By Tony Hanson and Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The six Philadelphia narcotics officers charged with corruption went before a judge Monday at their bail hearing.
Prosecutors in the case wanted the six defendants held without bail pending trial, but defense attorneys argued that the prosecution’s case is not nearly as strong the government would have people believe, and they should therefore be released until their trial.
There were cheers and sobs as dozens of families members and friends of six indicted Philadelphia narcotics officers crowded into a courtroom at the U.S. Courthouse, hoping the officers would be released on bail to await trial.
Former officers Thomas Liciardello and Michael Spicer will remain in custody, although their attorneys argued they are not a risk of flight or danger to the community. Defense attorney James Binns, who represents Spicer, challenged the credibility of the government’s criminal witnesses and the government’s case, calling it a lot of sizzle, but no steak.
“We vehemently protest our innocence. And we vehemently, and I’ll predict we are going to win. He’s, I’m going to walk him out of this courtroom, whatever courtroom he’s tried in, I am going to walk him out as a not guilty hero police officer because that’s what he is,” Binns said.
Three other officers — Linwood Norman, Perry Betts and Brian Reynolds — were released under “house arrest,” in which they will be electronically monitored.
A detention hearing for a sixth indicted officer, John Speiser, could come as early as tomorrow.
In each case, the prosecutor argued the officers presented a risk to the community if freed on bail, and were a risk of flight because of potentially heavy sentences if convicted.
Defense attorneys argued that the officers had deep community roots and, after being aware of the federal grand jury investigation for two years, there was no evidence they had made any effort to retaliate.
The officers are accused in a federal grand jury racketeering indictment of stealing half a million dollars, robbing, beating and kidnapping suspects including two they allegedly dangled from balconies of high rise buildings in order to get information.
The initial judge in the case recused himself today after defense attorneys objected that the judge had formerly been employed in the US attorney’s office.
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