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.
June 18, 2015 |
NEWARK, N.J. - A federal judge here on Tuesday denied a motion by Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) to move his corruption trial from New Jersey to Washington. U.S. District Judge William H. Walls rejected almost all of Menendez's arguments in favor of holding the trial in Washington and said a Newark trial would be more convenient to Menendez's constituents. "Justice's workings, such as judicial proceedings, should be readily transparent when possible," Walls said in reading his opinion from the bench.
June 9, 2015
LET'S TALK ABOUT a stereotype: Philadelphia's minority politicians are crooked. Discuss among yourselves. Profiling? Political stop-and-frisk? Or just overstating what looks like a pattern? And, yeah, I know the broader stereotype is that all politicians are crooked. But I bring this up because pols of color currently are in a perp parade. There's former Reps. Ron Waters, Harold James and J.P. Miranda, former Sen. LeAnna Washington, Rep. Michelle Brownlee, Rep. Louise Bishop, former Traffic Court President Judge Thomasine Tynes and head of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, Rep. Vanessa Brown.
May 29, 2015 |
When a city in the United States would like to host something as large as the Super Bowl or something as relatively modest as the USA Swimming national championships, that city puts together a bid package it hopes will be a winner in the competition against other cities vying to host the same event. The bid contains incentives, which could range from very reasonable accommodation and transportation arrangements during the event, to donations to development programs, to whatever else might make for a successful bid. It would be standard that officials of the organization that controls the event would visit the various bid cities to study the facilities and infrastructure of the bids, and would be treated very well while visiting.
May 16, 2015 |
Six members of an elite Philadelphia narcotics squad were acquitted Thursday of federal corruption charges - a verdict the men described as "vindication" after nearly a decade of federal scrutiny surrounding their conduct. A jury of six men and six women took 51/2 days to reject prosecutors' arguments that former Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser routinely beat and robbed drug suspects during their time as members of the Narcotics Field Unit.
May 15, 2015 |
A City Hall legal drama years in the making drew to a quiet close Wednesday as a federal judge accepted prosecutors' decision to dismiss their public corruption case against a top aide and two supporters of former Philadelphia City Councilman Jack Kelly. U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno had scheduled a new trial to begin for Kelly's former chief of staff, Christopher Wright; lawyer Andrew Teitelman; and developer Ravinder Chawla in August. But earlier this week, prosecutors moved to withdraw the case, citing "new witness-related developments due to the passage of time which lead the government to believe it can no longer prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.