Philadelphia Narcotics Officers, Acquitted of Racketeering, Go After Top City Officials

By Sameer Rao Jul 29, 2015

Five Philadelphia narcotics officers, the defendants in a high-profile federal corruption trial which ended in their acquittal, are now suing top city officials for defamation.

Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, and John Speiser filed a defamation complaint in federal court on July 24 that names District Attorney Seth Williams, Commissioner of Police Charles Ramsey, and Mayor Michael Nutter. The five officers, part of an elite narcotics squad in the Philadelphia Police Department, were at the center of a federal corruption trial that concluded in May with their acquittal and the reinstatement of their jobs. During the trial, government witnesses described beatings, being dangled over balconies, threats of property seizure, and unlawful detention in hotel rooms among other accusations. One of the squad’s own members, Jeffrey Walker, plead guilty in an unrelated corruption case and told jurors in the case against the squad that he and his colleagues committed dozens of crimes in the line of duty; he is scheduled to be sentenced today. 

During the course of the trial, Commissioner Ramsey (a member of President Obama’s policing taskforce) described the case as "one of the worst cases of corruption I have ever heard." The officers filing the suit (who are also joined by their former supervisor, Lt. Robert Otto) are seeking unspecified monetary compensation and a hearing to clear their names. 

(H/t Philadelphia Inquirer