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Corruption

NEWS
November 15, 2015 | By Mark Fazlollah and Aubrey Whelan, Inquirer Staff Writers
Philadelphia Police Officer Michael Spicer, recently acquitted of corruption charges after being implicated in a wide-ranging federal investigation of police misconduct, was promoted to sergeant Friday in a special ceremony at City Hall. Sgt. Joseph McCloskey, who supervised Spicer and five other narcotics officers charged in the criminal case and testified on their behalf, was also promoted Friday to the rank of lieutenant. A law enforcement source said the Police Department had opposed the promotions, so the ceremony was held at City Hall and coordinated by Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison in lieu of a representative from the department.
NEWS
September 23, 2015 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
Is U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah's frequent and forceful criticism of the federal Justice Department's case against him an effort to defend his reputation ahead of what could be a competitive reelection campaign next year, or, as prosecutors see it, a subtle and improper attempt to taint the jury pool? A federal judge was asked to weigh in Monday, as prosecutors sought to bar Fattah and his legal team from ignoring the evidence and building their defense strategy around the congressman's record in Washington and allegations of impropriety in the U.S. Attorney's Office.
NEWS
September 19, 2015 | By Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Washington Bureau
NEWARK - Sen. Robert Menendez's corruption trial likely won't begin until the fall of 2016, Judge William Walls told prosecutors and defense attorneys Thursday, scuttling plans to start Oct. 13. The two sides and the judge will look to set a more precise date at a January status conference. The decision came after three hours of heated debate over Menendez's attempts to have the entire 14-count indictment, or portions of it, dismissed. Walls sharply questioned the New Jersey Democrat's attorneys when they presented their most sweeping argument, involving constitutional protections that shield legislative acts from prosecution.
NEWS
September 18, 2015 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
Rep. Chaka Fattah's social network just became a little larger as federal prosecutors agreed to allow the Philadelphia Democrat to maintain contact with 16 potential government witnesses as he prepares for trial next year on corruption charges. Most on the newly approved list - which includes the likes of former Gov. Ed Rendell, Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), and State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.) - are elected officials, former staffers, and prominent constituents that Fattah's lawyers say he must continue to talk with in order to fulfill his congressional duties.
NEWS
September 11, 2015 | By Jeremy Roebuck and Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Staff Writers
Rep. Chaka Fattah is asking voters for help to pay his legal bills as he fights federal corruption charges that threaten to end his political career. The Philadelphia Democrat unveiled his pitch to potential donors this week on a new website, Fattah2016.com. He's asking backers to open their wallets in increments ranging from $25 to $5,000. Generous supporters can even contribute to his reelection campaign without even leaving the page. The fund, dubbed the "Preservation of Public Service Legal Trust," was created to "ensure that I have the best people and resources necessary to defend my name and my good works in Congress on behalf of the citizens of the Second Congressional District," Fattah said in a statement on the site.
NEWS
August 28, 2015 | By Angela Couloumbis and Craig R. McCoy, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen Kane blames two former state prosecutors for the criminal case against her, saying they "corruptly manufactured" the investigation to cover up the fact that they had viewed pornography on state computers. Kane's assertion was contained in hundreds of pages of court documents unsealed Wednesday by the state Supreme Court. In one legal filing from last November, Kane contends that Frank Fina and E. Marc Costanzo, when they worked for her predecessors, "regularly received, possessed and distributed misogynistic, pornographic, racist, obscene and offensive emails on their state-owned computers.
NEWS
August 10, 2015 | By Jonathan Tamari and Chris Palmer, Inquirer Staff Writers
WASHINGTON - On Thursday, it was Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the commonwealth's top law enforcement official, facing criminal allegations. Eight days earlier, federal prosecutors hit 11-term Philadelphia Rep. Chaka Fattah with 29 counts of racketeering and other charges. On May 1, a former aide to Gov. Christie and a close ally were indicted in the "Bridgegate" scandal. Exactly a month before that, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey was charged criminally with aiding a friend and donor in exchange for lavish gifts.
NEWS
August 7, 2015 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
Reading City Council President Francisco Acosta on Wednesday admitted his role in a bribery scheme involving the city's mayor and a consulting firm with a history of alleged efforts to skirt campaign finance laws in Philadelphia. Acosta, 39, a Democrat, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, making him the first public official to face charges since a series of high-profile city hall raids last month in Reading and Allentown. He told U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez that he took an $1,800 bribe meant to buy his support in repealing a city anticorruption ordinance - a statute that put caps on campaign contributions, and barred city officials from giving no-bid contracts to political donors.
NEWS
July 31, 2015
CALL IT A PANDEMIC of public corruption. It's gripping Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. Elected leaders are probed, charged, convicted, jailed, etc. in stupendously striking succession. A stark irony? The city and state where American democracy was born is setting the national pace for illegality in office. You get the damage this causes, right? It undermines faith in government, faith in politics, faith in all elected officials. It spurs cynicism. It fuels frustration with those who fail at creating progress but succeed spectacularly at creating scandal.
NEWS
July 22, 2015 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
A lawyer for former Philadelphia Judge Willis W. Berry Jr. told a Common Pleas Court jury Monday that the criminal conflict-of-interest charges he faces were the result of retaliation by Berry's longtime secretary. "There's no fury like a woman scorned," Nino V. Tinari told the jury in his opening statement. Tinari said the state Attorney General's Office charged Berry only after his longtime secretary, Carolyn Fleming, went to the office after he fired her because she allegedly "siphoned $44,000" from his real estate business.
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