INQUIRER: Six Philadelphia police officers were arrested Wednesday in a predawn roundup and charged with robbing, kidnapping, and extorting drug suspects over a nearly seven-year period. The officers all were veterans of a narcotics squad that came under the scrutiny of a joint FBI-Police Department Internal Affairs investigation. According to a 42-page indictment, some of the officers allegedly took part in a game involving beating drug suspects for points. Others held one suspect from a balcony 30-feet above the ground and knocked out his teeth.
The arrests come seven months after Ramsey first acknowledged a federal probe was underway and said he had pulled at least four of its targets, all narcotics squad veterans, off of street duty. The probe intensified after former officer Jeffrey Walker pleaded guilty to federal counts of attempted robbery and using a gun during a violent crime in January. Prosecutors said during his last court hearing he had been cooperating with the investigation. Questions have dogged the narcotics officers’ work since at least 2012, when District Attorney Seth Williams said his office would no longer used their testimony in drug cases, a decision that resulted in the dismissal of scores of cases. The city has since paid at least $777,000 to settle lawsuits claiming the officers framed suspects with false testimony and evidence. Dozens more remain on court dockets awaiting resolution.
Walker, 45, began cooperating with the investigation almost as soon as he was arrested last year in an FBI sting operation, his lawyer said. An undercover informant caught the former officer on tape scheming to set up a South Philadelphia drug dealer by planting nearly 28 grams of cocaine in his car. Walker later took his mark’s keys, broke into his house and stole $15,000 and five pounds of marijuana. MORE
PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Today July 30, 2014, the United States Attorney’s Office unsealed an indictment charging six members of The Philadelphia Police Department with RICO conspiracy, robbery, extortion, kidnapping and drug dealing. United States Attorney Zane David Memeger announced the charges against the six police officers this morning after their arrest. ??The case was investigated by a joint task force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Philadelphia Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau. The names of those arrested and charged are:
Thomas Liciardello – 38yrs old, 19 year veteran of the force, appointed 06-26-95 – 12yrs in Narcotics
Perry Betts – 46yrs old, 19 year veteran of the force, appointed 01-02-95 – 13yrs in Narcotics
Norman Linwood – 46 yrs old, 24 year veteran of the force, appointed 09-11-89 — 16yrs in Narcotics
Brian Reynolds – 43yrs old, 20 year veteran of the force, appointed 08-13-93 — 13yrs in Narcotics
John Speiser – 42yrs old, 19 year veteran of the force, appointed 10-17-94 — 5yrs in Narcotics
Michael Spicer – 46yrs old, 19 year veteran of the force, appointed 05-22-95 — 12yrs in Narcotics
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey is suspending these individuals for thirty days with the intent to dismiss.
PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER CHARLES H. RAMSEY: “It’s never a good feeling when you have to deliver this type of news about members of your department; however, it shows the ongoing efforts of our FBI/Internal Affairs Task Force to rid the department of individuals who don’t belong in our ranks. We don’t tolerate this type of disgraceful behavior, and these officers don’t represent the majority of this department. The majority of our department is represented in the dedicated police work displayed daily by working endlessly with the community and getting wanted criminals off the street. We will continue to be transparent; we will continue to pursue those involved in corruption, and remove those who don’t belong in this department. We will continue to make strong efforts in developing a trusting relationship with every community as we build a safer Philadelphia for our citizens.”
INQUIRER: All the officers, except for Speiser, face up to life in prison, officials said. For Speiser, the maximum term is 40 years. Ramsey suspended all six for 30 days with the intent to dismiss. MORE