|The photo police sent out to social media, as Meek Mill was detained for 10 hours, without being charged with a crime.|
Rapper Meek Mill was on his way to a show on Halloween in 2012, when his paths crossed with a crooked Philadelphia cop.
Things soon went left, when the police claimed they could smell the scent of marijuana emanating from Meek’s vehicle and claimed the tint on his Range Rover was too dark.
Although Officer Michael Vargas and Officer Andre Boyer found nothing on the rapper or his entourage, Meek was confined for over 10 hours. As a result, Meek missed a private flight that cost $22,000, and more importantly, the release party in Atlanta, for his debut album Dreams & Nightmares.
To top it all off, other ballsy cops took videos and images of the rapper being arrested, which quickly went viral, causing further humiliation to the rising rap star.
For decades, suspects have grumbled about these types of experiences with policemen from the Philadelphia Police Department. Meek, who was born and raised in North Philadelphia, knows the stifling environment firsthand.
“See, this is what I don’t understand. If you come from nothing, and you make some money, which you have a 90% chance of not doing, if one person makes it to that, how the fuck the cops in the neighborhood going to try to bring that down,” said rapper Meek Mill. “Picture me selling a drug man. I bust power moves. We make million dollar moves. I pay taxes. I donate. I have a son, and he doesn’t want to see me in jail.”
Philadelphia has a serious problem with the police. In 2015, The Department of Justice released the “Collaborative Reform Initiative—An Assessment of Deadly Force in the Philadelphia Police Department,” a report that slammed the city’s police force.
The report was initially commissioned by Police Chief Charles Ramsey, in response to a rise in fatal police shootings. In fact, the officers in Philadelphia have killed over 400 people in the past seven years.
Shockingly, 59 of those were unarmed and over 80% of the victims are African-American.
The conclusions seem to reinforce Meek Mill’s claims of injustice surrounding his detainment in October of 2012.
The “Collaborative Reform Initiative” report found that internal investigations commonly lacked consistency and that the Philadelphia Police Department often floundered when it came to investigating officers for violent crimes and shootings.
|Getting dangled over a 19th story balcony is probably better than the fate of the 59 unarmed people the Philadelphia Police Department has killed since 2007. The Justice Department just released a report on the PPD, just as some corrupt cops are on trial.|
However, just as the report found, the internal inquiry into Meek’s accusations vindicated both officers of any wrongdoing.
According to the “Collaborative Reform Initiative” report, this type of decision was common, not just for Meek, but for the others who had similar experiences with the department’s officers.
According to reports, 14 complaints had been examined and dismissed against two of the seven rogue officers indicted for terrorizing the streets of Philadelphia.
Although Officer Boyer’s name does not appear on the 42-page indictment against the seven officers, he was still a part of the same cesspool of filth floating around the Philadelphia Police Department.
The charges against the officers indicted for robbery, extortion, kidnapping and drug dealing seems like it could be the work of a Hollywood crime thriller, but these cops were the real deal.
Now some of these charges against these officers might make you laugh at points, but it is important to recognize that these are events that happened to real people.
Unfortunately, on the streets, these cops were the judge, the jury and in some situations, almost the executioners.
Each one of the officers were members of the Narcotics Field Unit South (NFU-South). The unit was a subsidiary of the Narcotics Bureau of the Philadelphia Police Department.
The mission of NFU-South was to investigate illegal narcotics sales that took place inside of residences and buildings throughout the city of Philadelphia, a sprawling metropolis with over 1.5 million residents.
This was the backdrop for seven cops, who would make Denzel Washington’s character “Alonzo Harris” in the movie “Training Day” look like a straight-up punk.
In fact, one of the men indicted, Officer Thomas Liciardello, mentioned the movie as officers hung a man over the balcony of his 19th story penthouse apartment.
“This is ‘Training Day’ for real,” Officer Thomas Liciardello purportedly told a drug dealer in a terrifying incident during a raid.
Thomas Liacardello is no outsider to the Philly Hip-Hop scene either.
Liacardello was the police officer whose informants helped lead to the setup and arrest of Ace Capone, the former head of Take Down Records. Ace Capone was convicted of using Take Down as a front for a $25 million drug operation.
Each one of the officers are accused of being involved in a ring that used kidnapping, extortion, and robbery to achieve one goal: cash.
When hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and goods were not enough, these officers had no problem dealing kilos of cocaine back to the city they were supposed to protect and serve. The officers used their powers as drug investigators to stop vehicles and raid residences that had money and narcotics.
They would routinely lie on investigative paperwork called “75-49” forms about the amount of drugs or cash that they had confiscated during a raid. The officers would then split the difference for themselves, or sell the drugs back to the streets, for quick profits.
The officers also played a game, in which co-conspirators would get “points” for the type of injuries they inflicted upon their victims. In one instance, a subject was on his knees with his hands on top of his head, when Liacardello struck the man with the butt of his gun.
A number of incidents involving these officers were similar to the encounter that rapper Meek Mill had with the cops during his arrest and detainment.
The men were accused of employing the same tactics, by locking up several of their victims for extended periods of time, with no charges ever filed.
For instance, in February of 2006, Officer Jeffrey Walker, who is cooperating with the government (more indictments are expected), and Officer Liciardello decided to rob a drug dealer at gunpoint.
They relieved the man of his drugs, as well as $12,000 in cash, which the dealer had acquired through the sale of a conversion van.
To make matters worse, they threw the suspected drug dealer in jail for several days while threatening the man and his family if he did not cooperate with authorities. The officers finally released the victim, but never relinquished his $12,000.
A few months later, in October, Officer Walker, and Officer Liciardello decided to enter another house at gunpoint. This time, they stole $38,000 that was stored in a basement dryer and divided it amongst themselves.
The next year, in October of 2007, it seems the wicked officers brought in Officer Brian Reynolds into the scheme. The trio of dirty cops pulled over a suspected drug dealer on Ridge Avenue and stole $30,000 from him. Like the earlier victim, this drug dealer was held in a cell.
Incredibly, during his illegal arrest, the three officers went to his apartment and took another $80,000 from a safe. When Officer Liciardello filled out the 75-49 report, he grossly under-reported the cash, listing $13,000 as the amount taken.
In November of 2007, the dishonest officers’ enterprise expanded.
They brought in Michael Spicer, Linwood Norman, and Officer Perry Betts. Together, the five officers beat a suspect, in his apartment.
While they were trying to extort information from Michael Cascioli, they dangled him over the 19th floor balcony of his penthouse. All of this was done in an effort to get the man’s password for his PalmPilot.
To add insult to injury, the officers ordered a pizza, and then stole items assessed at more than $8,000 from Cascioli, who is one of Philadelphia’s biggest marijuana wholesalers.
As was their pattern, the officers filled out false reports, which failed to report any items confiscated, nor did it mention a physical confrontation with Cascioli.
All throughout 2008, the group of thieves continued to prey upon drug dealers, by raiding their homes, stealing their cash and jewelry.
Like the Cascioli case, in several situations, the cops ordered food and ate while robbing their suspects.
In 2009, the cops chose to start selling drugs they seized from houses and vehicles.
In September of 2009, Officers Norman and Walker robbed an Upper Darby drug trafficker of four kilograms of cocaine. The two men then split the $17,000 they collected from the sale of the cocaine. Later that year, they robbed another marijuana dealer of over $120,000 cash.
In 2010, the cops stormed the apartment of one local dealer. Once inside, they punched him in the mouth, suspended him from a balcony and removed $210,000 in cash. The thievery continued throughout the year.
In 2011, their violence intensified when they beat up the owner of a shop on Sedgwick Street. Liacardello hit the owner in the face and knocked out his teeth. Other officers stood by, and somebody even beat the man in the back of the head with a steel bar.
Then, the cops stole over $41,000 in cash but only listed a little over $6,650, stealing the difference.
Altogether, prosecutors maintain these seven officers took over $500,000 from drug dealers and other criminals, on the streets of Philadelphia. Defense attorneys have rejected the allegations against the officers.
The defense has blasted the credibility of prosecutors’ witnesses, many of whom are former drug dealers with criminal records. However, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Edward Hanko disagreed with the notion that the witnesses did not have rights, just because of their criminal past.
“The crimes alleged here are indefensible,” said Edward Hanko. “That many of the victims were drug dealers, not Boy Scouts, is irrelevant. Police officers are sworn to uphold the law – and to do it ‘by the book.’ This corrupt group chose to make their own rules. Now they will have to answer for it.”
Each officer faced a minimum of seven years and all the way up to life in prison for their offenses, but they were eventually acquitted of all charges.
In July of 2015, the officers were reinstated via arbitration and got their badges back, which is no surprise and in line with the Collaborative Reform Initiative” report’s finding’s about the department’s inability to self-police itself.