Detective: Philly Police Retaliated Against Me for Whistleblowing

Philadelphia Police Headquarters, aka "The Roundhouse." | Beyond My Ken | Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia Police Headquarters, aka “The Roundhouse.” | Beyond My Ken | Wikimedia Commons

The city has settled a lawsuit with a Philadelphia Police detective who claims his superiors retaliated against him for blowing the whistle on civil rights violations within the department.

Detective Matthew Maurizio filed the suit in spring 2014, claiming he had been punished because he told his superiors about the practice of “icing” — holding arrestees in jail without the probable cause or charges required to do so, in violation of their rights.

The practice is used to shake loose information from the arrestees, Maurizio said in his suit. (See the complaint below.)

“Icing is to induce the held person to speak, to make the person provide a statement about matters the police are criminally investigating, to coerce the held person to speak when the person did not wish to speak to police or would not fully speak with police,” Maurizio’s lawyer, Brian Puricelli, wrote in the lawsuit.

The department, in a written statement to Philly Mag, denied the icing allegations. Read more »

Billy Doe’s Lawyer Pushes Back on Newsweek Cover Story

Ralph Cipriano, left. Slade McLaughlin, right.

Ralph Cipriano, left. Slade McLaughlin, right.

Billy Doe’s lawyer is pushing back against a Newsweek cover story that questions his client’s veracity in several Philadelphia Catholic Church sex abuse cases.

“I would think Newsweek would do some modicum of investigation of its journalism to make sure it was fair and unbiased,” said Slade McLaughlin. He took particular aim at the story’s author, Ralph Cipriano, a longtime Philly journalist who has covered the case closely for years.

“Ralph has an agenda,” McLaughlin said. “Ralph has his points to make.”

Cipriano this week stood by his reporting. “There’s no reason to believe this kid,” he told Philly Mag. He said criticism of the story amounted to “shooting the messenger” — and avoiding tackling hard questions raised by his reporting.

“My agenda was to expose a suspect prosecution and a fraudulent ‘victim’ who gamed the system,” Cipriano said in response to McLaughlin’s quote. “And he couldn’t have done it without his legal enablers, beginning in the district attorney’s office and ending with Slade McLaughlin.

Newsweek deputy editor Bob Roe also defended the story in an email to Philly Mag, saying Cipriano ” has consistently demonstrated that his loyalty is to the truth, not the players. We stand by the story.” Read more »

Report: City Settled Race Discrimination Suit Against D.A.

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

City Hall in 2014 settled a racial discrimination lawsuit aimed at District Attorney Seth Williams, the Daily News reported today.

The suit was brought by MK Feeney, a white female homicide prosecutor who says she was fired in 2011, accused of being “untruthful” in the aftermath of a Daily News cover story about turmoil in the the prosecutor’s office. Her suit said that a fellow homicide prosecutor — a black man, and a member of the same fraternity as Williams — later confessed to leaking the info, but was not fired. That man has since left the D.A.’s office.

“She would not have been fired if she was black. She was not the right color. She was not in the same fraternity,” a source told the paper. Read more »

Philly’s Larry Cooper Tried to Stop a Robbery. He Went to Jail Instead. A Court Says That’s OK.

Larry Cooper isn’t just an innocent man — the Philadelphia man is a Good Samaritan. That, at least, is what a federal appeals court says. But that wasn’t enough to keep him out of jail.

According to court records: When Cooper left Jefferson University Hospital one day in April 2012 — his wife had just undergone surgery — he was approached by a stranger asking directions. While he was helping, two men came up and robbed the stranger. Cooper tried chasing the robbers down — and when that failed, gave his cell phone to the victim to call police.

The victim told police that Cooper was one of the robbers. The police then arrested Cooper, despite his denials of being involved in the crime. Unable to post bail, he spent 77 days in jail before going free. Read more »

British Parliament Member Sues Philly Art Dealer Nicky Isen Over Warhol Paintings [UPDATED]

Left: British Parliament member Nadhim Zahawi in official British government photo. Right: One of the Warhol paintings in question.

Left: British Parliament member Nadhim Zahawi in official British government photo. Right: One of the Warhol paintings in question.

UPDATE 2/22/2016: British Parliament member Nadhim Zahawi has withdrawn his lawsuit against Philadelphia gallery owner Nathan “Nicky” Isen.


The transactions of prominent Philadelphia gallery owner Nathan “Nicky” Isen have long been the subject of speculation and controversy, as detailed by Philadelphia magazine’s Steve Volk in this August 2015 feature. Last year, Isen was sentenced to community service and probation in federal court after pleading guilty to money laundering, and now he has raised the ire of a prominent British politician, who is suing Isen for fraud. Read more »

Here’s a Philly Man’s Lawsuit Against Empire Creator Lee Daniels

A Philly man is suing Lee Daniels, the creator of the Fox show Empire, saying Daniels took the idea for the show from him.

Clayton Prince Tanksley says he pitched a show called Cream to Daniels at a 2008 event organized by the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. He says he gave Daniels a script and a DVD of three 30-minute episodes of the proposed show.

Tanksley says that Empire is “substantially similar” to Cream — with elements such as mood, characters, plots, scenes, and story lines that are “virtually identical” to the materials he gave Daniels at the pitch meeting.

It’s worth taking a look at the lawsuit, below, because it features side-by-side comparisons of Tanksley’s project and Empire. One example:

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 1.48.08 PM

Other defendants include producer Danny Strong, Fox TV, as well as Sharon Pinkenson and the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. The lawsuit, filed Friday, seeks an unspecified amount of damages, plus interest.

Here’s the Latest Lawsuit Against Kathleen Kane

"PennsylvaniaAnother day, another set of problems for Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

This time, it’s a federal lawsuit by two agents of the office — Michael Carlson and Michael Cranga — who say she unfairly denigrated their work on the so-called “abandoned sting” case, then denied them promotions as the matter spiraled into a multilayered scandal that came to include the “Porngate” affair.

The lawsuit seeks to hold Kane “accountable for maliciously and wantonly retaliating against them in violation of the First Amendment,” lawyers for the pair said in the complaint filed Monday.

A Kane spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit to the Morning Call.

The two agents said they worked on the case that caught Philadelphia lawmakers on tape accepting gifts from a confidential informant. Kane, when she entered office, did not pursue the investigation: It came to light in an Inquirer story in 2014. Kane, it seems, believed the story could be traced back to Frank Fina, a former lawyer in the attorney general’s office who went to serve in the Philadelphia district attorney’s office.

“Ms. Kane responded by publicly claiming that the investigation had been deeply flawed and tainted by racism, thus impugning the reputations of Agent Carlson and Agent Cranga,” the lawsuit states. “Believing that Mr. Fina was the source for the article, Ms. Kane declared ‘war’ on Mr. Fina and those she associated with him, including Agent Carlson and Agent Cranga.”

That war included denying the men promotions, then sweeping them up in the “Porngate” scandal, in which they say Kane damaged reputations of a disfavored few, while protecting the reputations of others — like her sister — who were also involved in swapping inappropriate emails.

They ask for the promotions they were denied, as well as unspecified further damages.

See the full complaint below:

Wilt Chamberlain’s High School Coach Sues Video Companies Over Documentary

Coach Cecil Mosenson (far left) and Wilt Chamberlain (far right) in 1953 Overbrook High School basketball team photo.

Coach Cecil Mosenson (far left) and Wilt Chamberlain (far right) in 1953 Overbrook High School basketball team photo.

Back in the early 1950s, Wilt Chamberlain was just beginning his meteoric rise to fame, starting out as a varsity basketball player for West Philadelphia’s Overbrook High School. And right there with him was the school’s basketball coach, Cecil Mosenson, who would later pen the 2008 book It All Began with Wilt. Now 85 years old, Mosenson, who still lives in Philadelphia, is suing two Los Angeles-based video companies over a documentary he directed about those early days. Read more »

Former String Theory Charter Schools Superintendent Sues for Discrimination

Photo by Gregory Bezanis, courtesy South Philly Review

Photo by Gregory Bezanis, courtesy South Philly Review

In 2012, the readers of the South Philly Review chose Gail Avicolli from the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School (PPACS) as the “Best Principal in South Philly” in the newspaper’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards. Three years later, after a short stint as the superintendent of the school’s corporate parent, String Theory Schools, the beloved 69-year-old administrator has filed a lawsuit against the schools, alleging that she was discriminated against and harassed. Read more »

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