UPDATE: Philly Cops Charged With Robbing, Extorting Drug Dealers

Updated with comment from police, district attorney.

[Update 1:14 p.m.] Philly Police have released an official announcement, along with photos of each officer:



The press release:

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
Linwood Norman – 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.

“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.” …… Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey

The office of District Attorney Seth Williams also sent out a press release:

Today, United States Attorney Zane Memeger announced the indictment of six Philadelphia Narcotics Officers-Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser- for numerous federal charges.

Two years ago, in 2012, the District Attorney’s Office notified the Philadelphia Police Department that, as a matter of prosecutorial discretion, it would no longer rely on testimony from Officers Liciardello, Reynolds, Spicer, Betts, and Speiser. As a result, there are no open active cases involving these officers.

Now that the federal investigation has been completed, the District Attorney’s Office will review previous convictions involving thesix officers and will take appropriate action.
When a decision is made on these cases the District Attorney’s Office will notify the public and the press.

The Office is now reviewing cases involving Officer Norman from the relevant time period.

[Update 11:10 am]

6ABC reports:

Six Philadelphia narcotics officers have been arrested on corruption charges.

The 26 count federal indictment alleges that the officers with abused their positions to rob and extort suspected drug dealers and falsified police reports to cover up their alleged activity.

The indictment identifies the officers as Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, John Speiser and Linwood Norman.



Last year, PhillyMag reported on a lawsuit filed against officers named in today’s indictment: The federal lawsuit was “filed by Warren Layre and Michael Tierney, co-owners of a Philly auto shop, who say police knocked in Layre’s teeth and robbed him of $34,000 during a 2011 raid.”

Here is the indictment itself:

[Original] Federal authorities arrested six Philadelphia cops this morning, part of a long-running corruption probe into the Police Department’s narcotics unit. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it would reveal charges at 11 a.m. today.

The Inquirer reports:

Questions have dogged their work since at least 2012, when District Attorney Seth Williams said his office no longer trusted their testimony in drug cases, a decision that led to the dismissal of hundreds of prior arrests.

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.

Commissioner Charles Ramsey acknowledged the probe seven months ago. One officer, Jeffrey Walker, already pleaded to federal robbery and weapons charges in February and was said to be cooperating with prosecutors against his old comrades.