State Sen. Washington Pleads Guilty to Felony Charge

As expected, on Thursday State Senator LeAnna Washington pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conflict of interest. She was charged with using her office to plan birthday parties for herself that doubled as political fundraisers.

Washington, who is also being sued by her former chief of staff, said she was “sorry” in court.

Washington avoided jail time by pleading guilty; she was sentenced to three months of home confinement, 57 months probation and must pay $200,000 in restitution. The state dropped a theft of services charge.

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Pa. State Senator to Plead Guilty to Felony Charge

Pennsylvania State Senator LeAnna Washington will plead guilty next week to charges she used taxpayer money to fund political fundraisers.

Washington is facing two felony counts of theft of services. It’s not clear if she’s pleading guilty to one or both counts, and neither the prosecution nor the defense would say if she would serve any jail time. She faced 12 years.

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Man Accused of Montco Murder Found In North Carolina

Wilcox

Montgomery County authorities announced Friday the arrest of Chad Marshall Wilcox — the man accused of killing 36-year-old Manuel Hakimian last month in Norristown. In a release, District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said Wilcox admitted to North Carolina authorities that he plotted to meet Hakimian on Craigslist for a sexual encounter with the intention of robbing him.

Hakiman was found dead on the evening of September 21st, his throat slashed.

After he committed the murder, authorities say, Wilcox stole Hakimian’s car and wallet. He was first spotted in Tennessee and Kentucky. An officer spotted Wilcox in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and a chase ensued. Wilcox, 28, crashed the stolen car and escaped on foot.

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Bankruptcy Judge Calls Two People “Apes” in Courtroom

A U.S. Bankruptcy judge called two people “apes” in her courtroom, the Daily News’ Ronnie Polaneczky writes in her column today.

Polaneczky was at a status hearing where 15 defendants, along with city consumer advocate Lance Haver, could state their complaints in front of Jean FitzSimon, the judge who handled the bankruptcy of Autosource. When Autosource went bankrupt, lender Avangard repossessed some cars it had the titles to — even though the buyers were current on loans and these cars weren’t on a list of autos FitzSimon approved for repo.

FitzSimon said the hearing was so the people who have had their cars repossessed could meet Avangard’s attorney. As a federal bankruptcy judge, FitzSimon had no standing. But the people arriving at the hearing thought this was a chance to get their cars back. Whoops.

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Another Guilty Plea in Main Line Drug Ring

main-line-drug-bust-mugshot-timothy-brooks-400x400Timothy Brooks, who prosecutors have charged as second in command in the Main Line drug ring, pleaded guilty Tuesday to five of the 13 counts against him. The other counts are expected to be dropped at sentencing.

Brooks, 19, say prosecutors, was one of the two ringleaders of the drug ring that sold marijuana and other drugs to students at Main Line high schools and colleges. Prosecutors say Neil K. Scott was more culpable in the scheme, but Brooks is the one who coined the phrase “Main Line takeover project.”

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Ex-Eagle Irving Fryar, Mother Reject Plea Deals, Will Head to Trial

Former NFL football star, Irving Fryar, right, and his mother Allene McGhee appear before Judge James W. Palmer in Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly, N.J., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, as they pleaded not guilty to charges that they conspired to steal more than $690,000 through a mortgage scam. State prosecutors allege Fryar's 80-year-old mother, Allene McGhee, of Willingboro, N.J., submitted false information to obtain five loans on her home within a six-day period. (AP Photo | Dennis McDonald)

Former NFL football star, Irving Fryar, right, and his mother Allene McGhee appeared before Judge James W. Palmer in Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly, N.J., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, as they pleaded not guilty to charges that they conspired to steal more than $690,000 through a mortgage scam. State prosecutors allege Fryar’s 80-year-old mother, Allene McGhee, of Willingboro, N.J., submitted false information to obtain five loans on her home within a six-day period. (AP Photo | Dennis McDonald)

Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Irving Fryar and his mother, accused in a mortgage fraud scam in New Jersey, both turned down plea deals in court Tuesday and will head to trial on charges of mortgage fraud.

“I have lost everything,” Fryar’s mother, Allene McGhee, said in court. Both Fryar and his mother live in Willingboro, New Jersey. Fryar was born in Mount Holly and played for the Eagles for three seasons from 1996 to 1998. He remained in the area after retiring, and briefly worked for Action News.

Fryar and McGhee are accused of conspiring with another man, William Barksdale, to obtain five mortgages on McGhee’s Willingboro home last year. Barksdale pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud earlier this year and was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison. Under the plea deal, Fryar and McGhee would have pleaded guilty to second-degree theft by deception and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution. Fryar would have been sentenced to five years; McGhee three.

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Prosecutor’s Misdeeds Mean Trio Won’t Be Retried for Murder

A judge ruled yesterday that three men once convicted of torturing and murdering another man won’t be retried for the crime. Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner ruled the case couldn’t be retried due to prosecutorial misconduct during the original 2006 crime.

A jury convicted Aquil Bond, Jawayne Brown and Richard Brown of second-degree murder in 2006 and sentenced them to life without parole. Witnesses testified the three men duct-taped 25-year-old Rohan Haughton, tortured him with a hot kitchen knife and shot him in the head. All four men were involved in the drug trade.

But the state’s highest court threw out the conviction in 2012, saying Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron committed multiple instances of prosecutorial misconduct at trial. During closing arguments, Cameron said a prosecution witness had helped solve seven murders. Additionally, he had the chief of the homicide Unit, Ed McCann, testify to corroborate witness testimony.

Lerner ruled yesterday the state’s constitution doesn’t allow a retrial when a verdict is thrown out due to prosecutorial misconduct.

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UPDATE: Kane Promises Email Cooperation With Castille

AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

[Update 9:30 a.m.] AP reports that Kane is making a stronger pledge of cooperation with Castille:

Kane told Castille she will try to give him the emails “if deemed as permissible” and that the issue is under review by her civil division. She said he was concerned there may be a risk to taxpayers because of a potential civil lawsuit.

“I understand that the Court considers this matter to be of utmost importance,” Kane wrote. “Our cooperation will be to the full extent of our abilities. I request your understanding as well with our limited resources. We are doing the best that we can in the shortest amount of time as possible.”

[Original] Attorney General Kathleen Kane is at loggerheads with Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald Castille over the racy email scandal that has already claimed the jobs of several top officials in Harrisburg.

Castille wants information about any judges who may have participated in the trading of such emails, but Kane, so far at least, is of little help. The Inquirer reports:
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Judge: Email Scandal Could Spread to Judiciary

Chief Justice Ronald Castille wants to know if Pennsylvania judges were among the officials who exchanged racy emails with other state government officials. He’s asking Attorney General Kathleen Kane to name any judges who might have participated in the burgeoning scandal.
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Philadelphia Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr. Pleads Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges

waters

[UPDATE] According to an information (read the full document below) released by the U.S. Department of Justice, as expected, former municipal court judge Joseph C. Waters, who resigned his position yesterday, has pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and honest services wire fraud.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office issued the following release:

“Joseph C. Waters, Jr., 61, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty today to using his judicial position to influence the outcome of two cases in the Philadelphia Municipal Court, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. Waters, a former Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge, pleaded guilty to an information charging mail fraud and honest services wire fraud.

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