Five former members of an elite Philadelphia narcotics squad — acquitted earlier this year on federal corruption charges – are now fighting to clear their names.
A defamation complaint was filed Friday in federal court against the district attorney, the mayor, and the city’s police commissioner, according to philly.com.
In a high-profile racketeering conspiracy trial that ended in May, the city officials alleged that Officer Thomas Liciardello and his squad mates routinely “beat drug suspects, pocketed money, and fabricated police reports to cover up their crimes.”
One of the squad’s own members told jurors that he and his colleagues committed dozens of crimes in the course of their duties. That testimony, however, was not convincing. Ultimately, a jury acquitted Liciardello and his squad mates.
In 2012, District Attorney Seth Williams decided that his office would no longer accept any cases stemming from their squad’s investigations. An attorney for the officers said that decision by the DA started a “gigantic, destructive avalanche of severe and permanent wrongs, damages and injustices” that continues to affect the officers today.
After the officers’ arrests in 2014, the public comments made by the mayor and police commissioner were not justified, said the officers’ lawyer.
Police Commissioner Ramsey at the time described the allegations as “one of the worst cases of corruption I have ever heard” and said he would have the officers’ badges destroyed.
The lawsuit also claims that Mayor Nutter publicly referred to Liciardello and his squad mates as “sick scumbags.”
The officers’ lawyer says in the filing that the conflict boiled down to a “turf war between the Police Department and the district attorney over which office would receive the larger share of forfeited drug money.”
The five officers are now seeking unspecified monetary damages, as well as a hearing to clear their names. They won back their jobs earlier this month and have all been reassigned to positions outside of narcotics.