Jimmy Binns hasn't given up on trying to be Santa Claus these days to every police officer in the region, although he is usually on the other side of the bar when it comes to trying criminals. He makes his living as a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia.
Long before this holiday season, he was already in the giving spirit. In Philadelphia, he began a program five years ago to place plaques at sites where city police officers have fallen in the line of duty.
On the day of the fatal shooting of Officer Chuck Cassidy, there was a ceremony scheduled to lay a plaque for two police officers who were fatally shot in the 1970s in the same West Oak Lane neighborhood.
This month, Binns is climbing down the chimney of Winslow Township, with the help of local baker Nino Del Buono, who donated $16,000.
The money will buy a new Harley-Davidson Road King motorcycle, the first of six that Binns plans to donate to the Winslow department in the next few years.
"We've been blessed," Del Buono said, "and my dear friend Jimmy Binns said he needed help to benefit police."
Binns said he still must find the money to purchase the other five motorcycles.
Binns - who said he would take a bullet any day for police but not for one of his clients - already has given 25 new Harley-Davidson Road Kings to Philadelphia police. He said he intended to donate 37 more bikes to Philadelphia.
Last week, he said he raised $50,000 more for the Philadelphia effort with the aid of such big helpers as lawyer Bernard M. Gross.
"We have to get to $800,000," Binns said.
Binns plans to replace Philadelphia's entire fleet of 62 motorcycles, some of which date to 1987.
He said he also planned to raise money for bikes for Camden, Atlantic City and other South Jersey communities.
At the same time he is playing Santa to Winslow, Binns is acting as St. Nick for Margate, which is getting the first of four new motorcycles. Binns said he had been helped with the funding by Shore developer Joseph Wolfson.
As a defense lawyer, Binns, 68, has been involved in high-profile trials and has traded legal blows with police and prosecutors. He defended Shamsud-din Ali, the so-called Teflon imam, charged in connection with a federal probe into corruption at Philadelphia City Hall.
Ali was convicted and began serving an 87-month prison term Aug. 13. In the early 1980s, Binns defended U.S. Rep. Raymond F. Lederer for his role in the Abscam scandal. Lederer was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison.
Binns said he was spurred to help police in 2001 when he opened the Globar restaurant at 13th and Locust Streets and learned that Officer Daniel Faulkner had been slain at that spot years earlier.
Binns called that day his "Road to Damascus."