An arraignment for a Philadelphia police detective charged with warning a drug kingpin that he was about to be arrested was postponed this afternoon for 24 hours so a federal prosecutor could prepare a motion seeking to have the detective held without bail pending trial.
But in a somewhat ironic twist, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bresnick, during a brief hearing in federal court, did not ask for the temporary detention of Det. Rickie Durham.
Instead, Durham, who turned himself in to the FBI this morning, was allowed to leave the federal courthouse with his attorney.
He is due back in court tomorrow afternoon for a formal arraignment and for what is expected to be a contested bail hearing before U.S. District Court Judge David R. Strawbridge.
Durhman's lawyer, Fortunato Perri Jr., said his client looks forward to challenging the charges detailed in a six-count indictment unsealed this morning.
Perri said Durhan was a "dedicated member of law enforcement" who will "welcome the opportunity to defend himself."
Perri also said he would oppose any attempt to deny Durham bail, pointing out that his client has been aware of the ongoing investigation for more than a year and that he has "fully cooperated" with authorities.
Bresnick declined to comment on what issues he would raise at the bail hearing. A risk of flight and a danger to the community are the two primary issues cited when a defendant is denied bail.
Durham, 43, a 12-year veteran of the police department, has been charged with obstruction of justice, giving advanced notice of a search and making false statements to federal law enforcement officers.
He declined to comment as he left the federal courthouse, but in a telephone interview with The Inquirer last month, he said he may have inadvertently warned cocaine kingpin Alton "Ace Capone" Coles on the morning Coles was to be arrested in August 2005.
The indictment alleges that Durham deliberately set out to tip off Capone by calling Jerome "Pooh" Richardson about 3 a.m. Aug. 10, 2005, just hours before more than 200 law enforcement agents were to launch a series of raids aimed at Coles' drug network.
Durham was a boyhood friend of Richardson, a one-time Philadelphia high school basketball standout who went on to star at UCLA and was a first-round NBA draft pick.
In the interview, Durham said he knew Richardson's half-sister, Asya, was living with Coles. The detective, who was assigned to an FBI task force at the time, said he was trying to gather information.
But the indictment alleges that Durham, using a cell phone provided by the FBI, called Richardson knowing that he would warn Coles.
The indictment alleges that Durham told Richardson that his sister would also be charged.
"We're going to take her down too," the indictment quotes Durham telling Richardson.
Richardson called his sister a few minutes later and spoke to both her and Coles, authorities allege, warning them that the feds were coming.
Coles then tried to warn other associates, authorities charge.
Richardson is identified in the indictment as "J.R. Jr., the half-brother of Aysa Richardson" and as someone who "had become wealthy and had attained a level of celebrity through a career as a professional athlete."
Durham has frankly acknowledged that he called Pooh Richardson that night, and law enforcement sources have confirmed that Pooh Richardson is cooperating with authorities.
Bresnick declined to comment when asked about that cooperation. Nor would he offer an explanation for why Richardson was not fully identified in the 15-page indictment.