Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category

STING CATCHES IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT AGENT STEALING FROM DEPORTEES

March 3, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (March 3, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that he charged U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Justin Ford with Theft by Unlawful Taking, Receiving Stolen Property, Official Oppression, and Conspiracy.
Ford was apprehended in a joint operation by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Dangerous Drug Offender’s Unit, Philadelphia Police Department, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General, and the Middle and Eastern Districts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Pennsylvania.
“What Mr. Ford did was deplorable, it wasn’t the first time he stole from deportees, and so he will be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said District Attorney Williams. “I’d like to thank the hard working members of the Philadelphia Police Department, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, the Middle and Eastern Districts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the dedicated men and women of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for working together to get this bad officer off the streets.”
On February 24, 2015, Agent Ford and his partner met with Philadelphia Police to take a prisoner, who was actually an undercover Philadelphia Police Officer assigned to the District Attorney’s Office, into custody. Agent Ford’s partner searched the prisoner and found $2,000 in marked bills. Then, once alone with the prisoner, Agent Ford repeatedly asked the prisoner about the money and when the under agent could not verify the amount, Agent Ford returned most of the money to the prisoner.
The intake officer at the York County Prison received the money taken from the undercover officer and turned it over to DHS investigators, who confirmed that $200 was missing. Agent Ford was followed back to Philadelphia and was taken into custody by members of the Philadelphia Police SWAT unit who found the two, marked $100 bills in his possession.
Justin Ford, whose bail was set at $25,000, was born in August of 1983.

###

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY FILES PETITION IN PA SUPREME COURT AGAINST PA GOVERNOR WOLF’S UNCONSTITUTIONAL DEATH PENALTY “REPRIEVE”

February 18, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Feb.18, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that he has petitioned the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reject Governor Tom Wolf’s recent death penalty “reprieve” because it is an unconstitutional takeover of powers that belong to the legislature, the courts, and the pardons board – and because it sends a troubling message to the victims of crime and the citizens of Pennsylvania.

“Just weeks ago, Governor Wolf took an oath to faithfully execute his duties in accordance with the constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Williams. “Our constitution does not allow the governor to satisfy his own personal opinions by halting a capital murderer’s sentence that was authorized by state statute, imposed by a unanimous Philadelphia jury, and upheld by state and federal courts.”

Unlike some states, Pennsylvania does not grant the Governor unlimited at-will power to issue a moratorium or pardon or commute any sentence of death or punishment.

Article IV, § 9 (a) of the Pennsylvania constitution states that “…no pardon shall be granted, nor sentence commuted, except on the recommendation in writing of a majority of the Board of Pardons, and, in the case of a sentence of death or life imprisonment, on the unanimous recommendation in writing of the Board of Pardons, after full hearing in open session, upon due public notice.”

Reprieves, like the one issued by the Governor for convicted murderer Terrance Williams, are designed to be limited in their duration and purpose. They exist to temporarily permit the examination of last-minute evidence or legal claims. But as the Governor himself acknowledged, there are no new claims in the case of Terrance Williams.

Terrance Williams has exhausted all of his appeals, including those to the Pennsylvania and United States Supreme Courts. He committed robberies and burglaries, broke into the home of an elderly woman on Christmas Eve with a rifle and threatened to blow her “f—ing head off,” and brutally bludgeoned to death two gay men so he could steal their belongings.

District Attorney Williams’ full filing with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is attached.

###

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S STATEMENT ON DEATH PENALTY MORATORIUM ANNOUNCEMENT

February 18, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 13, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Wolf’s announcement declaring a death penalty “moratorium” in Pennsylvania:

The people who are most grateful for this “moratorium” on capital punishment are the guiltiest, cruelest, most vicious killers on death row. Most other murderers do not get the death penalty, and if they did they will likely have the sentence reversed on appeal.

Terrance Williams must be one of those grateful killers today. He is one of the few capital murderers in Pennsylvania who has lost all his appeals, all the way up to both the Pennsylvania and United States Supreme Courts. And there is not a shred of doubt about his guilt. Even his own lawyers don’t claim he is innocent.

I am weary of this murderer’s effort to portray himself as a victim. He has committed robberies and burglaries, he has broken into the home of an elderly woman in the middle of the night, on Christmas Eve, put a rifle muzzle to her neck, and threatened to blow her “f—ing head off,” and he has brutally bludgeoned to death two older gay men in order to steal their belongings. These were not spontaneous crimes of “rage.” He planned each one in advance, he made careful efforts to cover up his involvement, and he made sure to profit.
The power to issue a reprieve exists to permit examination of last-minute evidence or legal claims that could not otherwise be reviewed. But there are no new claims here; they have been examined and reviewed and ruled on, over and over and over again. The reprieve is unlawful.

If the governor wants to be a man of his convictions, he should debate this issue publicly and try to persuade the legislature and the people to change the law. But he has no moral or legal right to nullify judicial rulings and legislative statutes. The governor’s action today was an injustice to the citizens of this state, who support the death penalty in limited and appropriate cases, to the judges who have conscientiously reviewed this case over two decades, and to victims of crime, who deserve to see justice carried out as the laws provide.

###

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY WELCOMES CAMERON L. KLINE AS NEW COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR AND SPOKESPERSON

February 9, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 9, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced that Cameron L. Kline will begin serving as his new Communications Director and Spokesperson.

“I’d like to officially welcome Cameron to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office,” said Williams. “Cameron not only brings with him a wealth of communications experience – from neighborhood to non-profit and from political to corporate – to the job, but he is a consummate professional who understands the City of Philadelphia and our amazing neighborhoods.”

Before joining the district attorney’s office, Kline was State Senator Larry Farnese’s (D-Phila.) Communications Director and Senior Advisor. Prior to joining the senator’s office, he was the Press Secretary for State Treasurer Rob McCord’s campaign for Governor of Pennsylvania and the Communications Director for the Philadelphia Gas Works. He has also worked for PECO and the School District of Philadelphia.
Cameron, who lives with his partner in South Philadelphia, has a Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois, is a current Board Member for the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club and brought national attention to the Boy Scouts of America’s discriminatory policies when he returned his Eagle Scout medal in 2013.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million citizens of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives and support staff. It is organized into seven divisions: Executive/Administration, Trials, Pre-Trial, Investigations, Juvenile Law, and Special Operations. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for prosecution of over 75,000 criminal cases annually. The main office of the Philadelphia District Attorney is located in Center City Philadelphia at The Widener Building, Three South Penn Square. The Juvenile Court and Child Support Unit are located at 1501 Arch Street, and the Private Criminal Complaint Unit is located at 1425 Arch Street. Additionally, the Charging Unit is staffed around the clock in The Widener Building.

###

Philadelphia District Attorney Charges Two Philadelphia Police Officers After Grand Jury Investigation

February 6, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 5, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams, following a lengthy Grand Jury and Police Internal Affairs Division (IAD) investigation, today charged Philadelphia Police Officers Sean McKnight and Kevin Robinson for the beating, in addition to other charges, of Najee Rivera.
“This type of behavior has absolutely no place in our city and I will prosecute these two officers to the fullest extent of the law. Simply put, no one – not even police officers – is above the law,” said District Attorney Williams. “Commissioner Ramsey and his team have been very supportive in this investigation and, like him, I hope these charges send a clear message to every Philadelphian that we intend to use every tool available to us to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe.”
The full list of charges against both officers include: Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Criminal Conspiracy, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Tampering with Public Records or Information, False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities, Obstructing Administration of Law, and Official Oppression.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey joined the District Attorney for the announcement.
Around 10 p.m. on May 29, 2013, near North 7th and Somerset Sts., Officers McKnight, a seven year veteran of the force, and Robinson, a six year veteran of the force, both of the 25th Police District pulled over Najee Rivera on his motor scooter. Rivera became frightened, drove away and was chased by the officers who broke procedure by not using their lights and sirens during the pursuit. At the 2700 block of North 6th St. a business’ surveillance camera captured the officers drive up to Rivera and knock him off his scooter. Both officers then exited their police car, grabbed and repeatedly struck Rivera with their fists and baton while Rivera, who received a fractured orbital bone and numerous lacerations to his head, cries out in pain.
While Rivera was at the hospital, McKnight and Robinson submitted police paperwork and inaccurate statements to the Philadelphia Police Department by falsely accusing Rivera of assaulting Robinson and Resisting Arrest. Based on the false allegations, Rivera was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault and related offenses. Eventually the charges against Rivera were withdrawn after the video evidence of the attack was reviewed by prosecutors.
Today, Officers McKnight and Robinson will be processed and arraigned. A copy of the Grand Jury presentment and photographs of Officers McKnight and Robinson and Rivera are attached.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million citizens of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives and support staff. It is organized into seven divisions: Executive/Administration, Trials, Pre-Trial, Investigations, Juvenile Law, and Special Operations. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for prosecution of over 75,000 criminal cases annually. The main office of the Philadelphia District Attorney is located in Center City Philadelphia at The Widener Building, Three South Penn Square. The Juvenile Court and Child Support Unit are located at 1501 Arch Street, and the Private Criminal Complaint Unit is located at 1425 Arch Street. Additionally, the Charging Unit is staffed around the clock in The Widener Building.

###

Philadelphia Police Officer Charged With False Identification to Law Enforcement Authorities

February 2, 2015

February 2, 2015: Philadelphia- Today, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office charged 28-year-old Brandon Ruff, a Philadelphia Police Sergeant, with one count of False Identification to Law Enforcement Authorities, 18 Pa.C.S. § 4914.

The allegations are that on August 3, 2014, Sgt. Ruff, then assigned to the 16th District, arrived at the 35th District headquarters in civilian clothing carrying a bag containing three handguns that he asked to surrender.  When Sgt. Ruff responded to an officer’s inquiry that the guns were not his, police began to investigate in order to determine whether any of the guns were stolen or had been used in a crime.  Sgt. Ruff informed the officer that the guns came from a family member and he knew nothing else about them.

When a second police officer went to retrieve the guns, she asked Sgt. Ruff for his name and date of birth in order to record the interaction.  Sgt. Ruff responded with the alias “Ryan Jones” and a fabricated date of birth.

Sgt. Ruff began to get agitated and began to leave the building.  Once outside, other officers from the 35th District stopped him and observed a bulge in his waistband that a search revealed to be his privately-owned handgun.  Sgt. Ruff continued to refuse requests for identification and his permit to carry that handgun.

Once back inside the building, a police officer conducted a more thorough search and discovered Sgt. Ruff’s police identification.  All three guns came back to different owners, with one having been reported stolen out of South Philadelphia in 2010.

 ###

Grand Jury Investigation into a Philadelphia Police Officer

January 27, 2015

January 22, 2015: Today, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams charged former Philadelphia Homicide Detective Ronald Dove with Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution, Obstructing Administration of Law, Tampering with Physical Evidence, Unsworn Falsification, Flight to Avoid Apprehension, and, Criminal Conspiracy.  His accomplice, Erica Sanchez has been charged with Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution, Obstructing Administration of Law, Tampering with Physical Evidence, Flight to Avoid Apprehension, and, Criminal Conspiracy.  The arrests of Dove and Sanchez come after a lengthy Grand Jury and Police Internal Affairs Division (IAD) investigation.

 

At 2:01 PM on Sunday, September 8, 2013, Philadelphia police received a report of a body found at 3312 N. 5th St. in the city of Philadelphia. Within minutes, police reached the scene and found the body of Cesar Vera in an after-hours club lying in a pool of his own blood. Mr. Vera had a single stab wound to the chest – that had penetrated through his heart – killing him within minutes of the stabbing. The homicide Detectives who responded to the scene quickly identified the name of a suspect – Erica Sanchez.  Sanchez would remain the sole suspect in the homicide of Cesar Vera until her surrender to police on October 16, 2013. Despite extensive efforts, homicide Detectives were never able to find, question or detain Erica Sanchez before that date because one of their own was assisting her in avoiding responsibility for her conduct.

 

Unbeknownst to the Homicide Detectives – indeed, unbeknownst to the Philadelphia Police Department – one of their own members, Homicide Detective Ronald Dove, had been with Erica Sanchez after the death of Cesar Vera. Over the hours, days and weeks following the murder, while homicide Detectives searched for Erica Sanchez, Detective Dove knew exactly where she was and how to contact her. He actively shielded her, hid her and failed to disclose material evidence and facts to his fellow police officers.

The Grand Jury found that on the morning of the murder of Cesar Vera, Sanchez, still stained with the blood of Vera, called Detective Dove and sought his help.  Dove responded and went to pick her up.  Within a short time he began to call various national hotel chains, before the police department even knew a homicide had occurred.  When the body was discovered that afternoon, notice was sent out to all homicide detectives, including Dove.  Once the body was discovered, Dove quickly sought to contact Sanchez.  Soon after that contact, both Dove and Sanchez stopped use of her cell phones.  Dove spent that evening with Sanchez, and checked in with his supervisor, failing to mention that he was at that very moment with the prime murder suspect.

The next day, as corroborated by toll records and video, Dove drove Sanchez from Philadelphia to Rochester, New York, where he checked her into a Holiday Inn, for which he paid.  He bought her a new cell phone, a Tracfone, which is particularly difficult to trace.  He left her hidden in New York and came back to work in Philadelphia, where his own colleagues were still trying to locate the suspect.

Meanwhile, Dove had undertaken a campaign to actively mislead other law enforcement personnel and protect the suspect.  The night of the murder, Dove called a fellow detective to fish for information about the progress of the investigation.  In later conversations, he eventually revealed that he knew Sanchez and repeatedly insisted that the killing must have been in self-defense.

Dove also spoke with the lead detective assigned to the case.  He urged his colleague to conduct only “a light interview” of Sanchez, and again insisted that the killing must have been in self-defense.

Dove also reached out to the chief of the homicide unit in the District Attorney’s office.  As with the detectives, he told her that he knew someone who was involved in a homicide, but insisted that it must have been self-defense.

Each of these individuals made clear to Dove that, if he came to possess any information about the case, it was of course his duty to report it immediately.  Dove promised he would, but he was lying.  He never told any of them that he knew exactly where Sanchez was hiding out, and that he himself had set it up.

Two weeks after the murder, Dove returned to New York – not to bring the suspect in, but to take her on a little vacation.  They spent the weekend at Niagara Falls, touring the sites and taking pictures.  Dove then brought Sanchez back to Rochester, checked her into a different hotel, and returned to his job in the homicide unit as if nothing had happened.

Not until October 1, three weeks after the murder, did Dove finally give a statement to investigators, but it was full of inaccurate statements.  He said nothing about his contact with Sanchez immediately after the murder, he hid the fact that he had spirited her out of the jurisdiction, and he failed to mention that he had disposed of her car and phone.

Dove’s actions and inactions from the early morning hours of September 8th to the date of Sanchez’s arrest on October 16, 2013 for the murder of Cesar Vera, constituted a concerted effort to prevent, harm and damage law enforcement efforts to solve the murder.  Dove’s actions prevented the collection and preservation of important evidence (such as the clothes worn by Erica Sanchez on the day of the homicide, finger nail scrapings, DNA, hair samples, a timely forensic exam of her car, recovery of the murder weapon, etc.) that was available on the day of the homicide (September 8th).  In addition, his actions prevented police from obtaining physical custody of Erica Sanchez.

 

###

Two Pennsylvania Lawmakers Charged with Bribery

December 17, 2014

December 16, 2014: Today, District Attorney Seth Williams charged State Representatives Ronald Waters and Vanessa Lowery Brown with Criminal Conspiracy, Bribery in Official and Political Matters, Conflict of Interest, and Failure to Make Required Disclosures in Statement of Financial Interests for accepting money in exchange for promised political actions.
The arrests of 64 year old Ron Waters and 48 year old Vanessa L. Brown are the result of a grand jury investigation into political corruption involving various Pennsylvania state legislators, public officials and other related individuals. The matter was submitted to a Philadelphia investigating grand jury after it was requested from the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General (“OAG”) in April of 2014. This grand jury investigation is still on-going.

The OAG had conducted its political corruption investigation from 2010 through 2012, which resulted in 113 recorded meetings or conversations. Twenty six (26) of those recordings featured Rep. Ron Waters, who accepted nine (9) cash payments from the CI totaling $8,750. Twenty four (24) of those recordings featured State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, who accepted five (5) cash payments totaling $4,000. That evidence was presented to the grand jury, which found that the cash payments were made because of the representatives’ official positions and their promises to perform official acts on behalf of the CI. Moreover, both representatives testified before the Grand Jury and admitted to their criminal conduct.

Rep. Waters, who has been a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since 1999 and is currently the Secretary for the House Democratic Caucus, accepted payments from the CI beginning on October 22, 2010. In total, Rep. Waters took $8,750 from the CI, and took or promised to take the following official actions on behalf of the CI: voting “no” on House Bill 934; setting up – and attending – a meeting with an executive at the Philadelphia Parking Authority regarding a collections contract there; and contacting an elected official to help the CI’s friend obtain a job. Rep. Waters testified before the grand jury and admitted to this conduct, and acknowledged that he knew what he was doing was wrong, each time that he did it.

Rep. Brown, who has been a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since 2009, accepted five payments from the CI beginning on February 11, 2011. In total, Rep. Brown took $4,000 from the CI, and took or promised to take the following official actions on behalf of the CI: voting “no” on House Bill 934; supporting privatization of the State Liquor Stores; promising to vote against “Lifeline,” a program offering discounts on phone service for low-income subscribers; setting up – and attending – a meeting with Thomasine Tynes, former President Judge of the Philadelphia Traffic Court, regarding a collections contract there; and setting up a social event with other “like-minded” legislators to help the CI broaden his legislative contacts. She also asked the CI what he gets out of the deal, and was willing to vote as directed by the CI. Rep. Brown testified before the grand jury and admitted to this conduct, and acknowledged that she knew what he was doing was wrong, each time that she did it. She also admitted that she knew there were strings attached to the money she was being given.

In addition to the overwhelming evidence of guilt, including the full admissions of Representatives Brown and Waters, the grand jury examined public criticisms about the investigation. In particular, the grand jury investigated claims that the original investigation was “racist,” that the CI was not credible because of the alleged magnitude of his own criminal case, that the subjects of the investigation were “entrapped,” and that a “comprehensive” review by subsequent state officials found no basis for bringing charges. The grand jury found each of those criticism empty.

Regarding the criticism that the investigation employed racial targeting, the grand jury found that such a claim was simply false. The grand jury heard testimony from numerous individuals, both black and white, both former and current state employees, who were involved in the original investigation. The grand jurors found their testimony to be credible. The grand jury also reviewed extensive documents obtained by subpoena. These internal documents demonstrated that there had never been any factual basis to the claim that the investigation was racially targeted. Finally, a high-ranking officer from the administration of the current attorney general testified under oath that “[t]here is absolutely nothing in the case file that would lead one to believe that” the investigation targeted only African-American legislators or ignored wrongdoing by white legislators. The official also testified that he “never for one second believed” that investigators were directed to conduct such an investigation.

With respect to the CI, the grand jury investigated whether his own charges and their resolution crippled this prosecution. After subpoenaing the files in the CI’s case and hearing testimony from current OAG employees who prosecuted that case, the evidence revealed that the total loss amounted to less than $100,000 – sufficient to provide leverage needed to gain his cooperation, but hardly so extreme as to justify dropping a major political corruption probe at precisely the point where the evidence was complete and compelling. Moreover, the CI was hardly the lynchpin of the case; his actions were thoroughly corroborated by the audio- and video-recordings, and he has been doubly corroborated by the testimony of Representatives Brown and Waters. The grand jury, therefore, found nothing concerning the CI that would undermine charging those caught on the tapes.

The grand jury also examined whether any of the legislators were “entrapped.” To that end, the jurors reviewed investigation documents that were created before any recordings had been made, and heard from investigators about how they proceeded. Most tellingly, Representatives Brown and Waters – and Judge Tynes – testified regarding their introductions to the CI and how he was passed from one public official to another. Finally, the grand jury reviewed a document prepared by the current administration of the OAG, which confirmed these findings. In an email between two high-ranking officials there, one stated that the case had “ample predication,” and that “no legislator was entrapped.” The other high-ranking official agreed. And so did the grand jury, finding no sign of entrapment that would undermine its recommended charges.

Finally, the grand jury looked at a “comprehensive” review of the case conducted by the current administration of the OAG, which supposedly exposed fatal weaknesses that made the case impossible to prosecute. That process was difficult because, despite numerous public references to this allegedly comprehensive review, it had never been shared with the public. And despite numerous requests and subpoenas, the grand jury did not receive the document itself until October 31, 2014, many months after the grand jury began its work, and only after a court order. Indeed, on repeated occasions, the grand jury was assured that it had received all relevant materials, only to receive significant additional materials upon judicial intervention. Each new document dump, of course, indicated that the prior representations had been false.

Nevertheless, the grand jury actually found that it was the review, rather than the underlying investigation, that appeared flawed. The review failed to examine a wealth of internal documents – documents created by and in the possession of the OAG – that contradicted the report’s assumptions. The review also failed to include interviews of agents to the investigation or others whose knowledge would have refuted the report’s preferred conclusions.

In short, the grand jury found nothing in the well-publicized “comprehensive” review that undermined its confidence in the recommended charges. The evidence outlined in the presentment is unusually damning, consisting as it does not only of eyewitness accounts, but of hours of tape recordings, and of detailed admissions by the subjects of the investigation themselves. Indeed, the fact that the subjects of the investigation agreed to testify freely before the grand jury is a testament to the strength of the evidence that had been compiled long before this matter was submitted to this grand jury. That evidence must see the light of day, and criminal charges are just and fair.

Representatives Brown and Waters turned themselves in to authorities this morning and are currently being processed by the Pennsylvania State Police.

Center City Lawyer Charged with Engaging in Sex with 14 Year Old Human Trafficking Victim

November 25, 2014

November 25, 2014: Today, the Philadelphia District Attorneys Office charged 56 year old Brian Meehan of Berwyn with Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Statutory Sexual Assault, Unlawful Contact with a Minor, Corrupting the Morals of a Minor, Indecent Assault, Promoting Prostitution of a Minor, and Patronizing Prostitutes for sexual intercourse with a 14 year old girl. The arrest of Brian Meehan comes after a lengthy Grand Jury and Police Special Victims Unit (SVU) investigation.

In April of 2012, SVU Detectives began investigating a Germantown area man and woman accused of forcing girls into prostitution, one of whom was a 14 year old girl. That girl told police that she had been recruited by the couple to have sex with men for money and that they would beat her and threaten to kill her if she tried to leave them. The couple later admitted to police that this young girl was one of five girls that were being prostituted out of their W. Harvey Street house. The couple was arrested and charged with Human Trafficking, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Statutory Sexual Assault, Unlawful Contact with a Minor, Corrupting the Morals of a Minor, Indecent Assault, and Promoting Prostitution of a Minor. The grand jury investigation into this couple is still under investigation, and therefore the names of the couple are not being made public at this time.

The 14 year old victim in this case was taken on multiple “out-calls” to engage in prostitution. An “out-call” is when a girl is taken to a person’s home or place of business to engage in sexual activity with a “john”. The 14 year old victim in this case was taken to “out-calls” at the defendant’s place of employment- a Center City law firm at One Penn Center- several times where he engaged in sex with her for money.

During testimony to the Grand Jury, the 14 year old victim was able to describe Meehan’s office and the interactions she had with him in the office. She testified that Meehan engaged in vaginal and oral intercourse with her on several occasions. She also testified that Meehan told her he knew that she was only 14 years old, that he liked younger girls, and that the youngest girl he had sex with was a 12 year old.

On October 10, 2014, SVU detectives executed a search of Meehan’s 1617 JFK Boulevard office and recovered forensic materials consistent with sexual acts occurring in there.

Brian Meehan turned himself in to authorities this morning, and he is currently being processed by police.

Timeline of Events with the 14 year old victim

She meets the couple near her Germantown neighborhood in March of 2012
The couple recruits her and then forces into prostitution
She works in Philadelphia for a month
She is then sold to a man in Camden, NJ for several hundred dollars
While in Camden she is brought to the hospital in April of 2012 for severe vaginal pain and trauma
She leaves the hospital and is returned to the Germantown couple
She is recruited by another pimp who convinces her to travel with him to Georgia
She is in Georgia for approximately a year, that is when Federal authorities identified her as a victim of human trafficking
Philadelphia investigators are able to meet with the victim in March of 2014, and that is when they began the investigation of Brian Meehan
• November 25, 2014, Brian Meehan is arrested by

Statement from District Attorney Seth Williams about Charges Being Dropped Against Tomayo McDuffy

November 20, 2014

November 20, 2014: “Today my office withdrew charges against Tomayo McDuffy that arose from an alleged home invasion last year in Northeast Philadelphia. Although the original charging decision was appropriate based on the evidence then available, further information has now persuaded us that the evidence is not clear enough to warrant a trial.

This was a highly unusual case involving an apparently blind complaining witness, a service dog, and conflicts among neighbors and family members.

The original incident dates to May 2013. The complainant reported that two men had broken into her home in the middle of the night, that she recognized one of them by his voice as her next-door neighbor, and that her dog scared off the intruders and fetched her phone to call 911. Police responding to the scene found that the basement door had been forced open and that gas burners on the stove had been turned on.

In July 2013 an article in the Daily News raised questions about the victim’s account, quoting neighbors on the block and estranged relatives of the victim. The following week the judge reduced bail, but allowed the case to proceed.

In September 2013, the defendant made bail and was released from custody. Trial was accordingly scheduled for the fall of 2014. A request for a voice identification lineup was withdrawn by the defense in October of 2013.

New counsel entered an appearance for the defendant in December 2013, and provided us with a packet of information in May 2014. We followed up on that information, and eventually developed additional evidence raising substantial concerns about the victim’s prior history and visual acuity. A new voice lineup was held this month, resulting in a misidentification.

As a result, I have concluded that this case cannot proceed. As always in such circumstances, we must be fair both to the complainant and the defendant. Sometimes that takes time; the overburdened criminal justice system seldom moves as fast as it should. The last several years have seen major reforms that have significantly augmented and expedited the charging and investigative process for most cases. But there is always more to do, and we must and will do our part to seek justice in every case. I am thankful for all who helped to achieve this just result; my staff, defense counsel, the media, and all concerned members of the community who shared information with us.”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.