Thursday, September 18, 2014
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The judge who could not be bribed

No doubt, U.S. District Judge Stanley Brotman, 89, who signed his last order as a federal judge August 29, is still trying to pack up his chambers at the federal court in Camden before heading into retirement. On Labor Day, I wrote a profile of him. A few days later, I got this email from a former federal law enforcement agent. I don't ordinarily share my mail, but his mob story is too amazing to keep to myself. I'll put a few explanatory phrases in brackets.

The judge who could not be bribed

Judge Stanley Brotman
Judge Stanley Brotman Tom Gralish/Inquirer Staff

No doubt, U.S. District Judge Stanley Brotman, 89, who signed his last order as a federal judge August 29, is still trying to pack up his chambers at the federal court house in Camden before heading into retirement after 38 years on the bench. On Labor Day, I wrote a profile of him. The next day, I got this email from a former federal law enforcement agent. I don't ordinarily share my mail, but his mob story is too amazing to keep to myself. I'll put a few explanatory phrases in brackets.

"Jane, I wish I had a chance to talk to you before you wrote your article on Judge Brotman. When the Scarfo [organized crime] wars were going on and he shot Joe Salerno's father, I was the agent who testified in his court before he put Scarfo away. [Joseph "The Plumber" Salerno, Jr. was a prosecution witness against Scarfo].

Up until that time Scarfo, [Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, then head of Philadelphia's organized crime family] was threatening and harassing the agents investigating him. My family was a victim of his viciousness.

When we finally got him before Judge Brotman we knew we had a chance to bring justice to Scarfo. I had already put a Mafia person into the Witness Protection Program who offered Judge Brotman $350,000 cash for a not guilty verdict. Before he was killed, Phillip (Chicken Man) Testa told him to "save his money, the man can not be reached."

When we heard this we knew we could bring Scarfo to justice -- just get him before the Man Who Can't be Reached."

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer