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GANGSTER COPS: Former Drug Dealers Testify How Dirty Narcotics Officer Dangled Him From Balcony

April 3, 2015  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
GANGSTER COPS: Former Drug Dealers Testify How Dirty Narcotics Officer Dangled Him From Balcony

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Former drug dealers testified against members of a Philadelphia Police Narcotics Unit this week, claiming the officers used violent tactics against them, including hanging them from a 19th floor balcony.

The jury heard testimony in the federal corruption trial of the accused Philadelphia Narcotics Officers: Thomas Liciardello, Michael Spicer, Brian Reynolds, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman and John Speiser.

Prosecutors say the officers acted more like vicious crime syndicates, who have been shaking down drug dealers for years.

The cops have allegedly committed gang-like tactics, earning over $400,000 in cash, drugs, and personal property from drug seizures.

Prosecutors maintain that the officers listed lesser amounts on police reports to cover up the skimming.

Witnesses described, in detail, the violent tactics that the Philadelphia drug unit used to work significant drug cases, which led to many convictions and commendations.

Former Drug Dealer Michael Cascioli testified Tuesday and recollected the November 2007 events that led Liciardello and the other defendants to his 19th-floor penthouse.

According to Cascioli, his neighbor started cooperating with the Narcotics Unit 10 days prior to the bust. The neighbor asked to buy marijuana and mushrooms from Cascioli in an effort by the cops to catch him in the act of a sale.

Cascioli told the court he left to deliver the drugs. However, Liciardello and the other rogue officers in ski masks and dark clothes tackled him.

“My first thought, it was the Mafia, and I was getting robbed,” said Cascioli. The officers led him back into his apartment. The groups leader Liciardello then instructed two of the officers, Linwood Norman, and Jefferey Walker, to hold Cascioli over the balcony and drop him if he didn’t cooperate.

“I had two big guys on both sides of me. My feet were off the ground,” Cascioli said. “I was thinking they’re just going to drop me right there.”

Cascioli brought to mind the question asked by Liciardello, “You’ve seen the movie Training Day?” referring to the 2001 film with Denzel Washington, who played a dirty cop. “Well, this is Training Day for . . . real.”

The witness recalled the chilling threat Liciardello made: “Hey, we’ll just throw you off this balcony, and no one will ever know.”

Cascioli, who described himself as one of Philly’s largest wholesale weed distributors, claims he was beaten and pressured to set up his main supplier, Bronx-based dealer, Jeremy Sarkissina.

Cascioli claimed the officers never presented a search warrant and accused them of robbing cash and expensive items from his apartment.
The bust involving Cascioli netted $500,000 in cash and 16 pounds of marijuana, garnering widespread news coverage.

Another witness Jason Kennedy testified in court on Thursday regarding a 2010 incident involving the defendants. Kennedy said at first he mistook a burly undercover Police officer holding a sledgehammer for an armed robber after he smashed through his apartment window.

After scuffling with the officer, identified as Michael Spicer, he ended subdued in cuffs. He suffered bruised skull and a loose tooth.

The Spicer then asked, “Headfirst or feet first?” before holding him by his pants from the third-floor balcony of his apartment, as the cops ransacked the apartment. Kennedy told the court the defendants located a stash of $280,000 in cash hidden. But only reported $210,000 in the police report.

Kennedy testified he underestimated the dangers of taking over his friend’s marijuana operation, even though the money was good.

“Hanging over a balcony isn’t one of the risks that anyone takes into consideration,” he testified.

Ian Bates, another alleged pot dealer, explained why he never filed a police complaint after the officers took $63,000 from his home during a 2010 raid.

“I spoke to my lawyer and he said there was no point. It’s my word against theirs,” said Bates, 38, who is now a waiter after selling weed for five years. Bates made a career change after being arrested twice.

The officers listed $65,000 in cash seized during the raid. However, Bates told the court they took over $86,000 in a silver box, intended for a drug buy.

Bates also said on the stand said there was an additional $42,000 in a guitar case, which went missing.

During cross-examination, Bates told the defense he smoked marijuana “all day” prior to the police raid at 3 p.m. He admitted to being a regular marijuana smoker since the age of 13. When the defense asked the habit affected his memory, Bates said, “I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.”

Five of the suspected officers raided Bates’ Home including lead defendant Thomas Liciardello, Spicer, Walker and co-defendants Brian Reynolds and Perry Betts.

The District Attorney’s Office had originally faced a daunting task in attempting to prosecute the case, given that the majority of witnesses are criminals.

However, their star witness, is one of the of the men orginally indicted along with the other six defendants.

Jeffrey Walker is the former member of the Narcotics Unit Cascioli alleges held him from the balcony.

Walker cut a deal with the prosecution and pled guilty to lesser charges. The former cop agreed to testify against the officers and will detail how they regularly skimmed money and narcotics during their time working the streets.

The Defense has already ramped up attacks on Walker’s credibility, labeling him “dirty” and “disreputable.”

Federal, State, and City prosecutors ceased accepting cases from the unit after numerous complaints started mounting against the narcotics officers. The indictments of the six men led to scores of drug convictions being overturned.

In addition, civil lawsuits are expected to move forward once the criminal proceedings have concluded. The trial is set to resume Tuesday and is expected to last about two months.

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