June 8, 2016 |
It was the summer of 2015, and Philadelphia Police Officer Thomas Vitanovitz was ashamed – and addicted. Two shoulder surgeries from on-the-job injuries had led to a prescription for pain pills, and when it was time to stop taking them, he couldn't. "By the time I needed help, I was scared, extremely scared," he said. "I was embarrassed and ashamed to be a cop that has a pill problem. " In a telephone interview Monday, just hours after the U.S. Attorney's Office charged him with attempted extortion - and a police spokesman confirmed he had been suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss - Vitanovitz, 31, shared his story of addiction, recovery, and gratitude.
March 12, 2016 |
Andre Boyer, a former Philadelphia police officer who says he was fired for being a whistleblower, is trying to raise money online to investigate police corruption and cover his resulting, mounting legal expenses. His GoFundMe campaign, the "Dirty Corrupt Philly Cops Fund," is not exactly going gangbusters. In 20 days, only two people have donated $35 toward Boyer's $10,000 goal. Boyer is a 17-year veteran of the police department who lost his job in 2013 over allegations that he mishandled $6,000 during an arrest.
October 16, 2015 |
THERE'S A coffee shop around the corner from the weather-beaten slab of concrete that serves as the Philadelphia Police Department's headquarters. A few minutes after a visibly worn Commissioner Charles Ramsey wrapped up his umpteenth media interview of the afternoon, Bob Dylan started echoing through the shop. "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right. " You know the song. " I'm walkin' down that long, lonesome road, babe, " Dylan sang. " Where I'm bound, I can't tell. " After 47 years in law enforcement, Ramsey isn't exactly sure where he's headed, either.
August 26, 2015 |
Two new shows this week bear the mark of their auteurish creators: Accomplished filmmaker Edward Burns brings dramatic gravitas to the small screen with the period drama Public Morals , and stand-up comic Jerrod Carmichael manages to tackle weighty issues using a cliched sitcom format. Cops? Just another gang The Mad Men vibe has become the Holy Grail of TV. Every network seems desperate to match the unique texture of Matt Weiner's period drama. Most attempts - CBS's Vegas , ABC's Pan Am , NBC's Playboy Club, and TNT's Mob City - were misfires.
August 19, 2015 |
Whether Charles H. Ramsey remains Philadelphia's police commissioner may not be entirely up to the next mayor. Ramsey, 65, has done about everything one could do in nearly five decades in law enforcement. Even if the next mayor wants him, retirement will be enticing. That's not the impression he gave before the mayoral primary in May. "Obviously, my time will come to an end at some point," he said. "But I still love it. " However, all it may take is another fight with the police union, or another officer dying in the line of duty, for love to become like, and so on. State Sen. Anthony Williams pledged to fire Ramsey if elected mayor, but he lost the Democratic primary.
August 9, 2015 |
A Philadelphia judge on Friday reversed 158 narcotics convictions tainted by allegations of police corruption - the largest such dismissal in one day in city history. The rulings by Common Pleas Court President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper were the latest fallout from the federal prosecution of seven police narcotics officers. The officers - Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser - were acquitted of all charges at a federal trial in May. A seventh officer, Jeffrey Walker, pleaded guilty to separate federal corruption charges and testified against his former colleagues at trial.
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 |
SIX EX-NARCOTICS officers accused of going rogue and robbing suspected drug dealers during a six-year reign of terror walked out of federal court yesterday as free men after a jury acquitted them of all charges at the end of a six-week trial. Relatives of the former Narcotics Field Unit cops - Thomas Liciardello, 38; Michael Spicer, 47; Brian Reynolds, 43; Perry Betts, 47; Linwood Norman, 47; and John Speiser, 42 - packed into the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno to hear the verdict, which came just after 11 a.m. They erupted into cheers and tears of joy after the jury foreman answered "not guilty" to each of the 26 counts against the men. Some of the officers faced more counts than others, but the charges against them included racketeering conspiracy, robbery, use of excessive force and falsifying police reports.
May 7, 2015 |
Lawyers on both sides of the federal corruption trial of six members of an elite Philadelphia Police Department narcotics squad finally found on Tuesday - the day they began their closing arguments - a point on which they could agree: The decision in this case, they told jurors, should be easy. It would be "absurd," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen McCartney, to believe that a disgraced former police officer and 19 drug suspects independently came up with the same detailed lies about a series of police abuses.
May 5, 2015 |
THE POLLS and surveys tell you education is the issue that voters care about most in the mayor's race. But the streets tell a different story. Thousands of people have marched through Philadelphia recently - to protest the police killings of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Brandon Tate-Brown in Frankford and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The outcry hasn't been just about the deaths - but for greater transparency in how police-involved shootings are investigated, and for bad cops to face meaningful discipline.