“I’ve been a police officer for over 40 years and this is one of the worst cases of corruption I’ve ever heard.” – Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey
Last July, six Philadelphia
armed thugs police officers who served in the narcotics squad were arrested on charges – including conspiracy, robbery, extortion, kidnapping, and drug dealing – for a six-year racketeering scheme during which the group netted $500,000 in drugs, cash, and personal property.
The six were taken into custody by the FBI on July 30, 2014 after a two-year joint investigation by the FBI, federal prosecutors, and the Philadelphia Police internal affairs unit, said US Attorney Zane David Memeger.
The 42-page indictment is filled with allegations of misconduct that would make the Mafia proud.
Drug suspect Michael Cascioli says he was dragged inside his City Avenue apartment in November 2007 and beaten by the officers until he directed them to another man’s money and drugs.
Cascioli said he was confronted by the officers in the hallway of his apartment building:
…he saw three figures wearing dark clothing and ski masks coming straight at him. When he turned to run, three more approached from the opposite direction and then more, yelling and tackling him to the ground.
Until one officer briefly flashed a badge, Cascioli said he thought he was being robbed.
The ringleader of the bunch, whom Cascioli would later learn from photos was Officer Thomas Liciardello, yelled: “F— you, scumbag,” before throwing him into the wall. The indictment also states Officer Perry Betts dragged him back into the apartment and threw him into a wall.
Cascioli said Betts yelled: “I’m going to f—ing break your face if you don’t tell us where the f— the money is.” Cascioli says he told the officers the only money he had was the $800 on his nightstand. But they didn’t buy it.
Inside the apartment, Cascioli said officers tore through his belongings, breaking whatever they came across. One officer urinated on a pile of his belongings. (source)
Cascioli says the officers drank rum that he brought on a trip to the Caribbean and stole his jewelry, electronics, and clothing:
The indictment states that officers Liciardello, Betts, Michael Spicer and Linwood Norman “stole personal items belonging to M.C. valued at approximately $8,000 from M.C.’s apartment.”
When Cascioli refused to give the officers the password to a PalmPilot they were convinced held names of his suppliers and buyers, Cascioli says Liciardello asked him a question:
“Have you ever seen ‘Training Day’?”
When Cascioli said yes, Cascioli says Liciardello looked him in the eyes and said: “This is ‘Training Day’ for f—ing real,” and then instructed officers Norman and Jeffrey Walker to take him to the balcony.
According to Cascioli and the indictment, Liciardello told them to “do whatever they had to do to get the password.”
Out on the balcony, Cascioli says officers Norman and Walker lifted him up by each arm and leaned him over the balcony railing, pushing him farther and farther out until he promised to cooperate.
Cascioli took a deal was sentenced to one to two years in jail, plus probation, for selling drugs. He served 13 months.
In October 2013, he got a call from feds: they were building a case against the officers and wanted to talk. Despite being terrified of the cops, he testified.
Cascioli says all six of the officers who were charged were in his apartment the night he was harassed, robbed, and threatened.
And one of the cops who held Cascioli over his balcony – Jeffrey Walker – was involved in the bust: he flipped on his fellow officers after he was arrested in May 2013.
Walker, then a 23-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, was arrested after he planted drugs in a suspect’s car, stole a house key, then went to the target’s home and stole approximately $15,000.
He was arrested leaving the house and, the FBI reports, he confessed immediately.
After his arrest, Walker told the FBI that his unit robbed, beat, and threatened drug dealers. He said that members of his unit stole items ranging from loose change to $80,000 in a safe that they removed from an apartment and carried down 17 flights of stairs. Walker also said that in a 2009 incident, he and Norman seized four kilograms of cocaine – and Norman turned and resold three of them on the street.
James McIntyre, another victim, told CBS that he was manhandled by several of the accused officers, then wrongfully arrested. He spent six months in jail before the charges against him were withdrawn. “It was a nightmare, an absolute nightmare,” he said.
Another man is expected to testify that the officers stole $12,000 and held him in a dank hotel room for days while threatening his family if he failed to cooperate with them.
Michael Procopio says Liciardello and Reynolds seized a $18,000 and a Rolex watch during a search of his home, and used his money to order pizza for other officers. Liciardello reported only $4,750 as seized and made no mention of the watch in his police report.
Four years after that incident, Liciardello, Reynolds, and Speiser allegedly targeted Procopio again, pulling his car over and seizing $3,900. Prosecutors said Speiser failed to state in the incident report that they seized any money.
About 100 civil rights lawsuits against the officers have been filed, and hundreds of cases based on the drug unit’s work have been thrown out.
At a hearing last year, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek said, “This case is in many ways outrageous, with people being hung out over balconies, people having their teeth knocked in, people being hit on the back of the head with steel bars.”
At least 19 individuals have testified against the officers. Many of those witnesses are not exactly upstanding citizens themselves, but that doesn’t excuse the abusive and illegal behavior of the accused officers, as Wzorek pointed out in his opening statement:
“Taking money while armed as a Philadelphia police officer is still theft,” Wzorek told the jury. “Think about how they used their power and guns to intimidate the Philadelphia community. Don’t let yourself get distracted from that.”
The joint investigation by the Philadelphia Police Department and the FBI also revealed the officers would play a “game” in which they scored points by coming up with different ways of abusing suspects.
Following the announcement of charges against the six cops last year, Mayor Nutter said the message to the rest of the police force is, if you are corrupt, you will be prosecuted:
“The message is the same: do your job, don’t stray from the law. If you do, we will find you. You will be prosecuted and more than likely you will go to jail,” the mayor said, adding that these were a few bad apples in the Philadelphia Police Department.
“Ninety-nine to infinity percent of our officers are hard-working, dedicated, and honest,” Nutter said. “Unfortunately, there are a few who tarnish their badge.”
“Ninety-nine to infinity percent” are honest? The six involved in this case are “a few bad apples”?
It only took a few minutes to compile this list of articles about police misconduct in Philadelphia:
Entering the search term “Philadelphia” on the Cato Institute’s Police Misconduct website yielded 237 results.
Surely this is not the kind of behavior William Penn envisioned would occur in his City of Brotherly Love. After all, he gave Pennsylvania a written constitution which limited the power of government, provided a humane penal code, and guaranteed many fundamental liberties.
“Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them, and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men, than men upon governments. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad; if it be ill, they will cure it. But if men be bad, let the government be never so good, they will endeavour to warp and spoil it to their turn.” – William Penn
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Contributed by Lily Dane of The Daily Sheeple.
Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”