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Jury Finds Philly Narcotics Unit Accused of Robbing Drug Money, Not Guilty of Racketeering

May 15, 2015  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Jury Finds Philly Narcotics Unit Accused of Robbing Drug Money, Not Guilty of Racketeering Feds rest their case against 6 Philly narcs

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A jury has acquitted six Philadelphia narcotics squad officers of federal racketeering and corruption charges on Thursday.

The Jury found Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman and John Speiser, not guilty. Federal Prosecutors accused the officers of beating and robbing drug suspects during their time as members of the Philadelphia Police Narcotics Field Unit.

The defendants each face one count of racketeering conspiracy. Reynolds and Speiser had also faced additional charges including conspiracy to violate the civil rights of suspected drug dealers

The Jury heard Testimony lasting over a month. Government witnesses repeatedly said the Narcotics Unit Officers acted like gangsters instead of cops. The witnesses claimed the police unit used violence against suspects, planted evidence, stealing large amounts of drug money, ignoring due process and covering up their crimes by falsifying official police reports.

Former officer Jeffrey Walker testified during his years as a member of the drug squad he took part and witnessed “thousands” of crimes while on duty.

Walker said he nor his former partners never worried about sending people were to prison based on planted evidence or false testimony because drug dealers weren’t considered “human.”

The 26 count federal indictment centered on Walker’s statements, where he accused his police brethren of roughing up suspects, lying to win convictions, planting evidence and pocketing drug money.

“I was very loyal to the guys; I would lie for them. I would steal for them. I would abuse people for them. I wanted to be part of the squad,” Walker testified on the stand.

The jury cleared team leader Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Perry Betts, Michael Spicer, Linwood Norman and John Speiser. Defense lawyers attacked the character of Walker, a 24-year veteran, throughout the trial, labeling him a lying thief and lone actor.

“When you’re dirty, despicable, dumb and arrogant, it’s easy to get you,” lead defense lawyer Jack McMahon told jurors.

Most of the government witnesses admitted to being drug dealers, one of them, a college graduate, testified to profiting $50,000 a month from marijuana sales. He told the jury the officers dangled him by his feet from a high-rise balcony looking for his drug stash during his arrest. The man accused the cops of stealing $80,000 in cash.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen McCartney argued the fact that despite the witnesses criminal behavior, their accounts are shockingly similar to what Jeffrey Walker had told them.”

The federal trial follows numerous complaints and lawsuits lodged against Licardello’s undercover squad over the years. The 2013 racketeering indictment against the cops and Walker’s agreement to turn state’s evidence resulted in 160 convictions being overturned.

Out of all the officers standing trial, Spicer was the only one to take the stand, testifying that although Liciardello was an aggressive leader who often bragged would often brag about making significant arrests. He never crossed the line.

The Defense teams argued the fact that the Narcotics Unit’s job was very difficult and dangerous, but they performed their duties well. Some of the attorney’s closing arguments were emotional enough to bring some family members and one juror to tears.

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