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Feds will retry former Philly Sheriff John Green

Former Sheriff John Green, Philadelphia's longest-serving sheriff, is to stand trial again on charges of conspiracy and honest-services fraud in connection with a $250,000 no-interest loan. A jury deadlocked on those charges several weeks ago, while acquitting him on others.

Former Philadelphia Sheriff John Green leaves federal court on April 3, the day a jury cleared him of some charges and deadlocked on others. He now faces a retrial.
Former Philadelphia Sheriff John Green leaves federal court on April 3, the day a jury cleared him of some charges and deadlocked on others. He now faces a retrial.Read moreDAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer

Federal prosecutors will retry former Philadelphia Sheriff John Green on corruption charges,  following a jury's decision this month to acquit him on three charges but deadlock on two others.

Green must again defend himself  on charges that he defrauded taxpayers of honest services and engaged in a criminal conspiracy by accepting a $258,000, no-interest loan in 2010 from a businessman whom prosecutors said he had showered with millions of dollars in government contracts.

The lender, James Davis, was in the dock with Green, a Democrat, at the earlier trial. The jury convicted the businessman of conspiracy, with a role in filing a false Green campaign-finance report, and five tax offenses.

Peter Scuderi, Green's lawyer, strongly disagreed with the U.S. Attorney's Office's decision.

"I am extremely disappointed," he said Thursday. "I think it's just vindictive."

Pointing to the deadlock and the three not-guilty votes, Scuderi said prosecutors should not have pursued the matter further.

Scuderi said prosecutors may have been encouraged to refile after conversations with jurors. He said federal prosecutors, citing such conversations, told him after the first trial that the jury would have convicted Green on the deadlocked counts except for one holdout on the 12-member panel.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Diviny, who brought the case with prosecutors Sarah Grieb and Jennifer Clarke, declined to comment on their decision, which was made public in a filing last week.

Green, 70, a former Philadelphia police officer who campaigned for office as a reformer, served as sheriff from 1988 until 2010, the longest tenure of any sheriff in city history.  The sheriff's job is one of five citywide elected positions, along with the register of wills, city controller, district attorney, and mayor. The office's 400 employees escort prisoners to court and oversee sales for foreclosures or back taxes.

Prosecutors and the defense agreed during the trial that Green essentially turned over its non-law-enforcement  functions to Davis, who earned much of his income via a 15 percent commission from the office's heavy spending to advertise sheriff's sales.

Defense lawyers said Green and Davis became close friends as they worked to reform a moribund agency.  Prosecutors said Davis, 67, plied the sheriff with kickbacks, bribes and illegal campaign contributions to keep the money flowing.

Among other allegations, the government said that Davis pumped more than $200,000 into Green's campaigns, even though city law barred donations greater than a few thousand dollars.  Most of the spending was never in Green's campaign-finance reports.

The prosecutors also noted that Davis hired Green's wife, Michelle, and renovated a home for him.  They said his financial generosity included giving Green $86,000 in "loans" in 2008, 2010, and 2011 that were not repaid.

In addition, prosecutors said, the businessman lent Green the $258,000 in 2010 to buy a house near Orlando days before Green quit office late in the year.  Green paid him back three months later after he received a $386,000 payment from the city's DROP retirement program.