Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Got a couple of desperate Republican political defendants over a barrel? Would you maybe try to use your leverage as a prosecutor to ferret out further corruption in the General Assembly? Or would you instead take another pathetic shot at unmasking your anonymous online critics?

As a matter of policy, Team CasablancaPa will not disclose the names of anyone who offers to share information with us.

Not even if that offer is part of a ploy to gain favorable consideration from a prosecutor as part of a plea bargain or sentencing negotiation in the "Computergate" case.

Sadly, both Republican defendants who tried to gain information as to the identity and whereabouts of Team CasablancaPa failed. But we give you an "A" for effort. Did the Office of Attorney General do the same?

We were puzzled, but not overly suspicious, when the first Republican defendant contacted us about a year ago. Neither a plea bargain nor a sentencing hearing appeared to be on the horizon at the time. But as our extensive viewership of television crime dramas has taught us, plea bargains often are kept a secret so defendants can retain the trust of co-conspirators and gather incriminating information on prosecutors' behalf.

As far as we can glean from the media coverage, this tactic was employed to no avail in the Mike Veon case. And we may never know all the factors that led to John Perzel's guilty plea.

In February of 2011, we received the following email:
Sent: February 7, 2011, 12:54 p.m.
From: [Defendant #1]
To: Signor Ferrari
Subject: No Subject

From time to time, I may have some information to add to the discussion, can you give me an address to which to send?
It was not signed, "Hugs and kisses, Defendant #1," but we were touched nonetheless. Alas, our hopes for a beautiful friendship were dashed when Defendant #1 failed to respond to our suggestion that information could be scanned and emailed. We never heard from Defendant #1 again.

When the second defendant contacted us, we knew the second defendant was probably involved in discussions with the OAG at the time. And, just like the first defendant, the second defendant quickly ceased communication with us when it became clear that we would preserve our anonymity.

Our correspondence with Defendant #2 was a bit more extensive. In January of this year, we received this email.
Sent: January 26, 2012, 8:02
From: [Defendant #2]
To: Signor Ferrari
Subject: How can I send documents and information to you regarding Corbett and company?
Yes, all that was in the subject line. Defendant #2 is maybe not so skilled at using email. We made the same suggestion that we had made to Defendant #1: that documents be scanned and emailed. Defendant #2 claimed an inability to scan (not surprising, given Defendant #2's struggle with email!) After agreeing to send the information through a third party, Defendant #2 also abandoned us.

Corbett's minions have a history of abusing the power of the OAG in an effort to expose anonymous online critics. Their ill-fated and highly improper effort to subpoena Twitter for information about our account made national headlines in 2010.

What concerns us more than protecting our own identity is the idea that prosecutors could offer consideration in criminal matters in exchange for information irrelevant to any criminal investigation (yes, it's still legal to criticize a public official anonymously). If a prosecutor can make a deal for information about our identity, can he offer consideration in exchange for, say, a hand-drawn coupon for one free hug?

Friday, March 16, 2012


One state senator is on trial on accusations of illegal campaign work. Another is about to plead guilty to charges of illegal campaign work. Yet not a single pundit, politician, watchdog or journalist finds it worth mention that the Governor of our fair Commonwealth, while Attorney General, claimed to have investigated the Senate for illegal campaign work and came up with zilch.

Nearly two years ago, when the Allegheny County District Attorney arrested then-Senate GOP Whip Jane Orie, a few Capitol-watchers briefly lifted their heads from their desks. Laura Vecsey of the Patriot-News sniffled:

If the Bonusgate probe did what the Attorney General’s office said—that is, probed all four caucuses of the state legislature—how come Senate Republican computers were allegedly still storing campaign files?

And the Philadelphia Daily News' John Baer mused:

I ask, since Corbett spent years investigating (he says) all four caucuses, why a fellow-Republican senator in leadership never shows up on his radar.

Why, indeed?

We don't yet know - and may never know - what documents or testimony led federal prosecutors to accuse former Senate Democratic Leader Bob Mellow of illegal campaign work. But we do know that one of two scenarios transpired:

1) Tom Corbett examined the same documents and testimony and chose, for unexplained reasons, not to indict anyone connected with the Senate.

2) Tom Corbett never examined any documents or testimony related to either Senate caucus.

Once again we return to the age-old question: is Tom Corbett corrupt, or simply the worst prosecutor in the history of jurisprudence?

We know that an intern actually called Corbett's office to report illegal campaign work going on in the Senate, but Corbett's office blew her off.

At that point, Corbett's alleged investigation of all four caucuses had been going on for more than two years.

Though the Senate GOP claimed to have turned over "tens of thousands" of documents" to Corbett's office, not a single Senator or staffer was subpoenaed.

Yet, when county and federal prosecutors subpoenaed staffers in both caucuses, they apparently had plenty to say.

Even the most slavering Corbett sycophant now realizes that Corbett was lying when he claimed to have investigated the Senate, even as he squandered taxpayer resources going through the motions for sake of appearances.

From a practical standpoint, who can blame him for ignoring the Senate? He thought he had a nice, tidy campaign issue wrapped up with a bow when he indicted the long-deposed former Democratic House Whip and a handful of Democratic staff in 2008. But headache after headache followed when leaks revealed the holes in Corbett's case, and it turned out the voters expected at least a token show of nonpartisanship.

Corbett never had any intention of ferreting out corruption in the legislature. Remember, it was a disgruntled employee who first shed light on bonus payments, and activists and editorial writers who pushed Corbett to investigate. Corbett, whose most likely opponent for the Republican gubernatorial nomination was in the thick of a high-profile political corruption case, saw the opportunity for political gain, and nothing more.

The question is now whether the snowball he started rolling will roll right over him.