Sources: Scandal-Plagued Former Philly Cop in Custody
Anthony Magsam, an ex-Philadelphia police officer who was entangled in a controversial scandal that made headlines five years ago, was brought into police custody early today, multiple law enforcement sources have told Philadelphia magazine.
The development comes just a week after Lt. Vincent Testa apparently died by suicide after learning that he was going to be arrested as part of a local grand jury investigation into a bizarre controversy that largely revolved around Magsam.
Magsam, the sources said, was being held at the 15th District’s headquarters on Levick Street near Harbison Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia. The District Attorney’s Office declined to comment this morning.
Seven years ago, Magsam worked in the Police Department’s Firearms Identifications Unit. His coworkers alerted Internal Affairs after they believed that he had allegedly stolen automatic weapons parts. The Internal Affairs investigation seemingly stalled for more than a year.
Magsam’s colleagues suspected there was an attempted cover-up; his mother, Barbara Feeney, was a longtime police supervisor who was married to Michael Feeney, a retired police chief inspector.
In the wake of the alleged theft, Magsam was transferred from the unit, but never faced any internal discipline — or criminal charges, for that matter. But when the allegations were detailed in a series of stories in the Daily News in 2011, then-Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey moved to fire Magsam, who instead quit the force.
Ramsey asked the U.S. Department of Justice to audit the unit in the wake of the scandal, and also invited the FBI to evaluate the incident. The DOJ audit found that eight weapons could not be accounted for. At least 51 guns were seized during a SWAT raid on Magsam’s house in 2011, but the weapons were believed to have been legally owned. A handful of other guns were recovered, too, but Ramsey at the time said there wasn’t enough evidence to conclusively prove if those weapons had been taken from the FIU.
Ramsey ultimately doled out a wave of suspensions to supervisors — including Testa — in response to the case, and removed an inspector from Internal Affairs. Testa ended up being reassigned to Nicetown’s 39th District, but was recently sent to Differential Police Response, a unit often staffed by cops who are under investigation.
Police Commissioner Richard Ross told Philadelphia magazine last week that he only recently learned that Testa was under investigation, and was surprised to hear the veteran cop was going to be arrested. In the aftermath of Testa’s death, many of his former coworkers wondered if the grand jury was targeting others linked to the old scandal.
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