Philadelphia Criminal Law News

May 2011 Archives

Clerk Mustafa Shakur Killed During Robbery in North Philly

A convenience store clerk was shot to death by robbers at the Trax Foods store under the Girard Avenue station of the Market-Frankford El, according to Philadelphia police. The robbery occurred in the early morning hours of Thursday, May 26, and ended with clerk Mustafa Shakur, 50, shot in the face by one of the two intruders. Police are still looking for the suspects.

Police had thought initially that Shakur, who speaks English, might not have understood the demands of the robbers, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. However, upon a review of the surveillance tapes, police now believe that Shakur may have understood a robbery was taking place, but may not have moved fast enough.

Philadelphia Mobsters Indicted for Racketeering, Loan Sharking

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It's not quite The Sopranos come back to life, but it's close. On Monday, May 23, federal officials announced indictments against several alleged members of La Cosa Nostra in Philadelphia for gambling, racketeering, loan sharking and other crimes. Included in the indictment were Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, alleged to be the head of the local mob, and other "high-ranking" mob members. Thirteen total alleged mobsters were included, eleven arrested on Monday, two already behind bars on other charges.

U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said the arrests were "the largest enforcement action in a decade against La Cosa Nostra" in Philadelphia, reported Reuters. The allegations in the indictment also claim Ligambi, along with Anthony "Ant" Staino Jr. and another alleged mobster, Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, ran illegal electronic gambling operations, including video poker. The illegal machines could be found in bars, restaurants, convenience stores and coffee shops throughout Philadelphia and surrounding areas.

Francis Murphy Waives Preliminary Hearing In Solicitation Case

Former Archbishop Carroll High School athletic director Francis Murphy, 39, waived a preliminary hearing on charges of involving solicitation of sex from a former student, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. During the short hearing in Bridgeport, Murphy remained quiet with his defense attorneys William J. Winning and Timothy Woodward.

A preliminary hearing is often described as a "trial before the trial," according to FindLaw. At this stage of a criminal case, the judge determines whether there is enough evidence to force the defendant to stand trial. The judge uses the legal standard of "probable cause" to decide if the government has gathered enough evidence to even convince a jury that the defendant committed a crime.

Philly Rapper Cassidy Arrested For Probation Violation

Police reported Philadelphia rap star Cassidy, whose original name is Barry Reese, was arrested once again, this time on charges involving a probation violation. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the rapper was placed under probation after he was convicted of manslaughter in Philly in 2005.

Cassidy, a Cedarbrook native best known for his 2005 single “I’m a Hustla,” was charged with murder in 2005 for the death of 22-year-old Desmond Hawkins, said authorities. The rap artist was also charged for the attempted murder of two other men during a shooting in an alley located behind Cassidy’s home on Bayard Street.

James Troutman Charged With Murder And Rape In 9-Year-Old's Death

Authorities have arrested James Lee Troutman, 36, for allegedly strangling and raping 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman, whose body was found inside a dumpster at an apartment building in a suburb in Philadelphia. Troutman was charged with 10 criminal counts as a result of Kauffman’s death, and police said he even “admitted he choked Skyler to death with his hands.”

Reuters reported Troutman was neighbors with the Kaufmann, and before her death, officials said she and a friend had gone into his apartment once after asking to use the restroom. But the pair then quickly left his home when they saw that the apartment was covered with pictures of naked women.

Yvette Saunders Killed In Drive-by Shooting Before Mother's Day

North Philadelphia resident Yvette Saunders, 39, was killed the day before Mother's Day in a drive-by shooting outside the home of Juanita Sumpter-Kirby, her sister, while trying to protect her 18-year-old son, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Saunder's daughter, Ciara Hardin, was on her way home when she heard shots being fire and then witnessed her mother fall to the ground. Saunders was then taken to the hospital, but died within hours of her arrival.

5 Men Arrested After Beating Victim Over Stolen iPhone

Upper Darby police reported a man used a tracking system to find his stolen iPhone but also ended up gathering four of his friends together to beat the guy they thought took his phone. However, the Philadelphia Daily News reported the five men had actually attacked the wrong person.

But rather than apologize to the victim, Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said the assailants just continued to beat him and then snatched his wallet. The men were eventually arrested and charged with assault, robbery, and other related offenses, and each was also imprisoned in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Drive-by Shooting In North Philadelphia Kills 1, Injures 1

A drive-by shooting at a basketball court in North Philadelphia killed one man and left another injured, reported the Philadelphia Daily News. Police said two unidentified men in a burgundy car initiated gunfire at the Whittier Playground on 27th and Clearfield Streets, next to the John Whittier Elementary School.

A 25-year-old man was shot twice, once in the chest and again on his left side. Authorities said the victim was pronounced dead after he was taken to the Temple University Hospital, while the second victim, a 19-year-old, had a gunshot wound on his left calf but remains in stable condition.