Narcotics Cops Found Not Guilty on All Counts

Acquitted on all counts of corruption and shaking down drug dealers.

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The six former Philadelphia Police officers accused of shaking down drug dealers have been found not guilty on all counts in their federal trial.

The officers — Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, John Speiser and Linwood Norman — were part of the narcotics unit in the Philadelphia Police Department. All had been charged with RICO conspiracy. Some were individually charged with conspiracy to deprive of civil rights, deprivation of civil rights, robbery which interferes with interstate commerce, extortion which interferes with interstate commerce, carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, possession with intent to distribute over 500 grams of cocaine, and falsification of records in a federal investigation.

Commissioner Charles Ramsey called the case “one of the worst cases of police corruption I have ever seen.”

The weeks-long trial featured testimony from numerous admitted drug dealers who said the Narcotics Unit had — in various cases — taken their money or threatened them with violence. One of their former colleagues — Officer Jeffrey Walkerconfirmed that testimony, but only after pleading guilty to his own set of corruption charges.

But defense attorneys made the case that in a he-said-she-said case of police officers versus confirmed criminals, the honesty of the criminals should be held in doubt.

“Is it reasonable to doubt the word of immoral, despicable people?” defense attorney Jack McMahon asked at closing arguments. “If you don’t have reason to doubt, then you haven’t been listening.”

“We are disappointed but respect the jury’s decision,” said United States Attorney Zane David Memeger in a prepared statement. “We stand by our case and we will not be deterred from prosecuting cases of police corruption in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.”