Philadelphia Criminal Law News

March 2012 Archives

Prosecutors Call For Delay of Game in Sandusky Trial

Judge John Cleland approved a three-week delay in the Jerry Sandusky trial today. The move was made to allow more time for investigation and pretrial legal maneuvering.

In addition to the delay, the prosecution filed a response to last week’s pretrial motion filed by the defense. In their motion, the defense claimed that witness Mike McQueary’s testimony about walking in on Sandusky having sex with a young boy in 2002 was insufficient to prove guilt.

Dr. Joseph J. Kubacki Sentenced for Temple Med Fraud

Dr. Joseph J. Kubacki, an assistant dean of medical affairs and chairman of the ophthalmology department, and who was accused of illegal billing and for falsifying charts, was sentenced to seven years in prison for the Temple Med fraud, reports Philadelphia Daily News. In total he was accused of 150 counts of health care fraud and related fraud.

At the hearing where he received his sentence, Dr. Kubacki explained the Temple Med fraud by saying that he wasn't motivated by greed; instead he was trying to save the departments he oversaw. His fraudulent billing scheme lasted about eight years.

Former Cop Jose Santiago Admits to Raping Girls, Blames 'Spirit'

Fifty five-year-old Jose Manuel Santiago, a former Kennett Square police officer, admitted today in court to raping and sexually assaulting four young girls from January 1992 to November 2000. According to ABC 6, he pleaded guilty to three counts of rape, three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and one count of aggravated indecent assault. The girls ranged in age from 9 to 19.

It was alleged that Santiago lured the girls to his home, where they practiced the Caribbean religion Santeria. The religion, as practiced by this individual, involves animal sacrifice, trances for communicating with the gods, and drumming. Santiago would sacrifice animals, light his hands on fire, claim to be possessed by a spirit named Elegua, and then tell the girls that the spirit demanded sex.

The girls, fearing the wrath of Elegua, would then consent to sexual intercourse.

What are the Pennsylvania Stand Your Ground, Castle Doctrine Laws?

People in Philly and all over the country are talking about "stand your ground" laws in the wake of the tragic shooting in Florida of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The conversation has centered on race, gun carry laws and the use of what the accused shooter, George Zimmerman, has claimed was self-defense against the unarmed teen.

But in Pennsylvania, people still remember the local case of a teenager shot in self-defense by an adult and the issue of the newly passed Castle Doctrine law that the case brought up. In December of last year, Zachary Levin and his father confronted his mother's boyfriend with baseball bats after she called saying she had argued with him. During the confrontation, Zachary Levin was shot and killed. At the time, the question of whether it was a justified act of self-defense was raised.

Mom Grows Pot, Sells Through Teen Son's Friends

Suburban mom grows pot, sells it to school children through her son. Sounds like the plot for the cable television show Weeds doesn’t it? They say life imitates art and a suburban Pittsburgh woman was arrested last week for trying to earn some extra cash as a drug dealer.

Forty-six-year-old Jaymee Lutes of Scott Township allegedly had a marijuana grow factory going on in her home, reports The Associated Press. Police say they found lamps to mimic sunlight, six marijuana plants, seeds, and other growing equipment.

Dharun Ravi Guilty of All Charges

Dharun Ravi is guilty on all 15 charges. Ravi faced a variety of charges ranging from invasion of privacy, to bias intimidation (a hate crime), for spying on his roommate and then tweeting to the public to watch his roommate secretly have sexual relations with another man. He was found guilty of all of them.

The story made national headlines as his roommate, Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, found out about the spying and tweets and many believe this humiliation contributed to his decision to end his life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

Two Teens Killed by AK47 While Riding Stolen ATV

Early this week, two neighborhood teens were out for a joyride in their North Philadelphia neighborhood. They apparently stole a four-wheel ATV and were riding around the neighborhood shortly before 8:00 p.m. For unknown reasons, the two were then mowed down by a fully automatic AK47 and killed in a hail of bullets in the ATV shooting.

These were the 68th and 69th murders of Philadelphia so far this year. The good news is that this is down from the 75 murders at this same point last year, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

So is Philly the Murder Capital or the City of Brotherly Love?

You or Someone You Know is Likely Going to Court

A FindLaw courtroom survey found that nearly four out of every ten Americans will have spent time in court.

While we write a lot about outrageous crimes on this blog like murder and shootings, the fact is that crime makes up a relatively small percentage of reasons why people go to court (7%). Instead, you're much more likely to experience the inside of a courtroom for a traffic violation (18%) or family law issue like divorce (11%).

Defense Rests Case, Dharun Ravi Not to Testify

After almost two weeks, the Dharun Ravi trial is coming to an end. Testimony was heard from about 30 witnesses in the webcam spying of Tyler Clementi including testimony from other students, Rutgers officials, and the man Clementi was having relations with.

One person the jury will not be hearing from is Ravi himself.

Dharun Ravi’s lawyer rested his case on Monday without calling Ravi to testify. The lawyer said that he didn’t think there was anything to gain from having his client speak directly in court, reports The Associated Press.

Freddie Mitchell Accused of Tax Fraud Scheme

Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell's claims to fame were one catch he made in the playoffs against the Packers in 2004 and his close personal friendship with the actor who played Steve Urkel. Now FredEx has been linked to a tax fraud scheme, and he could be imprisoned for a very long time if convicted.

The Freddie Mitchell tax fraud scheme alleges that the former football player recruited professional athletes to have their taxes prepared by a business run by Jamie Russ-Walls and Richard Walls of Bensalem, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

Don't Need a PlayStation to Play Grand Theft Auto

A group of teens allegedly stole a school bus from a bus driver's driveway before abandoning the vehicle at the intersection of Sergeant and Jasper Streets in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.

For the Philadelphia school bus theft, the bus driver's daughter said the teens deserve a "whupping." They could get that and auto theft charges as well.

Terrell Owens' Child Support Debt Could Send Him to Jail

How quickly the mighty fall. Not too long ago, the Philadelphia sports scene was dominated by Allen Iverson and Terrell Owens. Today, both former stars are facing serious financial troubles and are making news for all the wrong reasons. In fact, Terrell Owens’ child support problems could even land the former all-pro wide receiver in jail.

The parallels between Allen Iverson and Terrell Owens are uncanny. Both had big games and big attitudes. Both had pro careers that ended with a whimper when the still-productive players were unwanted by every team. Now both players are trying to make a comeback by playing in the minor leagues, presumably for both the love of the game, and financial need.

Do we have the makings of a Jerry Sandusky lite? The Jenkintown School District athletic director Mark Citron was arrested for having sexual relations with a teenage student back in 2010.

The 43-year-old athletic director from Philadelphia allegedly had the relationship with a 17-year-old female student over the course of six months inside his office at the high school. On at least one of the encounters the two had sexual intercourse, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.