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If A Candidate Switches Parties, Do DelVal Voters Care?

GOP attorney general candidate Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chester/Delaware) wants primary voters to know he’s a loyal, lifelong Republican.

And based on how often he mentions it in his campaign, he really wants GOP voters to know that his opponent, York County District Attorney Dave Sunday, isn’t.

“I’m a Republican. I have been my whole life,” Williams said last month during a televised debate. “My opponent changed his party when he was 37 years old, and I can say that I have never voted for Obama and Joe Biden.”

And Williams’ campaign manager Mark Campbell told DVJournal that Sunday’s “troubling record on public safety, evidenced by York’s murder rate surpassing Philadelphia’s, casts doubt on the authenticity of his 2013 switch to the Republican Party.”

But Sunday, not Williams, received the endorsement of the Pennsylvania state GOP. And then there’s the bigger question: Do Pennsylvania politicians pay a price for being party switchers?

Craig Snyder should know. He worked for one of the Keystone State’s most high-profile affiliation flippers, the late U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter.

Snyder says Sunday’s switch could be a problem in the primary.

“Given Pennsylvania’s archaic and unfair closed primary system, the vast majority of the small number of voters who participate in primaries are the hyper-partisans in each of our two major parties. Unsurprisingly, those voters are hostile to party switchers. They prize team and ideological loyalty above all else, and that makes accepting even a convert to the cause unappealing.”

Specter abandoned a long career as a Republican and joined the Democratic Party in 2009 after polls showed, as National Review political reporter Jim Geraghty put it at the time, “former Congressman Pat Toomey would beat him like a drum in a GOP primary.”

Instead, Specter used the backing he got from the biggest names in the Pennsylvania Democratic Party to go on and lose the Democratic primary instead.

“Sen. Specter’s experience with party-switching should serve as a flashing red light to others who might consider the same course. He had the assurances of the president, the vice president, the governor of Pennsylvania, and the mayor of Philadelphia—all Democrats—that he would be unchallenged in the Democratic primary. Of course, that’s not what happened, and it ended a long and historic career.”

Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College, agreed with Snyder’s characterization of primary voters.

“Those voters that engage in party primaries are often the most passionate members of the party, with their party identity often an important aspect of their overall identity,” said Borick. “Thus, a candidate who is a relative newcomer to the party may have a higher bar to get over to win the support of longtime party members.”

“The candidates who do switch parties often have to build a strong case for why they switched parties, especially if it was a relatively recent change, and why they should be trusted. These ‘switchers’ sometimes compensate for their newcomer status by being more intense in their campaign rhetoric to signal their credibility with the primary audience,” Borick added.

Temple University political science Professor Robin Kolodny also mentioned Specter when asked about candidates who change parties.

“The answer is: it depends,” said Kolodny. Who else is running in the primary? What are the dynamics in the region or country about the parties? In Pennsylvania, party switching worked poorly for Sen. Arlen Specter when he switched from Republican to Democrat. In New Jersey, Rep. Jeff Van Drew was just fine when he switched from Democrat to Republican.”

Christopher Nicholas with the Eagle Consulting Group said, “I’d say it depends on their personal story. Both Reagan and Trump changed parties during their careers.”

Sunday told DVJournal he was raised a “blue dog” (AKA “conservative”) Democrat who began to disagree with the Democrats as he worked as a prosecutor.

“When I became a prosecutor—I mean, this was a long time coming for me—I realized that conservative principles were what I believed and would make our community safer and healthier. And just like a lot of people, I evolved in my thinking.”

Quantum Communications CEO Charlie Gerow, a Republican consultant, said switching parties may or may not hurt a candidate.

“It really depends on how long ago they switched parties and what they’ve done since. A very recent switch will hurt a candidate far more than one that happened long ago. More than one switch is a much bigger problem for the switcher,” said Gerow.

But Gerow noted it never hurt Philadelphian Joe Rocks.

Rocks was elected as a Republican to the Pennsylvania House in 1979. He switched parties in 1982 and was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate. He then switched back to Republican and served in the Senate from 1988 to 1990. As a result, he served in all four caucuses in the state legislature.

“Not many can do what Joe Rocks did,” said Gerow.


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Sunday, Williams Face Off in GOP Primary for Attorney General

On April 23, Pennsylvania Republicans — and only registered Republicans — will pick their party’s nominee for attorney general. Two candidates, York County District Attorney Dave Sunday and Delaware Valley state Rep. Craig Williams, hope to get the nod.

The attorney general is arguably the second most powerful state official after the governor. In several recent cases, the Attorney General’s Office became a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion, including for the current governor, Josh Shapiro (D). Former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett also previously served as attorney general.

Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr., a former Montgomery County DA and county commissioner, is a Republican who served as acting attorney general after Democrat Kathleen Kane resigned following a conviction on perjury charges.

“The attorney general election is important mostly because it is a stepping-stone to the nomination for governor,” said Castor. “Most people think the attorney general is primarily a prosecutor. While that is far from the truth, perception is what matters. That is the only state row office which receives broad public attention.”

State Rep. Craig Williams

Sunday and Williams told DVJournal they are focused on the Attorney General’s Office and have no plans to run for governor.

“I think Pennsylvania is at a crossroads,” said Sunday, who has the endorsement of the state GOP. “If we can’t make our communities safer and healthier for our families and children, nothing else matters.”  Sunday is concerned about the world his third-grade son will grow up in.

Williams said, “I am focused on making Pennsylvania a safe place to live, work, and raise a family.”

And Williams said that he can win the general election over whichever Democrat wins the primary.

“I have the most breadth of experience,” said Williams, who represents parts of Chester and Delaware Counties. “I have run two times in 2020 and 2022 in the state House elections that nobody thought I could win because of the political climate, be it Trump or abortion. I worked my tail off, and I brought a narrative that was winning, which is one of public service, being a community-minded guy, and being a tenacious fighter. And those narratives brought me home to two victories.”

Williams is a former federal prosecutor who served in Colorado and Philadelphia. Williams also served in the Marine Corps for nearly three decades, flew 56 combat missions, was decorated for valor in battle, and retired as a colonel. While in the Marines, he was a prosecutor and worked on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Williams served as deputy legal counsel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war on terror.

Sunday is a Navy veteran who was deployed to the Persian Gulf and put himself through college and law school while working for UPS. He leads a large office that prosecutes about 9,000 cases annually. Sunday was previously chief deputy prosecutor of litigation. Twice elected district attorney, Sunday said his approach to public safety resulted in a 30 percent decrease in crime during his first term and reductions in the prison population by almost 40 percent since its peak, a reduced supervision caseload. He noted a recent study conducted by Indiana University of Pennsylvania shows offenders in York County have the lowest recidivism rate over five years compared to seven other counties.

“My philosophy of criminal justice is accountability and redemption,” Sunday told DVJournal. A lot of crime

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday

comes from drug addiction and mental illness, he said.

He started the York Opioid Collaborative, working with families, the “faith-based community,” and hospitals to “do everything we can to get people into treatment.”

Williams has used his legislative position to attack crime, including passing a law for a special prosecutor for crime on and near SEPTA and a crime and gun task force. He also led the charge to impeach progressive Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, whose bail “reforms” and downgrading of gun charges have been blamed for spiking violent crime in the city that spills over to the suburbs.

At their debate, Sunday said he opposes Krasner’s impeachment and would allow the voters to decide the matter.

Sunday’s call for redemption means “emptying jails” and “fewer prison sentences,” Williams said.

Williams pointed out that Sunday was a Democrat until he was 37 and ran for DA in a conservative county, while Williams is a lifelong Republican.

Sunday’s “troubling record on public safety, evidenced by York’s murder rate surpassing Philadelphia’s, casts doubt on the authenticity of his 2013 switch to the Republican Party,” said Mark Campbell, Williams’ campaign manager.

Sunday said he switched from the “blue dog” Democratic party of his working-class family to Republican when he realized the Democrats were no longer in synch with his values. He said he voted for John McCain in 2008.

Castor said he has concerns about the “flexible” scruples of a candidate who changed parties. But “if the ‘party-flipper’ is the party-endorsed candidate, though, (they) can use that as a counterweight. Under these facts, I suspect party-flipping is not a major issue with the party endorsement providing cover.”

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GOP Attorney General Candidates Spar During Primary Debate

Pennsylvania attorney general candidates York County District Attorney Dave Sunday and state Rep. Craig Williams traded barbs during a televised debate Thursday.

Williams (R-Chester/Delaware) hammered Sunday on various matters, including that he was a Democrat until he changed parties at age 37, while Williams has been a  lifelong Republican. Williams also called him out over his handling of a murder case where a person was wrongly convicted and for the crime rate in York.

As far as the murder case, Sunday told Williams, “Serious lawyers read things called transcripts.” Regarding crime, Sunday said he’d reduced crime. Sunday, who has been the DA for 15 years, was chief deputy prosecutor before being elected. He blamed the city’s proximity to Baltimore for its high crime.

District Attorney Dave Sunday

The state GOP has endorsed Sunday in the race. Asked why Republicans should back him over the party’s pick, Williams replied, “I’m not worried about endorsements because qualifications and winning elections are what matters.”

Williams touted his military experience, both in combat as a JAG officer. He spent 28 years in the Marine Corps, flew 56 combat missions in Desert Storm, and later was deputy legal counsel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the War on Terror.

“I’ve been fighting for my country my whole life,” said Williams. “Fighting for my community my whole life. Fighting for my state my whole life.”

Asked about Williams’ accusation that Sunday runs the district attorney’s office like a progressive Democrat, Sunday said a group effort with the York police reduced gang violence by 80 percent and homicides by 75 percent.

“I’m a twice-elected DA. I’m a longtime prosecutor, a longtime courtroom prosecutor,” said Sunday. “So, this isn’t for me just coming up with numbers. I have stood in courtrooms, and I have looked at juries, and I have repeatedly asked them to return verdicts that put people in prison for the rest of their lives.”

Wiliams noted the crime problem in Sunday’s jurisdiction. “York is leading the state in murders per 100,000 people. More than Philadelphia, more than Pittsburgh, more than New York City, more than Chicago.”

Asked about a gang shootout at a car wash in York in December and FBI crime statistics showing York is one of the most dangerous small cities in the nation, Sunday said, “York is directly north of Baltimore, and as such, we face challenges that other cities don’t face.”

Both Williams and Sunday would appoint a special prosecutor to fight crime around SEPTA under a law that Williams voted for and Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) signed.

However, Sunday does not support impeaching Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and suggested instead working with Philadelphia residents to “elect a real prosecutor into that role.”

Williams was a House impeachment manager and led the charge against Krasner. He said he has no regrets.

“Philadelphia is under siege, and we’ve got a district attorney there who’s not prosecuting crime,” said Williams. “He’s also committed misbehavior in office,” he said, mentioning a case where a police officer was involved in a “lawful shooting,” but Krasner prosecuted the cop in an effort to overturn the law that protects officers for “the lawful use of force.” Krasner appealed his impeachment. The case is pending in the state Supreme Court.

Asked about violent crime in the state, Williams cited the crime and gun task force in Philadelphia formed from his legislation to authorize the police state and federal officials to work together to go after felons with guns. It could be expanded statewide, he said.

“Overwhelmingly, violent crime is committed by a prior felon in possession of a gun,” said Williams.

Sunday said one of the top causes of crime is the lack of prosecution, “That laws that are on the books are currently not being prosecuted.” He said he works with community leaders, the faith-based community, and the police to bring criminals with guns to justice. He has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police in York County.

Sunday has worked on racial disparities in the justice system.

“During the summer of George Floyd, I spent as much time as was humanly possible to talk to people in my community and not just talk to people, but listen,” he said. “But listening is really the key. “And through that listening, I discovered we have a community that they firmly believe there are disparities in the criminal justice system. And the only way to fix that is by working together and showing them the true outcomes and why things are done the way they (are).”

Asked about election integrity and tweets by Shapiro, the attorney general in 2020, Sunday said a large part of society believes the state’s elections aren’t free and fair. “I assigned detectives to investigate every criminal election complaint,” he said.

Williams said he found Shapiro “uniquely unserious” in his tweets, mannerisms, and treatment of half of Pennsylvania’s voters who disagreed with the election outcome.

Both candidates would use the death penalty and promised to protect consumers against fraud.

If elected, Williams would focus on gun violence, addiction, and fraud against seniors. Sunday said he would fight the scourge of fentanyl, gang violence, and the mental health crisis and protect seniors.

Williams would tackle “official oppression” or government officials who deny people’s constitutional or statutory rights. Sunday would work on the mental health crisis because many people charged with crimes need treatment for mental illness.

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Williams Takes Swipe at Rival Copeland in Attorney General Race

State Rep. Craig Williams, a Republican running for attorney general, attacked one of his primary opponents, former Delaware County District Attorney Kat Copeland, on Saturday.

Williams, who represents parts of Delaware and Chester Counties, is a former Marine who served as a federal prosecutor in Denver and Philadelphia. He was also the chief prosecutor for the U. S. Marine Corps, as well as a Joint Terrorism Task Force member and deputy counsel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Copeland, who lost to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer in 2019, was also a federal prosecutor.

Willaims tweeted Saturday morning: “U.S. Attorney @McSwainPA said he had evidence of election fraud that DOJ shut down. AG Bill Barr said that was not true. The President called McSwain a coward. Kat Copeland was Criminal Chief under McSwain and was responsible for prosecuting election fraud. She owes us the truth.”

After losing the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump blamed McSwain for not investigating allegations of election fraud in Pennsylvania. Later, when McSwain campaigned for governor in 2022, Trump told people not to vote for him in the primary.

“One person who I will not be endorsing is Bill McSwain for governor,” Trump said at the time. “He was the U.S. Attorney who did absolutely nothing on the massive election fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the Commonwealth. Do not vote for Bill McSwain, a coward, who let our country down. He knew what was happening and let it go.”

In that primary, Trump endorsed eventual nominee state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), who lost the general election to then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D).

During the 2022 campaign, McSwain wrote a letter to Trump saying then-U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr had told him not to investigate or prosecute claims of election fraud but to turn over any cases to Shapiro.

“As part of my responsibilities as U.S. Attorney, I wanted to be transparent with the public and, of course, investigate fully any allegations,” McSwain wrote to Trump. “Attorney General Barr, however, instructed me not to make any public statements or put out any press releases regarding possible election irregularities. I was also given a directive to pass along serious allegations to the state attorney general (Shapiro) for investigation — the same state attorney general who had already declared that you could not win.”

However, Barr said that was not true. He told The Washington Post: “Any suggestion that McSwain was told to stand down from investigating allegations of election fraud is false. It’s just false.” Barr added that the assertions “appeared to have been made to mollify President Trump to gain his support for McSwain’s planned run for governor.”

Copeland could not immediately be reached for comment.

“For the other two campaigns, this party endorsement process has been about hiding their candidates from public debate and hard questions,” said Williams. “This is but one of the many hard questions Kat Copeland needs to answer. She was at the heart of this controversy, and she should tell us the truth.”

Republicans statewide are holding straw polls this weekend to indicate their pick in the attorney general’s race ahead of the party’s endorsement vote on Monday.

In addition to Williams and Copeland, York County DA David Sunday Jr. is also seeking the nomination. Sunday, who was the first to declare his candidacy last June, is believed to be the frontrunner.

On the Democratic side, candidates include Stollsteimer, state Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia), former auditor general Eugene DePasquale, former Philadelphia Chief Public Defender Keir Bradford-Grey, and former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan. The state Democratic Party did not endorse any attorney general candidates at its December meeting.

The primary is on April 23.

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DelVal Rep. Craig Williams to Jump Into AG Race

State Rep. Craig Williams says Pennsylvania needs a Marine for attorney general. And he isn’t letting other GOP candidates keep him out of the race.

Williams, who has been widely viewed as a potential candidate for months, is expected to formally launch his campaign on Tuesday.

He is entering a crowded race with two Republicans already in the GOP primary — York County District Attorney Dave Sunday and former Delaware County District Attorney Kat Copeland — and at least five Democrats running as well. Sunday entered the race back in July and has been endorsed by the national Republican Attorneys General Association.

Asked why he was running when Sunday appears to have significant GOP establishment backing, Williams said it was because he could win the general election.

“Looking at the field that’s emerging for attorney general, I do not see or hear a narrative that’s going to win,” said Williams, 59. “And I’m absolutely determined to win this attorney general seat.

“I have the most breadth of experience,” said Williams, who represents parts of Chester and Delaware Counties. “I have run two times in 2020 and 2022 in the state House elections that nobody thought I could win because of the political climate, be it Trump or abortion. I worked my tail off, and I brought a narrative that was winning, which is one of public service, being a community-minded guy, and being a tenacious fighter. And those narratives brought me home to two victories.

“And I’m the only one who can win this race,” Williams added.

He is a former federal prosecutor who served in Colorado and Philadelphia. Williams also served in the Marine Corps for nearly three decades, flew 56 combat missions, was decorated for valor in battle, and retired as a colonel.

While in the Marines, he was a prosecutor and also worked on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Williams served as deputy legal counsel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war on terror.

Williams has traveled to 30 Pennsylvania’s 67 counties so far to talk to people in a “soft launch” of his campaign.

“And I will tell you that my narrative of having been a nearly 30-year Marine Corps colonel, a combat veteran of Desert Storm, where I flew in the F-18, a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice in Colorado and Philadelphia, and deputy legal counsel to the Joint Chiefs, there is nobody in this race with the experience and that wide (variety) of matters,” he said. “And when you couple that experience with the fact that we are living in unbelievably violent times, people want a combat Marine. People want somebody who is going to go out there and fight for them. And I’m hearing that in county after county. We need somebody that’s going to fight, and we need somebody that’s going to win.”

“Time and again, what I’m hearing is you’re the guy that can win,” said Williams.

As for Sunday’s early support, Williams said Sunday announced early because he does not have that much experience and needed to line up support to “deaden that blow” and put forth a storyline that “this decision is already made, and everyone else should just go away.”

“These same people that are throwing their support behind Dave Sunday have been losing campaigns for the last several years,” said Williams. “My campaign will be grassroots.

DVJournal asked Williams what he would do about violence since that is usually the purview of district attorneys, not the state attorney general.

“One thing I will do is go to the General Assembly and get authority for concurrent jurisdiction in these large cities where we’re seeing an escalation of gun violence,” said Williams. “I am the architect of the Gun Violence Task Force in Philadelphia, which gave the attorney General concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute gun crime in Philadelphia. (former attorney general, now governor) Josh Shapiro chose not to use it…I will be mobilizing a task force into Philadelphia.”

“Philadelphia needs a combat Marine right now,” Williams added.

Another Delaware Valley candidate for attorney general is Delaware County Democrat District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer. Williams is a strong Stollsteimer critic.

Asked about Stollsteimer touting his reduction of the population in the county prison inmate population by 30 percent and “decriminalizing” small amounts of marijuana, Williams scoffed.

“He cannot ‘decriminalize’ anything,” said Williams. “What he can do is decline to prosecute just like (Philadelphia DA) Larry Krasner. The contrast between me and Jack Stollsteimer could not be any bigger. Jack Stollsteimer is about emptying out the prisons and putting criminals back on the street. I’m making sure we take the fight to violent criminals by way of my prosecution background and my combat experience. And Jack Stollsteimer is going to selectively choose which crimes he does and doesn’t prosecute. That’s a nullification of our legal process in exactly the same way that Larry Krasner has done to Philadelphia. And it’s no way to run the Attorney General’s Office.”

Williams was the manager in Krasner’s House impeachment. That case is now pending before the sate Supreme Court, which is set to hear arguments Nov. 28.

“I come to this fight with the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions in one arm and my Marine Corps sword in the other,” said Williams. “And I’m going to fight to keep people safe.”

In addition to Stollsteimer, the list of Democratic c candidates includes Kier Bradford-Grey, a former public defender; former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale; former Bucks County solicitor Joe Khan; and state Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia).

Williams and his wife, lawyer Jennifer Arbittier Williams, have four children and live in the Garnet Valley School District.

Chester County Dems Slammed Over Lax Prison Security That Led to Escapes

Having overseen the Chester County Prison, where two prisoners –including convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante — have escaped since May, Democrats shouldn’t escape their responsibility for this security failure.

That was the message from Republicans holding a press conference Wednesday calling out Democratic county officials, such as the sheriff, district attorney, and the majority commissioners, for their failed oversight of the county prison in the wake of Cavalcante’s escape.

“The residents of Chester County deserve better,” said Eric Roe, the former state representative and a Republican running for county commissioner. “Let me be clear: I am not criticizing the brave men and women of law enforcement who are out there in the heat working tirelessly to find this dangerous and evil man. My frustration is with the people at the highest levels of county government tasked with preventing these escapes, acting quickly in the event of an escape, and keeping our residents properly informed. Several Chester County Prison Board members are on your ballot this November. If you are not happy with the status quo, then I urge you to vote accordingly.”

Cavalcante escaped from the Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 and has not been apprehended as of this writing. There have been multiple sightings, including on trail cameras in Longwood Gardens. A jury convicted Cavalcante of murder for brutally stabbing his girlfriend in front of her children, and a judge sentenced him to life in prison. Cavalcante is also wanted for a 2017 murder in his native Brazil, officials said.

The primary role for any government is the safety and wellbeing of its residents,” said David Sommers, a Republican candidate for county commission. “Chester County Commissioners must keep our communities safe. The escape of an ‘extremely dangerous’ inmate from the Chester County Prison is of great concern. It is the duty and responsibility of the entire Chester County Prison Board, of which the three commissioners are members, to run and maintain the correctional facility. Many questions remain unanswered to date. Residents deserve a full explanation of the events surrounding the escape, response time, and subsequent notification to the public.”

The commissioners “must thoroughly search for a new, qualified, vetted, permanent Chester County Prison warden,” Sommers added.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Cavalcante was still on the run, apparently having burglarized a home or homes to take food and items he needed to survive. Cameras showed him in Pocopson Township and areas near Longwood Gardens. Then Longwood Gardens officials saw Cavalcante walking on their trails.

“On the morning of September 5, 2023, security at Longwood Gardens notified law enforcement that they had received trail camera footage that was taken on their property, which showed an individual appearing to be Cavalcante,” a press release stated. “This area was just south of the original perimeter. Investigators confirmed it was Danelo Cavalcante, and he had a backpack, a duffle sling pack, and a hooded sweatshirt.

“Cavalcante was seen in the trail camera footage walking north at 8:21 p.m. and back south through the same location at 9:33 p.m. Based on that information, the manhunt has shifted from the original parameter to contain him, moving towards the southern end of the established perimeter,” the statement said.

Longwood Gardens closed. Area school superintendents were notified, leading to the closures of schools in Unionville Chadds-Ford and Kennett Area Consolidated school districts. Residents were notified by reverse 911.

Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford), whose district includes the affected area, told DVJournal, “I am in touch with both the State Police and the Governor’s Office of Legislative Affairs. My first priority is the safety of my community by capturing an escaped felon. I am told the FBI, U.S. Marshals, Pennsylvania State Police, the state police of Maryland and Delaware, as well as aviation and canine assets from those agencies, are now added to the hunt. That should bring some comfort to my worried district.”

“When this convict is recaptured, then we will have a conversation about the security of the Pocopson facility,” added Williams, a former U.S. Assistant Attorney General and Marine JAG officer.

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Guy Ciarrocchi, who served as a state deputy attorney general, is livid about the incompetence of county officials.

“We now have the worst of our fears: An escaped convicted murderer is out and running around southern Chester County,” said Ciarrocchi.

Asked why county officials did not fix problems at the prison after a different inmate escaped in May, Ciarrocchi said, “You’re asking one of those commonsense questions that goes above and beyond law enforcement and politics. It’s a commonsense question. If it happened once, why wasn’t it fixed? And that’s a question somebody better answer. And our sheriff ought to answer that. Our commissioners ought to answer it. Our district attorney ought to answer it. But our sheriff and our district attorney are busy running for county judge, hoping people will vote for them because of their party label.”

A county spokeswoman said the matter is under investigation.

Ciarrocchi said the county prison should not house such dangerous prisoners. It is where inmates are “typically car thieves, con artists, welfare fraud, not, not usually physically harmful, violent, violent people go there as a holding cell until they’re being sent to a more secure prison.”

Longwood Gardens cameras caught the fugitive on a trail.

Cavalcante should not have been there, but since he was, prison authorities should have taken more precautions with him.

“We have one job. Hold this man until he’s put into a maximum security prison. And they failed in that basic duty. This is, this is a horrific failure of leadership. And then it was compounded by not really getting the public engaged so that we could be vigilant to help capture him and protect loved ones in our businesses,” said Ciarrocchi.

Ciarrocchi said, “This was a convicted murderer who is also standing on murder charges in Brazil. He should be the one person that everybody is paying attention to, and he is the one that they should have been building security around…To let him go, uh, is a gross failure in duty. And to let him go this many days and not engage the public is far worse. So that’s what appears to have happened.”

The district attorney’s office said hundreds of law enforcement officers are working around the clock to find Cavalcante. Helicopters, drones, and K-9 units are aiding the search.

Residents should keep their doors and windows locked and be aware of their surroundings.

Anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Danelo Cavalcante is asked to call 9-1-1 immediately. Officials said there is a $10,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to his capture.

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PA House Appeals Krasner Impeachment to State Supreme Court

The state legislature may yet rid Philadelphia of progressive DA Larry Krasner.

The House impeachment managers filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court asking it to overturn a Commonwealth Court decision to stop the impeachment. The House voted to impeach Krasner in November 2022.

Under Krasner’s watch, murders and carjackings have skyrocketed in the City of Brotherly Love. Retail theft has jumped due to a non-prosecution policy that has businesses abandoning the city after seeing their bottom lines plummet.

But policy questions are not what is alleged by the impeachment managers. Rather, they allege actual criminal conduct.

Former federal prosecutor and Marine JAG state Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford), the lead impeachment manager, talked to the DVJournal Wednesday about the charges against Krasner.

The seven articles of impeachment ranged from lying to a grand jury, lying to the state Supreme Court, failing to inform crime victims, and lying to a federal court.

“We’ve been saying from the beginning that this conduct is unlawful,” said Williams. “Not just that we think that Larry Krasner has not done a fine job as the district attorney, but he has conducted himself in unlawful ways.”

One case that the House managers document in the impeachment appeal is about a Philadelphia police officer, Ryan Pownall, that raised concerns about “prosecutorial misconduct,” including hiding information from a grand jury and a trial judge.

Justice Kevin Dougherty, who recused himself from the appeal, wrote that in the Pownall case, prosecutors had engaged in conduct “worrisome coming from any litigant” but “even more concerning” coming from a prosecutor. There was an “intentional, deliberate choice not to inform the grand jurors about the justification defense” available to Officer Pownall. Further, the prosecution appeared to be “driven by a win-at-all-cost office culture” that treats police officers differently from other defendants.

“It is a crime in the state of Pennsylvania to use your official office to suppress or oppress someone’s legal rights,” said Williams. “It’s called official oppression under Title 18, or conspiracy to do that, or solicitation to do that. In other words, telling one of your subordinates to go do certain things.”

Another case the impeachment managers cite is a federal death penalty case where the prosecutors withheld information from the judge and the victim’s family, said Williams.

“Using your official office to oppress someone else’s legal rights in Pennsylvania constitutes a crime under Title 18, and that’s what I intend to prove,” said Williams.

If the Supreme Court rules in their favor, the next step is to have a trial before the state Senate. And if two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict Krasner, he would be removed from office.

The DVJournal asked Williams what would happen if Krasner refused to leave office. Williams said they would file for a writ with the court to make him go.

“That would be the ultimate act of civil disobedience.”

Many people note Krasner was twice elected to office and question whether the legislature should be getting involved.

“So is that to suggest that once somebody’s elected to office, they can’t commit a crime or they can’t misbehave while in office?” asked Williams. “I think the answer to that’s clearly no. I mean, we, we’ve tried plenty of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia officials for their illegal activity. So being elected to office is not some sort of cloak of immunity.”

Krasner has yet to respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

But lawyers for Krasner had previously filed documents contending the impeachment was unconstitutional and denying any charges the House brought against him.

Krasner is a former defense lawyer whose progressive policies align with a group of other district attorneys whose campaigns were also funded by money from Democratic mega-donor George Soros. When the impeachment articles were introduced by state Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), Krasner claimed the action was “devastating to democracy, and it shows how far toward fascism the Republican Party is creeping.”

White justified impeachment by saying at that time, “The information contained in the most recent preliminary report was so egregious to me I felt compelled to drop these articles of impeachment,” referencing an interim report that outlined findings but did not include a recommendation of impeachment. “Mr. Krasner has proven himself derelict in his duties as the Philadelphia district attorney by inappropriately using prosecutorial discretion to act against the public’s interest.”


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Former Prosecutors Weigh-In on Mass Shooting in Philly

The 4th of July is a celebration of our country’s founding, a joyous summer holiday. Yet in Philadelphia, it was marred by a gunman who killed five people and wounded others– including two children– the evening before the holiday.

Days later, DelVal residents are still reeling from the senseless act of violence, although there is some comfort that a suspect, Kimbrady Carriker, 40, was arrested and is being held without bail.

At a press conference Wednesday, progressive Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner blamed the state’s gun laws for the carnage.

“Finally, I just want to say this: it is disgusting, the lack of proper gun legislation that we have in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Krasner said. “It is disgusting that you can go to New Jersey and find a whole list of reasonable gun regulation that we don’t have, that you can go to Delaware, and there’s almost as long a list of reasonable gun legislation that we don’t have,”

The DVJournal asked some former prosecutors for their thoughts.

Former U.S. Attorney William McSwain said, “The appalling violence that we’ve seen in Philadelphia – including the mass shooting this past Monday – will stop only once our city leaders, especially the DA and the mayor, stop pretending that anybody other than the criminal is responsible for a heinous criminal act. It is not the fault of the state legislature for not enacting the DA’s and the Mayor’s preferred progressive policies.

“It is not the fault of society. There is never, ever any justification for walking up to somebody and shooting them in the head. What we need in Philadelphia is deterrence and serious punishment for crime. Crime will be deterred only when there are serious consequences for it. By consistently making excuses for criminals, our city leaders have led us down a destructive path. This is rooted in fantasy. Our city deserves better,” McSwain said.

Bruce L. Castor Jr., former Montgomery County DA, now a plaintiff’s attorney, said, “I represent the 13-year-old boy shot in the lower legs (allegedly by Carriker).  From a civil perspective, we are evaluating the conflicting statements concerning whether the killer was a transsexual.  I am interested to know if this is a person transitioning, whether he was properly evaluated for mental health side-effects to the procedure, and correctly counseled concerning the effects transition therapy might affect him and his thinking.”

“From a criminal perspective, it appears the police and DA have charged him such that the death penalty ought to apply–though I am aware that is no longer in vogue since the days when I did those cases,” Castor added.

Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat,  has stated that he will not sign warrants to enforce the death penalty.

Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford) called the shooting “an absolute tragedy.”

“The answer of the district attorney, along with the mayor, was to go to the camera and blame Harrisburg for not having passed enough gun reforms. In answer to that the Democrats this week ran a bill that would have taxed every single purchase of a firearm and taxed every single application for a concealed carry permit to pay for street lighting in Philadelphia…Their answer to people being murdered in Philadelphia with firearms is to tax law abiding citizens who are doing nothing wrong, not even living in Philadelphia, to pay for more street lights in Philadelphia.”

Williams offered and amendment to that bill to fund a gun violence tax force with the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute gun crimes and the U.S. Attorney’s office to the DA’s office “and actually go after criminals.”

“If you want to fight back you’re going to have to carry the fight to the streets by way of prosecution,” said Williams.  Williams served as chief prosecutor for the largest base in the Marine Corps. He also served as deputy legal counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He later served as a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice and was also a prosecutor for the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Joe McGettigan,  who has served as first assistant DA for Delaware County and Philadelphia, as well as chief deputy in the Attorney General’s Office, also pointed to a too-liberal justice system.

“Of course, this tragic event,  committed by an obvious lunatic, will bring a hue and cry from the usual political actors. They will denounce ‘mass shootings’ and ‘gun violence’ and call for more ‘common sense’ gun laws, etc., apparently blithely unaware that most laws, common sense or otherwise, are not a great impediment to the lunatic fringe or those who profit from commerce with them,” said McGettigan.

He added, “And mass shootings make up a fraction of deaths by shooting. Now some serious incarceration for those who illegally traffic in guns or who use them, even juveniles, well, that might help. But fear of being accused of calling for mass incarceration, or worse, prevents those sorts of commonsense measures from being implemented.

“Perhaps the lengthy separation of the criminally violent from their innocent prey might help the situation, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for the enlightenment of the progressives. Until that unlikely awakening, prepare for more violence, followed by more rhetoric,” he said.

“Good luck, and protect yourself at all times,” McGettigan warned.

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Republican Policy Committee Visits Delco, Discusses Solutions to Youth Crime

How can we keep young people prone to getting into trouble out of jail yet also live in a safe society?

Two experts discussed restorative justice with the Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee Monday at a hearing in the Concord Township Building.

Rep. Craig Willaims (R-Chadds Ford) enlisted panelists Greg Volz and Liam Power to discuss juvenile justice.

Volz, director of Youth Courts and a criminal justice instructor at Harcum College, said the goal is for kids to become good citizens and to shut down the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

He has run Youth Courts in the Chester Upland School District, Norristown Area High School, and many others.

The Youth Courts can keep students from being expelled or suspended and also keep them from entering the criminal justice system. He wants to see more Youth Courts in the justice system and schools.

He said that kids as young as fifth grade can get involved in Youth Courts, where the youngsters decide on their peers’ guilt and punishment. While Volz has set up Youth Courts at many area high schools, younger kids are often ideal candidates for the Youth Courts, he said.

“They’re still optimistic, excited to learn about the law,” he said.

Power currently chairs the Education Task Force for the state Office of Advocacy and Reform and spoke about the trauma-informed Pennsylvania plan.

Power said his task force has been working to prevent the school-to-prison pipeline through restorative practices, thereby preventing young people from getting involved in more serious crimes.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic increased preexisting trends of retirements of educators, mental health experts, counselors, and others, creating an increasing demand for these professions coupled with workforce shortages. He said these factors have made kids more likely to be involved in the juvenile justice system.

“Mental health is directly correlated with criminal justice involvement,” said Power. “With 1 in 4 people with a mental health condition being arrested in their lifetime. And 7 in 10 youth in the juvenile justice system, having a diagnosed mental health condition.”

A multifaceted approach is needed, including restorative practices and trauma-informed practices.

He said that youth courts can create empathy with law enforcement if they are involved.

Restorative practices also improve situations and reduce the criminal justice system’s involvement. A workforce development program can also help and provide people with the skills to earn “family-sustaining wages,” he said.

While Power did not go into detail about restorative justice practices, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, those programs use trained facilitators to bring the “responsible party” and the “harmed party” together with family and community members to “determine the appropriate response” and repair the damage.

“We need to fund off-ramps from the school-to-prison pipeline,” said Power. People are beginning to understand the effect of trauma on children.

Williams said he lost his brother to addiction in 2020. He said he would ask him why he couldn’t stop (using drugs). But that was the wrong question.

Later, he visited the George Hill Correctional Facility. Williams asked inmates going through drug rehab if they remembered the day they began to use. One told him the right question would be if he remembered the day his mother’s boyfriend sexually assaulted him.

“Since then, I’ve thought many times what it was (that) my brother went through,” he said. “I never asked that question, and I wish I had that opportunity back.”

“This idea of trauma-informed care, as I’ve become more and more an advocate for it locally, with our institutions, trying to bring it here,” said Willaims.

“How do we help a young man (because, more often than not, it’s young boys) understand his ‘why’ for his behavior? If we can help him or her get to their ‘why,’ maybe they can cure the behavior.”

“We need to provide off-ramps,” he said. “And I think that’s where we can be as a matter of statewide policy, which is absolutely rigid in our enforcement of the law, cracking down on crime and still providing off-ramps. We can hold those two thoughts simultaneously, protecting our community and helping people reform or restore, helping them understand their why.”

Power said, “Trauma-informed care and accountability do go hand in hand and are mutually inclusive in that respect. We must live in a place with accountability. We must enforce laws. But where trauma or past experiences create roadblocks in the minds of youth, the only way out of that, the only path forward is through building trust.”

He added, “We have to take the time, we have to see, we have to be human, we have to share sometimes of ourselves and be prepared to be vulnerable. When a youth trusts you, they will begin to believe you’re there to help them. And when they finally feel that sense of safety…everything will come through the way it needs to…Trust is the underpinning of this entire process from beginning to end.”


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PA House Impeachment Managers Appeal Court Decision in DA Krasner Case

Impeached Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is not out of the woods yet.

On Thursday impeachment managers state Reps. Craig Williams (R-Delaware/Chester) and Tim Bonner (R-Mercer/Butler) said they are filing an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from the Commonwealth Court’s Dec. 30 decision.

Krasner appealed his impeachment to Commonwealth Court, raising three objections.

The Commonwealth Court rejected two of three objections but upheld a third, finding that the state Senate was not the venue to try Krasner because the allegations did not meet the standard of “misbehavior in office.” But the court did not hear the evidence against Krasner presented during his impeachment.

“The Commonwealth Court never discussed the facts laid out in the articles of impeachment,” said Bonner. Instead, the Commonwealth Court said, any action “must come through the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board, mischaracterizing the true purpose of an impeachment proceeding.”

However,  both the Senate and the Disciplinary Board could take action, he said.

Williams, a former federal and military prosecutor, explained that Krasner’s acts meet the definition of misbehavior in office.

“There was no analysis whatsoever (by the court),” said Williams. He then discussed Krasner’s handling of a 2017 police shooting case, saying it was a prime example of Krasner’s misbehavior in office. In that case, Krasner used a grand jury to bring charges against Officer Ryan Pownall, although an internal investigation found Pownall acted properly to defend his own life and that of others under state law.

Krasner withheld exculpatory evidence during the litigation, Williams said. When the state Supreme Court eventually reviewed the case, Justice Kevin Dougherty writing separately, excoriated the egregious misconduct by Krasner’s unlawful prosecution of Pownall. The trial court later confirmed this misconduct after hearings and a confrontation with the DA’s office. The case was eventually dismissed.

“In all my time as a prosecutor, I have never seen such deplorable conduct by someone charged with representing the safety and interests of the public,” Williams said. “Misleading the grand jury about the law; hiding that fact from the supervising judge; circumventing due process rights to a preliminary hearing to further hide misleading the grand jury; seeking impermissible appeal to the Supreme Court to retroactively make unlawful what was lawful when it was done; and concealing exculpatory evidence.  All of these actions separately constitute misbehavior in office.  Together, they are evidence of improper or corrupt motive in depriving Officer Pownall of his constitutional rights to liberty.”

During the impeachment process, the House heard from many crime victims who complained about their treatment by Krasner’s office. Krasner, a former defense lawyer, was twice elected as a progressive prosecutor, promising to bring social justice principles for defendants.

Krasner did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The Senate had set Jan. 18 as the date for the Krasner impeachment trial. However, faced with the Commonwealth Court ruling it put the trial on hold. Asked if the Senate still plans to try the Krasner impeachment case, a spokeswoman said it has a constitutional duty to do so.

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