Reporting Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Following a trial and mixed verdict in April, former Philadelphia police inspector Daniel Castro pleaded guilty Thursday morning to an additional single count of conspiracy to commit extortion.
Back in April, Castro was convicted of one count of lying to the FBI (see previous story). The jury was hung on eight other counts including lying and bribery, but seven of those additional charges were dismissed as part of this plea deal.
He will be sentenced on both guilty counts in September. Castro’s attorney says he expects a guideline sentence of two to three years. The maximum penalty is 25 years.
After the trial, jurors said they had been leaning toward acquittal after a tearful Castro testified he was entrapped and manipulated by the government’s star witness. Castro was also defiant in the face of prosecution questioning.
“Don’t you dare call me a criminal prior to that. I am sorry. It was stupid. I should have thought better. I trusted this guy. He was my friend. I should have known better. I was raised better. You look at my mother, you tell her I was a criminal from day one. You look at her and tell her that. How dare you,” Castro testified during the trial.
But now, without making the excuse of entrapment, Castro, 47, was admitting to the conspiracy count — that he conspired with friends to help a friend collect a debt. But he struggled with the admissions and the guilty plea, at one point during the court proceeding asking about his rights if he changed his mind.
And Castro said afterward that prosecutors were trying to imply that his crimes involved his job when they didn’t.
“This was never a case, Tony, never a case of police corruption — absolutely nothing as was painted initially. It was important to me to prove my office was never for sale,” he told KYW’s Tony Hanson later in the day.
“The collector he hired was somebody who of course was an undercover agent, but who he believed was going to use violence and threats of violence to collect this debt,” federal prosecutor Louis Lappen (right) told reporters afterward.
In exchange for the guilty plea, the government has dismissed seven other open counts, including an honest services fraud count, and defense attorney Brian McMonagle says this will permit Castro to keep his considerable police pension.
Castro is free on bail pending sentencing.
Reported by Tony Hanson, KYW Newsradio 1060