Tuesday, April 21, 2015
The Philly Rogue Cops Case: The Otter Defense
Veteran crime reporter Ralph Cipriano is covering the so-called Philly rogue cops case for bigtrial.net.
We're entering our fourth week in the rogue cops trial, and so far the poster boy is Jeffrey Walker.
He's the dirty cop who got caught red-handed in an FBI sting operation walking out of a drug dealer's house with $15,000 and five pounds of marijuana. The drunk who showed up loaded at work and got so bombed at his favorite bar every night that he passed out while drooling on himself. The office screw-up who dozed off during stake-outs, bailed on a raid because he needed a hit of Milk of Magnesia; the bumbler who forgot where he left his gun.
Meanwhile, over at the defense table sits Tommy Licardello. If the prosecution's story line is to believed, Liciardello is the dark criminal mastermind who knew how to placate the department brass with headline-grabbing busts while he and his gang were beating and ripping off drug dealers. An amoral, ruthless bandit with a badge who was so slick he supposedly knew how to hide the booty from the feds and all their undercover cameras and FBI accountants.
The jury seems to have gotten their fill of Jeffrey Walker. When the marshalls led him away in handcuffs last week after three days on the witness stand, every juror I saw was looking the other way. Meanwhile, as the trial enters its fourth week, the jury has only seen and will probably never hear from Tommy Licardello. All the jury knows about Liciardello, the pale guy at the defense table who's being held in solitary confinement, is a bunch of allegations from some drug dealers he busted. As for the rest of the defendants, as far as the testimony goes, it's hard to tell Michael Spicer from John Speiser. They're just a bunch of anonymous RICO conspirators.
The feds, already guilty of sloppy detective work in the rogue cops case, can also be faulted for bad story-telling.
The sloppiness of the feds in this case has been ampty demonstrated.
On the eve of trial, the government had to drop a couple of counts from a 26-count indictment because one of their sleazeball witnesses got busted again. And because the feds didn't do their homework in checking out another sleazeball witness's story.
Mistakes were made, an FBI agent admited on the stand. The defense has already made hay out of their plan to call several of the rogue cops's supervisors to the stand, witnesses that the feds never even bothered to talk to.
We didn't interview one lieutenant, an FBI agent testified, because we didn't think he would tell the truth.
Or as the defense suggested, maybe it was because it was only your version of the truth that you wanted to hear.
There are plenty of other problems with the prosecution's case. If Tommy Licardello and the boys stole $500,000 from the drug dealers, as the feds have alleged, what did they do with the money? If the defense is to be believed, there's no paper trail on the alleged booty, or undercover screen grabs of cops getting caught red-handed. Just the word of Walker and a bunch of drug dealers all singing the same song in the federal choir.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: