August 1, 2014
THE CRIMINAL GANG was ruthless and relentless: kidnapping and beating up victims, stealing money and property, and dealing drugs. What set them apart from an ordinary criminal cabal was not their greediness. What set them apart was that they were police. In the latest black eye on the Philadelphia Police Department, a 42-page federal indictment released yesterday describes in chilling language a "criminal organization" whose six members organized for the purpose of "generating money for the members through crimes including robbery, extortion, kidnapping and drug dealing and concealing those activities from law enforcement scrutiny.
August 1, 2014 |
MAYBE YOU'RE tired of reading news stories about police corruption. Nobody would blame you. According to Mayor Nutter, 146 Philadelphia police officers have been fired for a variety of offenses since his administration took office in 2008. Among those on that ever-growing list, 88 have been arrested, and 48 have been convicted of crimes that have included murder, rape and extortion. Maybe you're disgusted by the bombshell that dropped earlier this week, when six veteran narcotics cops were hauled off to jail on a 26-count federal indictment.
July 29, 2014
LET'S TALK pension costs. And let's talk using corruption - arguably our most common public-sector commodity - to bring them down. I'm semi-serious. An overlooked benefit to paying taxes for public pensions in one of the nation's most corrupt states is that wrongdoing saves us money. Think about it. Many forfeit pensions after convicted of crimes under Pennsylvania Act 140 of 1978. Through a Right-to-Know request, I got numbers on some of our more high-profile perps in order to show the sorts of savings available.
July 25, 2014 |
AFTER TWO days of deliberations, a federal jury acquitted six former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges of corruption and fraud yesterday, debunking the government's claims of judicial dishonesty and ticket-fixing. In count after count, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel read "not guilty" from the verdict sheet to a packed courtroom. Sobs of relief echoed from the gallery from family and friends of former Traffic Court judges Michael Sullivan, Michael Lowry, Robert Mulgrew, Willie Singletary, Thomasine Tynes and Mark Bruno.
July 11, 2014 |
A FEDERAL JUDGE denied motions for acquittal for six former Traffic Court judges and a Chinatown businessman yesterday, on the eve of the defense presenting its case. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel ruled that sufficient evidence existed to support charges of conspiracy for all seven defendants. Prosecutors rested their case yesterday afternoon in the Philadelphia Traffic Court judges' months-long ticket-fixing trial. Lawyers for former judges Michael Sullivan, Robert Mulgrew, Michael Lowry, Mark Bruno, Willie Singletary and Thomasine Tynes and Chinatown businessman Robert Moy are expected to call character and other witnesses starting today.
June 20, 2014 |
DISTRICT ATTORNEY Seth Williams, who has criticized state Attorney General Kathleen Kane's decision to shut down a public corruption probe, yesterday handed the case to a local grand jury for further investigation. Williams said he has listened to or watched some of the audio and video secretly recorded by lobbyist Tyron Ali, allegedly capturing four state representatives and a former Traffic Court judge accepting money or gifts. Kane, responding in March to an Inquirer story about the Ali case, said Ali made 113 recordings from October 2010 to April 2012.
June 18, 2014 |
Called before a grand jury two years ago, Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Michael Lowry testified that when it came to his rulings, everyone was treated "pretty much the same. " On Monday, his lawyer set out to prove it. As the federal ticket-fixing trial of Lowry and five other former judges resumed after a weeklong break, attorney William DeStefano accused FBI agents of focusing their investigation too narrowly and ignoring evidence that backed Lowry's claims. Brandishing statistical analysis of a day in his client's courtroom, DeStefano argued that at least one case singled out by prosecutors as an example of special treatment was anything but. The ticket-holder ended up with the day's worst outcome - a bigger fine than anyone else that day, he said.
May 24, 2014 |
Willis W. Berry Jr.'s decision to run his real estate business out of his judicial office got him suspended from his Philadelphia judgeship in 2009, and in April, a real estate deal cost him his license to practice law. Now, those dealings could put him behind bars. On Thursday, state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced that her office had charged Berry with theft and conflict of interest for running the business from his judicial chambers for more than a decade. Berry, 71, surrendered to Philadelphia police Thursday morning and spent several hours behind bars before being released on his own recognizance by Magistrate Francis J. Rebstock.
May 22, 2014 |
In three area primary races Tuesday roiled by corruption allegations, two Democratic incumbents lost their party nominations, but a third easily turned back a challenge. One of the losers was State Rep. J.P. Miranda, charged by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office in January with using a "ghost" employee to funnel state money to his sister. In Miranda's North Philadelphia district, Leslie Acosta, daughter of former State Rep. Ralph Acosta, captured almost half the vote, well ahead of Miranda and two other candidates.
April 22, 2014 |
When Philadelphia was deep in the winter of 2011, State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown was in a far warmer place - the Waldorf Astoria's Naples Grande Beach Resort in Florida. Days after her return from the Sunshine State, Brown told a local lobbyist about the trip, a three-day event organized by the nonprofit Women in Government Foundation with drug company backing. That lobbyist was government informant Tyron B. Ali. He secretly recorded Brown as part of an undercover investigation run by the state Attorney General's Office.