DAVID GAMBACORTA Daily News Staff Writer [email protected], 215-854-5994
IN AN unsurprising turn of events, federal prosecutors are moving to appeal a federal magistrate’s decision to release four indicted Philly cops on bail.
All told, six longtime narcotics officers – Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Linwood Norman, Perry Betts, Michael Spicer and John Speiser – were hauled off to jail last Wednesday on a 26-count indictment that accused the group of a variety of offenses, including conspiracy and robbery.
On Monday, U.S. Magistrate Timothy Rice ruled that Norman, Betts and Reynolds could be released on bail and placed on electronically monitored house arrest.
Rice ordered the same bail terms yesterday for Speiser.
Liciardello and Spicer, meanwhile, have not been granted bail, and will remain in federal custody until their case goes to trial.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek filed motions yesterday afternoon to appeal the judge’s decision to release four of the ex-officers, all of whom have been suspended by Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. (The four are still behind bars.)
Wzorek argued that the indicted men could try to intimidate some of the people who told a federal grand jury that they were assaulted and robbed by the former cops during an alleged reign of thuggery that stretched from 2006 to 2012.
Authorities have said the officers stole $500,000 in cash, drugs and belongings from suspected drug dealers during that time, and resorted to kidnapping and dangling suspects from balconies in some instances when their search for goods didn’t yield results.
Attorney Michael Diamondstein, who represents Speiser, said in court yesterday that Speiser wasn’t accused of personally committing any acts of violence in the 42-page indictment that dropped last week.
Diamondstein said Speiser owned a property that was in foreclosure, and had fallen behind on Catholic-school tuition payments for his children.
The attorney asked Rice to allow Speiser to work a part-time job at the Northeast Philadelphia headquarters of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5.
FOP president John McNesby told the Daily News that Speiser and Spicer both worked in the union’s catering hall in the union headquarters.
Rice declined Diamondstein’s request.
– Staff writer Julie Shaw