A news conference was held on Wednesday by attorney Lewis Small, who represents high school student and basketball player Darrin Manning, the victim of an alleged violent encounter with Philadelphia police officers in January.
Manning, his mother, Ikea Coney and Science, Civics and Mathematics Charter High School Founder and Principal Veronica Joyner were present at the conference. Small admitted that his client does have a pre-existing medical condition known as varicocele, but stated it doesn’t have anything to do with what he termed as the violent action that necessitated emergency surgery. He also said that statements by Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey do not reflect what is in Manning’s medical records. Copies of the records were given to members of the media.
Small also pointed out that while he is unable to comment on any aspects of the grand jury probe of the Jan. 7 incident, his client is cooperating with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
“Common sense tells you that it would take violent action to cause the trauma that necessitates emergency surgery,” Small said. “To claim that the medical records reflect otherwise is disingenuous. In addition to the physical pain that Darrin endured, the psychological trauma connected with this incident is permanent. What happened to Darrin should not have happened. Darrin should not have been stopped and subjected to such a brutal arrest. When someone grabs your testicles and you have to be operated on, that’s pretty serious.”
According to the MedlinePlus website, a varicocele is an enlargement of the veins within the scrotum. Varicoceles prevent blood from flowing in the testicular veins, causing the blood to back up. It is the same process that causes varicose veins in the legs. They develop slowly and are common in men ages 15 to 25 and are most seen in the left testicle. The medical records given to the press show a statement from Dr. Gregory Tasian, a urologist with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Tasian states that he performed surgery on Manning and determined the testicle was not ruptured as has been claimed in previous reports. Tasian also stated he found a thrombosed appendix epididymis or blood clot and removed it. He concluded by stating he wanted Manning back for evaluation of the scrotal trauma and the known varicocele.
“The facts are consistent with this. He’s [Manning] out there, his testicles are squeezed and he’s operated on the very next day. The pre-existing condition deals with the vein and has nothing to do with this. They’re not connected,” Small said.
On Jan. 7, Manning was on his way to play a basketball game. He and the team traveled to Broad Street and Girard Avenue by the Broad Street Subway. When they got off the train there was some kind of confrontation between Manning and Police Officer Thomas Purcell. What precisely triggered the incident remains an unanswered question, but Manning has been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest and recklessly endangering another person.
“We want the charges against Darrin dropped and we’re asking the district attorney and the police commissioner to do the right thing,” said Veronica Joyner, Founder and Principal of the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School. When asked if adults were traveling with the team, Joyner said there were — but when pressed by reporters for clarification that her students were allowed to travel without adult supervision, Joyner said they were not but that they were traveling in a public thoroughfare, and the issue is they had a right to do so without being inappropriately stopped by police.
“There were adults, but they were traveling with three different groups of children,” Joyner said. “And most of the students travel that route every day. Many of the businesses stated that and there were never any problems and they were traveling during the school hours when children usually travel, so that was not the issue. Children have a right to walk the streets and not be stopped for no reason.”
To date no complaints have been filed with Internal Affairs, the Police Advisory Commission or other agencies by either Small or Manning’s family. No civil suit has been filed so far. When asked about the grand jury probe into the incident, Small said he legally could not comment but that Manning was cooperating with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
“Our first concern is to get rid of this criminal case,” Small said. “I can’t comment about a grand jury, but I can say Darrin Manning is cooperating with the District Attorney’s Office. As for cooperating with Internal Affairs, I don’t think that’s the best way to go. I can tell you that I’ve been told by a very high source that 98 percent of the complaints made in Internal Affairs are dismissed. That’s not the way to go, the way to go is for the federal authorities to investigate this or the district attorney.”
The indictments against Joseph Dougherty and other members of Ironworkers Local 401 reads like a Hollywood gangster film script with its descriptions of goon squads, racketeering, property destruction and threats to further the union’s goals.
Allegedly, the union even had a special goon squad who called themselves The Helpful Union Guys or T.H.U.G.S. The Helpful Union Guys were allegedly known to send the message to contractors that they should hire union members by destroying property, setting fires and issuing threats of physical harm.
On Tuesday, United States Attorney Zane David Memeger announced that Joseph Dougherty, the union’s Financial Secretary and Business Manager had been charged with three counts of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy and arson. He was further charged with two counts of use of a fire to commit a felony and conspiracy to commit arson. Also charged are Local 401 business agents Edward Sweeney, Francis Sean O’Donnell, Christopher Prophet, William O’Donnell and union members James Walsh, William Gillin, Richard Ritchie, Daniel Hennigar and Greg Sullivan. All were charged with RICO conspiracy, violent crime in aid of racketeering, multiple counts of arson and use of a fire to commit a felony and conspiracy to commit arson.
“While unions have the right to legally advocate on behalf of their members, my office will not tolerate the conduct of those who use violence to further union goals,” said Memeger.
Memeger alleged that the defendants damaged numerous construction sites, damaged equipment and even assaulted contractors or their employees. Memeger said it was all part of the union’s effort to force contractors to hire their members — or else.
“Union officials and members who commit arson, destroy property, use threats of physical harm, and engage in other acts of violence to extort victims on behalf of their union need to be criminally prosecuted. Today’s indictment makes that clear,” Memeger said
According to the indictment, the defendants had a network of friends that would allegedly identify local construction projects and job sites where work was suspected of being done without union members. The business agents would step in and allegedly imply or in some case openly threaten violence, destruction of property, or other acts of persuasion unless union members were hired. Federal agents said that the defendants relied on a reputation for violence and sabotage, which had been built up in the community over many years. It is alleged that goon squads of union members and associates committed arsons, assaults and destroyed private property. One such squad referred to itself as the “The Helpful Union Guys” or “T.H.U.G’s.”
FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Edward Hanko said the investigation is far from over.
“The strong-arm tactics we have seen in this case are outrageous and brazen — and an unfortunate blow to the worthy intentions of unionism,” said Hanko. “The fight for workers’ rights may sometimes call for tough tactics, but violence, intimidation, arson, and sabotage are crimes which won’t be tolerated. This investigation has been wide-ranging, but it is far from over. Now that this indictment has been unsealed, we expect to hear from more victims and will aggressively pursue all other leads we receive.”
According to investigators, if a contractor refused to give in to union threats, the members and their associates would employ legal and illegal means to coerce, force the contractors to use union ironworkers. Picket lines would be used in some cases, but in other cases, if that wasn’t enough, the defendants and their associates would allegedly assault employees of nonunion contractors and destroy equipment. The indictment describes cases where assaults were carried out with baseball bats, tires were slashed and vehicles smashed with crowbars, construction materials were stolen and other acts of alleged sabotage were committed.
The goon squads employed counter-surveillance techniques to avoid being detected by law enforcement. And their members understood they would be rewarded by the Local with preferential treatment on job assignments and being appointed to positions of authority within the union.
Investigators said that Dougherty allegedly instructed business agents which construction projects to target and allegedly determined how many union workers were required to be hired to avoid problems from the union. In July 2013 Sweeney and Dougherty allegedly agreed to extort a contractor working a site near 31st and Spring Garden Streets who had refused to hire enough union workers. The contractor proposed hiring one union worker and a second proposal by Sweeney that the contractor hire two were rejected. Dougherty allegedly demanded that the contractor hire all union members for the site and that even one piece of work being done by nonunion workers was one piece too much.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has charged 21-year-old Daron Stinson with aggravated assault, conspiracy, terroristic threats and related offenses for two different assaults with a pellet gun that occurred on Feb. 13.
Investigators said Stinson told them he was playing around when he and a friend allegedly pointed the realistic-looking weapon at a 52-year-old victim and stole a sack of rock salt. The two pulled the same stunt later that same day and allegedly fired the pellet gun in the direction of the second victim. Stinson turned himself in to authorities and he has been arraigned. His bail is $250,000 and his next court date is March 6.
Unrelated murder investigations
Homicide detectives said that two men were shot to death in the Olney section of the city Wednesday night. Investigators said that on Feb. 19, just after 8 p.m., officers from the 35th Police District were called to the 5600 block of Palethorpe Street. When officers arrived they found two men inside a black Mazda and suffering from gunshot wounds.
The first victim has been identified as Stephen Mysyk, 25, from the 5900 block of North Mascher Street. Mysyk had been shot in the head and was pronounced dead on the scene. The second victim, a white male whose name has not yet been released suffered a gunshot wound to the face. He was rushed to Albert Einstein Medical Center in extremely critical condition and was later pronounced dead at 1:08 a.m.
As of Tribune press time there is no motive, no suspects have yet been identified and the investigation continues.
In an unrelated murder investigation, a 15-year-old girl is under arrest and facing murder charges for a deadly stabbing incident that left a 14-year-old boy dead.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office charged Amber Hellesten, 15, with murder, aggravated assault, simple assault and related offenses. Hellensten allegedly stabbed a 14-year-old boy last week in South Philadelphia. The victim later died from those injuries. Hellesten is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 4 at 1801 Vine St.
In another unrelated murder investigation, on Feb. 11 at 3:48 p.m., police responded to a report of a person with a gun on the 3900 block of Poplar Street. When officers arrived at the scene they found a 30-year-old male suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg. The victim was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in stable condition. A second 23-year-old male was suffering from gunshot wounds to his head and arm. The victim, identified as Marquise Williams, from the 1100 block of Sloan Street, was taken to HUP and pronounced dead at 4:31 p.m.
On Feb. 18, Shane Payne, 20, from the 5100 block of Hazel Street was arrested and charged with Williams’ murder.
Conviction in federal fraud case
Matthew McManus, 45, of Glenside, Pennsylvania, was convicted this week for his role in an advance fee fraud scheme that allegedly defrauded hundreds of victims searching for commercial financing. McManus was charged with five other defendants who all pleaded guilty. The scheme allegedly defrauded more than 1,900 victims out of more than $26 million. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 21. McManus faces a potential advisory guideline sentence of 15 years in prison with a statutory maximum possible sentence of 105 years in prison.
Federal prosecutors allege that Andrew Bogdanoff, of Scottsdale, Ariz., was the founder and chairman of Remington Financial Group, later renamed Remington Capital and ran the company with McManus until 2008 in Arizona and Pennsylvania. After McManus left the company in 2008, co-defendant Shayne Fowler, also of Scottsdale, replaced McManus as Bogdanoff’s right-hand man. Co-defendant Joel Nathanson, of San Diego, Calif., was one of Remington’s most proficient employees and allegedly helped Remington defraud numerous victims. Another co-defendant Frank Vogel, of Rochester Hills, Mich., was a Michigan‑based broker who referred numerous victims to Remington in exchange for large kickbacks. Aaron Bogdanoff, also of Scottsdale, was also charged in the conspiracy.
Between 2005 and 2011, the defendants allegedly conned hundreds of people to pay Remington fees in excess of $10,000, based on false representations that Remington had lenders and/or investors ready to provide financing for the victims’ projects.
Tuesday morning the United States Attorney’s Office announced criminal charges had been filed against members of Ironworkers Union Local 401, charges that included assault, arson, extortion and the use of goon squads and strong arm tactics to allegedly further the union’s goals.
U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said that Joseph Dougherty, the Union’s Financial Secretary and Business Manager had been charged with three counts of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy and Arson. He has also been charged with two counts of use of a fire to commit a felony and conspiracy to commit arson. Also named in the indictments are: business agents Edward Sweeney, 55, of Philadelphia; Francis Sean O’Donnell, 43, of Warminster; Christopher Prophet, 43, of Richboro; William O’Donnell, 61, of Cherry Hill, N.J.; union members James Walsh, 49, William Gillin, 42, Richard Ritchie, 44, Daniel Hennigar, 53, and Greg Sullivan, 49, all of Philadelphia. All of the defendants have been charged with RICO conspiracy, violent crime in aid of racketeering, multiple counts of arson and use of a fire to commit a felony and conspiracy to commit arson.
According to federal investigators, the defendants damaged construction sites and equipment, assaulted contractors or their employees. It was all part of a continuing effort to allegedly force contractors to hire workers affiliated with Local 401. At one point in December 2012, a Quaker Meetinghouse that was under construction was set on fire.
“While unions have the right to legally advocate on behalf of their members, my office will not tolerate the conduct of those who use violence to further union goals,” said Memeger. “Union officials and members who commit arson, destroy property, use threats of physical harm, and engage in other acts of violence to extort victims on behalf of their union need to be criminally prosecuted. Today’s indictment makes that clear.”
According to the indictment, the defendants identified construction projects and job sites where work was being performed without using union members. Business agents would approach construction foremen at those work sites and allegedly imply or even explicitly threaten violence, destruction of property, or other criminal acts unless union members were hired. Federal agents said that the defendants relied on a reputation for violence and sabotage, which had been built up in the community over many years. It is alleged that goon squads of union members and associates committed arsons, assaults and destroyed private property. One such squad referred to itself as the “The Helpful Union Guys” or “T.H.U.G’s.”
FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Edward Hanko said the investigation isn’t over.
“The strong-arm tactics we have seen in this case are outrageous and brazen – and an unfortunate blow to the worthy intentions of unionism,” said Hanko. “The fight for workers’ rights may sometimes call for tough tactics, but violence, intimidation, arson, and sabotage are crimes which won’t be tolerated. This investigation has been wide-ranging, but it is far from over. Now that this indictment has been unsealed, we expect to hear from more victims and will aggressively pursue all other leads we receive.”
On Feb. 17 at 12:30 a.m., police officers were assigned to Dwayne Walker, a prisoner who was wounded during a stabbing incident that occurred on Feb. 15 in the 1700 block of West Erie Avenue.
While in the hospital officers removed the handcuffs from Walker in order to have hospital staff conduct tests. That’s when Walker, who has a lengthy record of arrests and incarcerations, stood up and shouted that he wasn’t going back to jail.
Investigators said Walker made numerous verbal threats of harming the officers or being harmed by officers due to his actions. Walker reached for the officer’s gun, but was unable to free it from the holster.
As the struggle continued outside the hospital room, Walker ran down the hallway tearing off his clothing, while officers attempted to gain control him. Additional officers arrived on the scene, and were able to corner Walker who continued to ignore verbal commands. One of the arriving officers deployed his electronic control weapon and knocked him to the floor.
Walker was then placed in custody. Two officers were transported to Temple Hospital and treated for head injuries and then released. Walker, 38, is from the 1700 block of West Erie Avenue and is charged with disarming a law enforcement officer, escape and resisting arrest.
He is also charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats and related offenses in relation to a stabbing incident that happened on Feb. 15 in the 1700 block of West Erie Avenue.
Just after 10 a.m. police officers observed the 15-year-old male victim bleeding from the face. The teen’s family directed the officers to Walker whom they said stabbed the teen in the eye. Officers observed that Walker was bleeding from his right hand and took him to Jefferson Hospital.
Other officers took the teen to Temple University Hospital where he received stitches to his right eye, nose and forehead. The victim also sustained knife wounds in the left shoulder and hand.
Court documents show that Walker has a history of arrests and incarcerations dating back to 1994.