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Corruption

NEWS
June 18, 2014 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
May 24, 2014 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian and Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writers
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.
NEWS
May 22, 2014 | By Craig R. McCoy, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
April 22, 2014 | By Mark Fazlollah, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
NEWS
April 5, 2014
In continuing its disassembly of national campaign-finance restrictions, the U.S. Supreme Court is relying partly on the naive notion that the tendency of money to influence and corrupt politics has yet to be demonstrated. Striking down limits on how much a single donor may contribute to federal campaigns per election cycle, the court this week compounded its earlier unfettering of corporate and union spending. Asserting a First Amendment right to spend unlimited sums on political expression, the court's majority is undoing a long-standing precedent under which the threat of corruption was deemed sufficient to justify moderate political spending restraints.
NEWS
April 4, 2014
Stories of local officials using their offices for personal profit are as wearying as they are familiar. The latest concerns Dominic Verdi, a former deputy Licenses and Inspections commissioner who, according to a federal indictment, protected errant bars and strip clubs as long as they patronized the distributor he had a stake in, Chappy's Beer, Butts, and Bets. The story reinforces the public's worst fears of a City Hall in-crowd that works for itself with little concern for anyone else.
NEWS
March 2, 2014 | By Seth Zweifler, Inquirer Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA In 2012, Democrat Jose "J.P. " Miranda won 95 percent of the vote in an election that landed him a seat in the state House. Little more than a year later, he was arrested, along with his sister, on corruption charges. On Friday, in a marathon preliminary hearing that pitted the siblings against several former legislative assistants, Miranda's fall from grace continued. Municipal Court Judge David C. Shuter ruled that the case against Miranda and Michelle Wilson should proceed to trial.
NEWS
March 2, 2014 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA A Common Pleas Court judge overturned 17 more convictions Friday tied to former Philadelphia narcotics officer Jeffrey Walker, the latest consequence in a widening corruption scandal involving the department's antidrug squad. So far, Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper has reversed about 85 cases in which Walker played a role. Friday's batch marked the first dismissals since the disgraced former officer pleaded guilty to federal robbery and firearms charges this week. Nine other cases were flagged for potential reversal at an April hearing.
NEWS
February 13, 2014 | By Ben Finley, Inquirer Staff Writer
A Montgomery County judge on Tuesday ordered a former tennis coach at a Main Line girls' school to face trial for allegedly kissing and sending suggestive text messages to a player on his team. The judge's decision followed about 30 minutes of sometimes tearful testimony from the girl, who was 15 at the time of the alleged crimes. Charles Meredith, 52, coached her for about two years at Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Bryn Mawr before his arrest in December. He has since been fired.
NEWS
January 29, 2014 | By Craig R. McCoy and Amy Worden, Inquirer Staff Writers
It began with a TV news story that said an aide to a newly elected state representative preferred to work all day at his North Philadelphia garage. On Monday, it grew into something more, as Philadelphia prosecutors announced corruption charges against Democratic State Rep. J.P. Miranda and his sister, accusing them of siphoning pay from the "ghost" employee to divert it to the sister. Miranda, 28, and Michelle Wilson were each charged with three felonies - conflict of interest, perjury, and criminal conspiracy, District Attorney Seth Williams said.
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