Acquitted of corruption, 6 officers reinstated via arbitration

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Undated photos, from top left to right, show Philadelphia Police officers Thomas Liciardello, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and from bottom left to right, Brian Reynolds, John Speiser and Michael Spicer. (Philadelphia Police Department )

Six former Philadelphia police officers acquitted of corruption charges by a federal jury in May have won their jobs back through arbitration, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter confirmed Friday.

Mark McDonald, the mayor's press secretary, said the former narcotics officers - Michael Spicer, Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser - will get $90,000 in back pay and have their original badges returned.

McDonald said five of the officers would be assigned to districts and would not return to the Narcotics Field Unit. Norman will be assigned to the impound lot.

James J. Binns, who represented Spicer in the federal case, initially said his client and another officer, who was not charged, would receive promotions under the arbitrator's ruling. Binns said later Friday that he was wrong and that promotions were not part of the arrangement.

When Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey fired the six officers, he called the case "one of the worst cases of corruption I have ever heard." He told reporters that the officers' badges would be destroyed.

Ramsey could not be reached for comment.

Prosecutors alleged the men routinely beat and robbed drug suspects. The allegations prompted dozens of civil rights lawsuits, causing the reversal of nearly 450 drug convictions.

The trial included six weeks of testimony from 19 drug suspects and former Officer Jeffrey Walker, who pleaded guilty in a separate corruption last year.

After 51/2 days of deliberations, the jury found the six men not guilty on all counts.

The jurors did not explain their decision, but an alternate juror, Tim Hummell, said he didn't believe prosecutors offered enough evidence to convict. "The prosecutors were just nitpicking on paperwork," Hummell said.


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