September 18, 2015 |
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.
September 11, 2015 |
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.
August 28, 2015 |
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.
August 10, 2015 |
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.
August 7, 2015 |
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.
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.
July 22, 2015 |
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.
July 15, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Rep. Vanessa Brown, the Philadelphia legislator who abruptly abandoned plans to plead guilty to corruption charges, now faces trial next month in the resurrected sting case. In a brief hearing Monday, Dauphin County Court Judge Scott Evans set Brown's tentative trial date for Aug. 10. Brown told the judge she was no longer represented by an attorney and was finding a new one. "You should have an attorney," he told her. Brown declined to comment before leaving the courthouse.
July 12, 2015 |
Six former Philadelphia police officers acquitted of corruption charges by a federal jury in May have won their jobs back through arbitration, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter confirmed Friday. Mark McDonald, the mayor's press secretary, said the former narcotics officers - Michael Spicer, Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser - will get $90,000 in back pay and have their original badges returned. McDonald said five of the officers would be assigned to districts and would not return to the Narcotics Field Unit.
June 18, 2015
DOES THE NAME Michael Wojcik ring a bell? How about Emil Giordano? Christine Donahue? Anne Covey? They are all nominees to fill vacancies on Pennsylvania's three appellate courts: Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth. The odds are that at least one, and perhaps all of them, will be elected in November and take their seats on the bench, deciding every case appealed from local courts. If you flunked the ID test, you are in good company. Except for a relative handful of activists, judicial candidates are the electoral equivalent of question marks.