Sunday, May 24, 2015

POSTED: Thursday, May 9, 2013, 4:12 PM

The pending racketeering retrial for reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi looks less and less likely to resemble the seven-defendant, four-month marathon that was its predecessor.

On Thursday, a second codefendant in the case signaled his intention to plead guilty and skip a trial. Robert Ranieri is scheduled to plead guilty on June 13 before U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno, court records show. His plea would follow one last month by Anthony “Ant” Staino, a reputed captain who was slated to be retried after a mixed verdict in February that included a deadlock on 11 counts.

That leaves only Ligambi, his nephew and alleged capo, George “Georgie” Borgesi, and reputed soldier Eric Esposito in queue for the Oct. 15 retrial.

John P. Martin @ 4:12 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, May 5, 2013, 12:09 PM
2009 file photo: Judy Cassidy, left, the widow of Philadelphia Police Officer Chuck Cassidy; at right, John "Jordan" Lewis, who was convicted in Cassidy's slaying. (David Maialetti /John Costello / Staff Photographers)

It passed unnoticed on April 24, but Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has affirmed the first-degree murder conviction and death sentence of John “Jordan” Lewis in the Halloween 2007 killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Chuck Cassidy.

The majority opinion written by Justice Seamus P. McCaffery was filed almost four years after Lewis, now 26, was found guilty and sentenced to death by a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury and almost two years after the justices of the state’s high court heard oral argument in Lewis’ appeal.

On Nov. 12, 2009, the first day of his trial, Lewis pleaded guilty to a general charge of murder and six armed robberies, leaving to the jury the tasks of deciding the degree of murder and whether he should live or die for killing Cassidy, 54, during the holdup of a Dunkin' Donuts store at 6620 N. Broad St. in West Oak Lane.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 12:09 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, April 28, 2013, 4:25 PM
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)

With the murder trial of West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell likely to go to the jury this week, the leader of Philadelphia’s Catholics has weighed in on the side of critics of national media coverage – or the lack thereof – of the trial of the 72-year-old physician.

While commending The Inquirer’s coverage of the two-year-old case and the trial, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote on April 26 in his weekly column that “most prestige national media have seemed remarkably eager to ignore the story until shamed into covering it.

“Gosnell is much more than a ‘local’ story,” wrote Chaput. “Forty years after the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, resistance to permissive abortion remains high. And the vivid details of the Gosnell clinic tragedy have the kind of salacious appeal that few national media would normally avoid - if the issue were anything else. But abortion is too often, and in too many news rooms, exactly the kind of topic that brings on a sudden case of snow blindness.”

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 4:25 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, April 27, 2013, 2:19 PM
FILE - In a Tuesday, March 27, 2012 file photo, Monsignor William Lynn leaves the Criminal Justice Center, in Philadelphia. Lynn was the first U.S. church official branded a felon for covering up molestation claims against priests. He's serving three to six years in prison. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

If the court filings are any indication, Msgr. William J. Lynn’s appeal of conviction on a child endangerment count will be as hard-fought as last year’s 11-week-long trial where a Philadelphia jury found him guilty for his supervisory role in the child sex-abuse scandal involving the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

On Friday, just days after Philadelphia media reported on Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina’s 235-page opinion affirming Lynn’s conviction and her handling of the landmark trial, lawyers for Lynn filed their response in Pennsylvania's Superior Court, faulting the judge for virtually every key ruling she made.

The 21-page response by Thomas A. Bergstrom and Allison Khaskelis, Lynn’s appellate lawyers, asks the Superior Court to overturn the conviction of the 62-year-old cleric and argues that Sarmina wrongly allowed city prosecutors to charge Lynn under the broader 2007 amended child endangerment statute.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 2:19 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, April 14, 2013, 7:21 PM
Dr. Kermit Gosnell and his lawyer, William Brennan, talks to DN reporter on Monday, March 8, 2010. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer) (Daily News/Inquirer)

Say what you will about abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, the man was something of a naturalist.

After four weeks of testimony at the 72-year-old doctor’s murder trial, the witnesses’ one consistent description of the interior of Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society clinic at 3801-05 Lancaster Ave. was lots of plants and animals.

Photos of the four buildings that were combined into the West Philadelphia clinic show plants in almost every free space and countertop. There were one or more cats that had the run of the building and, dominating the waiting room, were huge glass tanks containing Gosnell’s collection of angel fish and turtles.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 7:21 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, April 7, 2013, 4:27 PM
The Women's Medical Society in Philadelphia where abortion doctor Kermit B. Gosnell catered to minorities, immigrants and poor women. He is charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors.

Kermit Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society clinic has been a fixture at the corner of 38th Street and Lancaster Avenue since 1979.

But maybe not much longer.

Authorities say the landmark building – actually four buildings, 3801 through 3805, that Gosnell renovated and turned into a maze of rooms for his family medical and abortion practice – has seriously deteriorated since Feb. 18, 2010 when a state-federal task force raided and closed the facility.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 4:27 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, April 1, 2013, 2:55 PM

Some readers may remember the post earlier this month about Andrei Govorov, the Philadelphia prosecutor who decided to intervene in a loud, angry confrontation on the Broad Street Subway and got pummeled for his trouble.

Well, Govorov was back in court last week to testify at the preliminary hearing of his alleged assailant, Kamile Ladson, 30, of West Oak Lane. From Govorov’s viewpoint, probably the best that can be said is that Ladson was held for trial on aggravated assault and other charges and Govorov left the hearing without a concussion.

Over the objections of the prosecutor and rulings by Municipal Court Judge J. Scott O’Keefe, defense attorney William D. Hobson focused on the role he suggested Govorov played in causing his own assault.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 2:55 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, March 24, 2013, 6:26 PM
Dr. Kermit Gosnell and his lawyer, William Brennan, talks to DN reporter on Monday, March 8, 2010. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

The resume is impressive.

Only child of a middle-class Philadelphia family, 1959 graduate of Central High School, undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College. A medical degree from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia followed by four decades of practicing community medicine among the poor including the creation of a drug half-way house in Mantua and a teen aid program.

Married with six children including a professor at a storied New England university, a surgeon in San Francisco, aspiring actor in Los Angeles, a college student and teenager in high school as well as a woman brought into the house as a child and raised as their daughter.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 6:26 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
Inquirer reporter Joe Slobodzian covers the courts and writes about the people who find themselves there and what they face.

You can reach Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or jslobodzian@phillynews.com. Reach Joseph A. at jslobodzian@phillynews.com.

Joseph A. Slobodzian
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