "trading up" - helping the cops set up bigger dealers so they would not get arrested or would be charged with lesser crimes.

"It wasn't witness intimidation," Miller said. He also contended that police Internal Affairs found no basis to Pileggi's claims that he was threatened.

On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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