Former Philadelphia police officer Malik Snell, accused of using his badge to rip off drug dealers, will be back in court this morning as federal prosecutors try for a third time to convict the suspected rogue cop.
Two earlier trials ended with hung juries.
Snell, 36, is once again expected to testify in his own defense, denying allegations contained in a federal indictment first returned in 2008 and expanded this year to include additional charges.
During his last trial, which ended in April, Snell was found not guilty of a weapons offense and a witness retaliation charge, two of six counts he faced. He will be retried on the remaining four.
Jury selection is scheduled for this morning before U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick. Opening statements are likely this afternoon.
A 12-year police veteran assigned to the 18th District in West Philadelphia, Snell was suspended and then fired after his arrest in December 2007 for his alleged role in a botched home invasion in Pottstown.
Two codefendants, including his brother-in-law, pleaded guilty in that case, admitting they forced their way into an apartment that they believed was a drug stash house looking for cash and narcotics.
Snell testified that he was unaware a robbery was planned when he drove the two men from Philadelphia to Pottstown that night and said he "panicked" and tried to flee after he realized what had happened.
He was arrested after a high-speed chase in which the SUV he was driving crashed into another vehicle. He was found by police hiding in the shed behind a nearby home.
Snell was charged with conspiracy, robbery, and a weapons offense in connection with the Pottstown incident. His first trial ended last year with a hung jury.
Federal authorities expanded the charges against him this year after admitted South Philadelphia drug kingpin Ricardo McKendrick Jr. began cooperating with the FBI.
Among other things, McKendrick has alleged that Snell stole $40,000 from him during a bogus police stop at Water and Dickinson Streets in South Philadelphia.
That robbery occurred just days after the Pottstown break-in.
The jury in Snell's last trial found him not guilty of a weapons offense and witness retaliation in connection with the McKendrick robbery.
He is being retried on a robbery charge linked to the McKendrick heist and on conspiracy, robbery, and a weapons offense tied to the Pottstown break-in.
Authorities also allege that Snell took part in the robberies of at least two other drug dealers. While not part of the indictment, they have been presented to the jury through witness testimony to show what authorities allege is a pattern of criminality.
In one incident, they allege, Snell stopped a suspected drug dealer in the 6300 block of Callowhill Street and took 10 pounds of marijuana.
In another, they allege, he and an accomplice set up a drug dealer at a local motel and took $175,000 from him.
Prosecutors have argued repeatedly, and thus far unsuccessfully, that Snell "abused" his public trust by using his badge to rob narcotics traffickers.
His defense attorney, John I. McMahon of Norristown, has countered by accusing prosecutors of building their case around the tainted testimony of drug dealers looking to cooperate in order to get out from under their own criminal problems.