Busted Is a Philadelphia Classic


Over the weekend, I finally got around to reading Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love, the March book by the Daily News Pulitzer-winning team of Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker. What a great book.

It’s an easy, breezy read — Philly Mag’s review called it a “captivating story” — but that’s not to say it’s insubstantial. Indeed, the narrative of how the two reported their “Tainted Justice” series of articles on police corruption for the paper deserves to take its place among the great works that have come to define Philadelphia in the popular mind — everything from Rocky to A Prayer for the City.

Three reasons you should read this book if you love Philadelphia: Read more »

Un-Corrupting Philly’s Police Department


Philly’s police now have a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prove that they are on the side of the city’s citizens. They will almost certainly blow their chance.

The opportunity comes in the form of startling news that the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board last week struck down a substantial portion of the internal disciplinary code implemented by Commissioner Charles Ramsey in 2010. The board says the code should’ve been negotiated with the Fraternal Order of Police; the FOP says it would’ve welcomed such negotiations.

“The FOP is nothing if not reasonable,*” said union lawyer Thomas W. Jennings. “We’d much rather talk to them than litigate.”

*Try not to spit out your coffee.

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Payouts from Civil Rights Lawsuits Against Philadelphia Cops Soar

Philadelphia paid out $14 million in civil rights lawsuits in 2013, the Daily News’ Dana DiFilippo and David Gambacorta reported Thursday. The figure in 2012 was $8.6 million. Five years ago, it was just $4.2 million.

“Based on my experience, the Police Department fails to follow a strict and non-negotiable discipline process,” Robert Levant, who won a $2.5 million judgement against the city for a client last year, told the paper. “The rank and file have no expectation that their behavior is ever going to be subject to any real, meaningful review.”

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“Tainted Justice” Police Officer Fired. Will It Take?

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has fired Jeffrey Cujdik — the narcotics squad officer who was at the heart of the Daily NewsPulitzer-winning “Tainted Justice” series — just weeks after officials announced no charges would be brought in the case. Three other narcotics squad officers are keeping their jobs, but will be temporarily suspended, then transferred from the narcotics squad.

One question: Will Cujdik stay fired? That’s not a sure thing: NBC Philadelphia reported last year that an arbitrator had reversed nine out of every 10 firings that Ramsey had made for cause — it’s really hard to lose your job as a police officer in Philadelphia. Three reasons to be skeptical, then, that Cujdik’s firing means he’s leaving the squad:

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Uncharged Officers Could Still Face Police Discipline

Newsworks reports that Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey may still take disciplinary action against narcotics officers who have been accused of corruption, but who will not — it was revealed last week — face charges on the allegations.

The department’s Internal Affairs Bureau has notified the officers it has sustained allegations against them.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says he could take direct action against the officers, after a 10-day window for a response is over.

“The decision is made by me on disciplinary action,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t do it too often, I do it on occasion. It’s something that I will consider in this case, but there is another course that it could take, and that is the police board of inquiry.”

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Cops in Pulitzer-Winning ‘Tainted Justice’ Series Won’t Face Charges

dailynews Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman won the 2010 Pulitzer for a series, called Tainted Justice, in the Daily News. The duo was awarded the prize by the Pulitzer jury “for their resourceful reporting that exposed a rogue police narcotics squad, resulting in an FBI probe and the review of hundreds of criminal cases tainted by the scandal.”

The stories detailed the tales of several Philadelphia convenience store owners who all told the same story: Philadelphia narcotics cops entered their stores, cut the wires to security cameras and stole several thousands of dollars, food and merchandise. Three women said they were sexually assaulted. The stories recently became a book, A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love, that has since been optioned for TV.

The FBI probe and case review appears to be all that will happen as a result of the stories, as federal and local prosecutors declined to charge the five police officers under investigtion. The Inquirer’s Aubrey Whelan and Mike Newall report that, while the police officers face an internal review, they are likely to return to the force. (One has since retired.) Sources told the Inquirer the case suffered from “weak witnesses and a lack of evidence.”

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Police Marine Unit Pulls Body from the Schuylkill

According to the Philadelphia Police Department, the marine unit recovered a body from the Schuylkill River Friday afternoon.

No identity has been released, though lieutenant John Stanford in the department’s public affairs office says the body of a white male was pulled from the river near the Walnut Street bridge.

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Philly Cop Edward Sawicki III Charged With Making Threats and Harassment

edward-sawicki-philly-cop-charged-threats-2On Wednesday, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office announced that it had charged Philadelphia police officer Edward Sawicki III with simple assault, harassment, disorderly conduct, and making terroristic threats stemming from an October 2013 incident in South Philadelphia.

According to a statement by the DA’s office, Sawicki, who is 34, was off-duty at the time of the altercation. Sawicki lives in Northeast Philadelphia.

Sawicki turned himself into police on Wednesday.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has suspended Sawicki for 30 days and intends to fire him. Of course, we all know how complicated firing a Philadelphia police officer can be.

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